A fun old clip shows M*A*S*H star Alan Alda successfully pulling off a cartwheel while accepting an Emmy. In a Television Academy throwback clip, Alda accepts the 1979 Emmy with total glee. The cartwheel he managed on the walk up was seriously impressive.
Many view Alda, who played the iconic Hawkeye on M*A*S*H, as a fantastic actor. Which, that’s true, but Alda was actually accepting this Emmy award for writing. Alda has actually managed to win Emmys for writing, acting, and directing becoming the first person to pull that off.
He wrote some incredibly important episodes of M*A*S*H. In total, the actor tackled 19 episodes, including the record-shattering two hour finale, which still holds the record for the most watched scripted broadcast in American history. The episode got so many viewers tuning in that the New York City plumbing system almost broke down after the episode was over, as many people waited until the show was over to get up.
Alda was crucial to the success of the show, but he wasn’t the only factor. In order to be as successful as it was, the set of M*A*S*H had something special: true friendships.
The ‘M*A*S*H’ Cast Wanted to be Close with Each Other
Behind the scenes of M*A*S*H Alda was heavily involved in the creative process. He was also part of a movement on behalf of the cast to make sure they got to know each other well and be better connected. There’s plenty of actors on set of shows who dislike each other, but Alda and the rest of the M*A*S*H cast worked hard to prevent that energy.
“We figured out how to relay to one another off-camera by sitting in a circle of chairs and just kidding with one another and laughing together,” Alda later explained in a Fox interview.
This wasn’t just for fun. A bitter cast can make a show more difficult. So a cast that actually liked each-other became a key to success. Alda described it as essential to the show.
“It was the essence of the show,” he continued. “Once we began talking to each other, we quickly got past that experience of sitting in chairs and sharing stories.”
This camaraderie behind the scenes of M*A*S*H allowed them to maximize their potential once those cameras were turned on.
“We had this connection when cameras turned on,” Alda continued. “And it turned our performances into something much more alive than it would have been otherwise.”
M*A*S*H premiered in 1972 and lasted until 1983, longer than the war it was based on. Alda starred in every single episode, being the only actor to do so. Amongst his co-stars were Gary Burghoff, Loretta Switt, Jamie Farr, Wayne Rogers, Harry Morgan, and Mike Farrell.