Alan Alda Biography

Alan Alda photo

Born: January 28, 1936


Date of Birth: January 28, 1936

The son of actor Robert Alda, the 6' 2" actor easily eclipsed his father's fame with his 11 year run as "Hawkeye" Pierce on TV's M*A*S*H.

Trained on the Second City stage, Alan Alda had his first hit on Broadway in The Owl And The Pussycat. In 1964 he was introduced to television audiences in the satirical program That Was The Week that Was.

Real fame came with the TV sitcom based on Robert Altman's film, M*A*S*H. His version of Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce was an inspired combination of Groucho Marx and Marcus Welby, and helped make the show a bona fide TV classic. As the series progressed, Alda took a firmer hand in the creative control of the show, winning Emmys for his acting, writing and directing. The final episode in 1983 was one of the most-watched programs in television history.

"I never wanted to be famous," Alda says. "What I wanted to be was very, very good at what I do. And though I realized that if I was, then I'd be famous, that always seemed a little absurd."

Through the '80's Alda wrote, directed and starred in a series of sophisticated comedies in the Woody Allen mode: The Four Seasons, Sweet Liberty, A New Life and Betsy's Wedding. Rather than becoming the next Woody Allen, Alda settled for working with the original Woody in Crimes and Misdemeanors (He's a hoot as a self-absorbed sitcom producer with the mantra "If it bends, it's funny!"), Manhattan Murder Mystery and Everyone Says I Love You. He's also shown off his intelligence and versatility in a series of character roles, including Ben Stiller's LSD-dealing Dad in David O. Russell's Flirting With Disaster and as National Security Advisor Alvin Jordan inthe political thriller Murder At 1600.

After years of lingering just outside of the spotlight, Alda stepped right back into center stage in 2004 when he accepted a continuing role on the hit series The West Wing as Sen. Arnold Vinick and received an Academy Award nomination for his role in Martin Scorsese's drama, The Aviator.

Alda has three daughters with his wife, Arlene Weiss, to whom he has been married since 1957.

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