‘M*A*S*H’: Alan Alda Rejected Idea He ‘Ran’ the Show, Said it Never Got ‘More Political’

by Chris Haney
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During a public forum talk back in 2007, M*A*S*H star Alan Alda opened up about politics and dispelled any rumors that he “was running” the hit show.

Alda sat down for a lengthy talk at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. In addition, the hosts of the forum opened the floor for questions from the audience.

At one point, someone in attendance asked Alda about his influence over his Hawkeye character and the rest of the show. The famous actor and writer took the opportunity to shut down the “myth” that he took over M*A*S*H.

“You know, there’s a myth on the Internet that I took over the show and was running it or dictating what was happening. In fact, some people say that it became more political when I got powerful and ran the show. I never ran the show. It was always run by the producers. [M*A*S*H] didn’t get more political. It got less political over the years,” Alda explained to the crowd, according to a JFK Library forum transcript.

Additionally, Alda said that M*A*S*H creator Larry Gelbart wrote a lot of political satire during the first four years of the show. After that, he said the episodes became more human and relationship-centered. Therefore he didn’t agree

“And if you look at the shows that my name is on, they’re not political. There’s one that I got the Emmy for writing that touches on feminism. But I hope it’s not propagandistic. I hate propaganda,” Alda continued. “I would never want to write something that tells people how to think or how to vote. Propaganda is the enemy of art. And I’m interested in trying to learn how to be an artist.”

‘M*A*S*H’ Star Alan Alda Shares Why He Never Had a Political Career

During the forum talk in Boston, Alda admitted that he often gets requests for him to share his political thoughts. He says people ask him to reveal his opinions on certain matters and that publications ask him to write blogs about them. However, Hawkeye from M*A*S*H prefers to stick to his chosen profession within the entertainment industry.

“I just don’t want to do it. I have something to offer in my chosen professions. And that’s how I want to do it,” Alda said of his acting and writing career. “I have strong opinions and I talk to my friends and I try to puzzle things out. But I don’t want to be – I was asked actually to run for the Senate.”

As a long-time New Jersey native, Alda said he’d been asked multiple times to run for office in the state. Many wanted Alda to run against longtime Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg. To this day, Lautenberg is still New Jersey’s longest-serving senator with more than 28 years in office. Yet the M*A*S*H actor has never seriously considered a change of career.

“Yeah, Lautenberg. It was the seat that he eventually ran for. And I said to these guys, ‘No, I don’t want to run. I don’t want to be a politician. I don’t want to do it. I’m an actor and a writer. That’s what I want to do. I’d have to stop that to do that.’ I said, ‘I’m not qualified.’ And they said, ‘Yeah, but you could win,'” Alda shared.

The M*A*S*H star then shared an amusing anecdote. Previous to Lautenberg’s death in 2013, the two would share an amusing exchange whenever they ran into each other.

“And now whenever Lautenberg sees me he says, ‘Thanks,'” Alda joked since he never ran against the senator. 

Outsider.com