Alan Alda was only 47 when M*A*S*H ended its incredible run. He didn’t rest on that career-defining role.
Rather, post-M*A*S*H, Alda said he continued to look for unique roles. He certainly finds them.
Alda talked about how he sifts through projects during a 2019 interview with the Saturday Evening Post.
“Number one, it has to sound like fun,” the M*A*S*H star said. “And it has to seem like it will be a challenge because I don’t want to keep doing what I’ve done before. It’s like walking a high wire between two buildings and seeing if you can keep from falling off.
“It doesn’t always have to be in front of a lot of people,” Alda said. “I’ve gotten as much of a kick out of performing in a small theater before a couple of hundred people as 20 million on TV or in a movie.”
At age 85, he’s still doing his podcast. He calls it Clear + Vivid. He finished up the 12th season, June 15. And the official social media account wished Alda a Happy Father’s Day. Hawkeye from M*A*S*H has three beautiful daughters. He and his wife Arlene were married in 1957.
Alda’s last episode certainly fits his unique criteria. It was a conversation with Neil Shubin. On his personal Twitter account, Alda wrote “No, really. Why WOULD a fish have fingers? Or wrists, or elbows, or lungs? I love this episode. I enjoyed listening to this conversation with Neil Shubin as much as I enjoyed having it in the first place. Don’t miss it.”
In Alda’s Career on M*A*S*H and Other Shows, He’s Also Worked as Director and Writer
Throughout his career, Alda has done more than just act. He’s also written and directed. He’s got six Emmys on the shelf, with five of them coming from his M*A*S*H days. Alda won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor for The West Wing in 2006. He played Arnold Vinick, a senator from California and the Republican nominee for president. In a 2019 interview, Alda said the live debate he had as Vinick was the top single-acting moment in his legendary career.
And since then, Alda was nominated for his work on 30 Rock and The Blacklist. So he can do comedy and drama really well. Between M*A*S*H and The West Wing, he also received Emmy nominations for ER and HBO’s And the Band Played On. He played a doctor in both of those roles.
Alda’s career also hasn’t been exclusively about television. He earned an Oscar nomination for his work in The Aviator. Like The West Wing, he played a U.S. Senator. So Alda does have a type, whether he’s a doctor like on M*A*S*H or a politician.
He’s tried not to slow down in his 80s. But he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He announced his diagnosis in 2015. Alda also addressed his illness in the 2019 interview with the Saturday Evening Post. The disease became a cause.
“When I first knew I had Parkinson’s, I waited a couple of years to reveal it,” the M*A*S*H star said. “I finally went public because I wanted to help remove the stigma. People who don’t want to admit they have it are holding back the progress we can make to cure the disease. If you get Parkinson’s, your life is not over.”