In an older interview, M*A*S*H star Alan Alda opened up about his crazy commute from his home in New Jersey to California to film the hit comedy-drama.
Famed journalist Barbara Walters interviewed Alda on the set of M*A*S*H in November 1978. The hit show was at the height of its popularity during its 11-season run from 1972 to 1983. The show was nominated for over 100 Emmy Awards while on-air while winning 14. In addition, Alda himself took home numerous individual awards for his role as Hawkeye Pierce.
While speaking about various aspects of his life and career, Walters asked Alda about his strenuous commute to work. Born and raised in New York, Alda’s family lived in New Jersey. Instead of uprooting his family and relocating to Los Angeles for his Hollywood career, he chose to fly back and forth weekly. Walters herself even joked that Alda’s commute was “madness.”
“No, it’s not so bad,” Alda assured Walters. “That’s where my family lives. That’s where our roots are, we’ve been there 15 years. The kids have grown up there.”
As the M*A*S*H actor shared with Walters, he had no idea how popular the show would become. His family didn’t know the show would last seven seasons (to that point, in 1978). Therefore, Alda got used to the jet lag as he humorously explained to the journalist.
“I go into a permanent state of jet lag every September. And I come out of it in January. It’s not so bad, it’s sort of pleasant. You have a little buzz all the time, it’s not bad. You don’t have to get drunk then. I don’t have to drink like other people do to forget their troubles,” Alda hilariously joked of his commute.
Alan Alda Talks About Balancing ‘M*A*S*H’ Career With Family Life
For a Hollywood star like Alan Alda, he may have a busy schedule filming M*A*S*H and appearing in movies. Yet he believes it’s equally important to make time for your family and to raise your children as well.
Walters asked Alda if he has to make adjustments to be with his family. His long commute on a weekly basis highlights how dedicated Alda was to making sure he was part of his family’s life. He agreed with Walters, saying you do have to adjust and that you should.
“Oh, sure, you have to. That’s the way to do it” Alda said. “How do you devote yourself to your work, to your career, to your work outside the home, and at the same time devote yourself to your work inside the home?”
Alda says both men and women struggle with that balance. However, he says that society assumes that it’s not a man’s responsibility to work in the home. Alda fully disagreed with that assumption.
“The way things are presently organized, women have a greater problem because everybody just assumes that it’s not man’s place to work in the home. To really devote himself to the running of the household, and to the rearing of the children. Well, that’s baloney. It is man’s place,” Alda said emphatically. “If raising children is so great, how come men aren’t doing it? It is great, they oughta be doing it. And more and more, they are.”