‘M*A*S*H’: Alan Alda Revealed Why He Wasn’t Discouraged by Early Failures in Career

by Joe Rutland
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Failure is something actors face in their careers. “M*A*S*H” star Alan Alda is no different, yet he kept pursuing his dreams.

Alda, in a 2017 interview with the Harvard Business Review, says he’s often heard that a person is supposed to have a goal and work toward it in life.

“But if you’re an actor, it’s very hard to do that,” Alda said. “Instead, you take whatever opportunity is in front of you and make the most of it. That’s what I did.”

‘M*A*S*H’ Star Says Love Of Trying To Learn About Acting Guided Him

The “M*A*S*H” star, who acted, wrote, and directed episodes during the CBS sitcom’s 11-season run, had different reasons for doing what he did in his career.

“I was guided not by a goal but by the love of what I was trying to learn how to do,” he said. “And the deep desire to do it as well as I possibly could. And that made a big difference because whichever way it led me, I’d be OK.”

Alda understood that this path might not make him financially successful, even though it did. For him, though, it means that “I would be successful in somehow being able to do this thing I loved.”

“At a very early age, I wanted three things: to work with [the] material I valued and people I respected in front of an audience that got it,” he said. “I could have been in a small regional theater for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed.”

He has worked on stages for TV, theater, and movies in his long career. “M*A*S*H” allowed Alda to incorporate all the things he had learned through the journey to TV stardom. Alda’s father was actor Robert Alda. He originated the role of Skye Masterson in the Broadway production of “Guys and Dolls.” That earned him a Tony Award. So, the younger Alda comes from a show-business background.

Alda Freely Admits Acting, Directing At The Same Time Wasn’t Easy

As mentioned, Alan Alda spent time both in front of and behind the camera while working on “M*A*S*H.” Anyone who thinks he had an easy time balancing both with his schedule should think again.

When asked in the same Harvard Business Review interview how he handled it all, Alda said, “Not easily.”

“One of our daughters, when she was about eight, said, ‘You’re directing yourself? What do you say? You, go there,'” Alda said. “It’s a problem because when you’re directing you need objectivity, and it’s hard to be objective about your own performance.”

He said that he’d shoot more takes when he was in a scene. Alda wanted a choice when he entered the editing room.

“Maybe that came off looking like I was more concerned about my own performance than other people’s,” Alda said. “But that wasn’t why I did it.”

Alan Alda, though, pursued his own dreams and achieved them in the world of acting.

Outsider.com