With his part as Hawkeye Pierce on the hit TV show “MAS*H,” Alan Alda is like a Hollywood treasure. Aside from his acting, he is loved for getting through hard times as a child and becoming famous.
The 86-year-old actor, director, and writer became famous all over the world for his role on the TV show as the smart doctor Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce.
Unfortunately, he now has Parkinson’s disease, which is bad news. He just recently talked about how hard it is to deal with this situation.
The U.S. really loves the TV show “MAS*H,” which ran from 1972 to 1983 and was a mix of military comedy and drama. The end is one of the most watched TV shows ever, and the show itself is thought to be one of the best of all time.
Three times, Alan Alda got the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series. Even though his family worked in show business, he had a hard childhood. Starting when he was very young, it was full of changes, difficulties, and hard things that happened.
Alan was created in the Bronx in 1936. His dad, Robert Alda, was an actor and singer who worked in burlesque shows, so when he was a kid, his family took many trips all over the United States. Joan Browne, his mom, took care of the family and had won beauty pageants in the past.
Alan wrote about his own life in the book “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed — and Other Things I’ve Learned.” He said that his dad worked late a lot of the time and that his mom was having a tough time with how she felt. It was the 1940s and 1950s, and people didn’t usually talk about mental health issues. There were also not many ways to get help at that time. Therefore, groups such as Alan’s had to take care of it by themselves.
When Alan’s mom got sick, he wished they could have dealt with it together as a team. In his 2005 book, he said that instead, each family member had to deal with it on their own behalf.
He thought about a hard time in his life, when he was only six years old. His dad worked late, so he stayed up with his mom. When his dad got home, his mom said he was seeing someone else. When things got really bad, Alan’s mom pulled out a knife and tried to hurt his dad. Alan saved everyone by stepping in, taking the knife, and putting it through the table.
Alan’s folks didn’t believe him when he told them about the knife incident later; his mom even said he had made it up.
Alan was 7 years old when he was told he had Polio the next year. This illness is very bad and can make you very sick and unable to move.
To AARP magazine, he said, “I got it when I was seven.” I had a stuffy nose and honked the whole time at Warner’s. I had trouble breathing. I had to throw up when I got home, and my legs were shaking. After that, my neck hurt the next day. It was too hard for me to sit up in bed.
Alan had to go through hard training for six months after being in the hospital for two weeks. These treatments involved wrapping his arms and legs in hot towels to help the blood flow and fight the muscle weakness caused by Polio.
Alan remembered, “I had really hot blankets around my arms and legs every hour.” “It was trying for me. Even worse for my parents was that they couldn’t pay someone to help, so they had to give the harsh treatment themselves. Spending money on someone to discipline your child is always a better idea.
Alan got better amazingly quickly thanks to the treatment. Despite having had the disease, you couldn’t tell.
Alan’s childhood was different, even though he had to deal with a lot of hard things. He began watching burlesque shows when he was very young, and he performed on stage for the first time as a baby.
Alan wrote in his autobiography that when he was young, he went on many trips with his folks. Alan remembers watching his dad sing with a burlesque group up to five times a day when he was a baby.
When he was only two years old, his dad wanted to get the dancing club some attention. So, Alan was photographed pretending to smoke a pipe in the hopes that the newspaper would run it to get attention. Alan wore a wool coat and held a pipe with tobacco in it. He looked serious.
Alan had a rough childhood and got through a major illness, but he did really well in school. He went to New York City’s Fordham University to study English. When he joined a comedy group, he worked on making people laugh and getting better at performing.
He began his real career in 1959, when he appeared in a show on Broadway called “Only in America.”
After a few years, in 1963, Alan’s first movie role was in “Gone Are the Days.” He also played a part in the play “Purlie Victorious,” which was turned into a movie. Several years before he became popular as Hawkeye Pierce in “MAS*H,” he was in a lot of movies and Broadway shows.
Besides “MAS*H,” he kept working in TV with parts in shows like “The West Wing” and “30 Rock.” He was praised for his roles in movies like “Same Time, Next Year.” His first movie, “The Four Seasons,” was also a success. Alan was up for an Academy Award in 2004 for his great work in “The Aviator.”
He married singer, photographer, and writer Arlene Wiess in 1957, which was also a big deal in his personal life. They’re still happily married after 65 years.
Alan found the woman of his dreams. The star knew right away that she would be the one he would spend the rest of his life with.
The two people saw each other for the first time at a party in Manhattan, a long time before Alan became famous as Hawkeye.
Alan was really impressed by Arelene when she played Mozart on the clarinet at the party. She was a student at Hunter College in New York City.
A few weeks later, they met again when a friend asked them to dinner. Arelene and Alan were having a good time while sitting across from each other. On top of the fridge, there was a rum cake that suddenly fell to the floor. Bang!
The fridge landed in front of Alan and Arelene because it was shaking. The only ones who chose to eat the cake were those who did so on the ground. The drama made them realize that they were a good match.
They laughed at and with each other and at the same jokes.
At the opening of Marriage Story at the New York Film Festival, Alan told Closer Weekly, “My wife says the secret to a long marriage is a short memory.” He also said, “Seems to work!”
Alan said, “We love each other and don’t get too fancy with each other.” Every time I leave for work, she tells me, “You’re going to be great.” Without her, I wouldn’t be able to do much. What I say to her is the same. I’m so proud of her because she’s always busy writing and taking pictures.
Alan’s wife, Arlene, gave up her singing career so that she could spend more time with him. Since Alan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2015, she has been very helpful. She is there for him all the time.
Elizabeth and Beatrice, two of their three daughters, both started out as actresses but have since changed jobs, with Elizabeth becoming a special education teacher and Beatrice becoming a director.
Elizabeth chose that she didn’t really like playing. “She went on to teach the deaf and more generally special education,” Alan told Closer Weekly.
One of Alan’s oldest daughters, Eve, decided to stay out of the spotlight. She lives in Winchester, Massachusetts, and studied psychology at Connecticut College. She went to school at the Simmons School of Social Work in Boston, which is written on her Facebook page.
Alan had a great time making the movie “The Four Season” in 1981. He composed the music, directed it, and even cast two of his children. In addition to making the movie, his wife also took the pictures.
Alan found out in 2015 that he had Parkinson’s disease, a condition that impacts the nervous system. He got the idea when he read a story in The New York Times about Parkinson’s patients who were showing some strange signs. REM sleep behavior disorder is the name for these symptoms, which included playing out dreams while still asleep. Alan was aware of these signs and chose to get a brain scan from a doctor.
“Someone attacked me in my dream, and I threw a bag of potatoes at them.” In fact, I hit my wife with a pillow. He told AARP Magazine in 2020, “So, I thought there was a good chance I had Parkinson’s.”
Doctors weren’t sure if Alan had Parkinson’s when he went to see them. There wasn’t enough proof to say for sure what the signs meant.
The news wasn’t good after looking at them. Calling Alan back, the doctor said, “Boy, you really got it,” proving that Alan did have Parkinson’s.
Alan decided right away that he would not let the sickness run his life, even though it was bad news. Instead of having other people tell a “sad” story about him, he first told them the news himself.
That was a long time ago, but his life has been full since then.
According to him, he had noticed a few twitches since being identified, but he had started boxing to deal with them.
I’m taking three fighting classes a week. I play tennis by myself a few times a week. “I march to music by Sousa because it helps my Parkinson’s,” he said.
The famous and loved actor Alan Alda talked about his thoughts on hope and pessimism in 2020. He stated that it doesn’t help to be either positive or negative about future events.
To AARP, he said, “You’ve just got to surf uncertainty because that’s all we get.”
He later told People, “The good thing is that I keep getting more sure that I can always find a way to get around problems.” “I’m sure life is all about adapting, adjusting, and revising more than ever.”
To keep his Parkinson’s from getting worse, Alan stays busy. His wife and he play chess together, and he has his own show called “Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda.” But the disease does make it hard for him to do normal things.
“Strong fingers can make it hard to tie your shoelaces. He told People, “It’s like playing the violin with mittens on.”
Many people might think that being told they have Parkinson’s is the end, but Alan says that’s not at all the case. It’s not true that Parkinson’s causes death.
“People feel down sometimes, but they don’t have to. It might be hard sometimes, but your life is still going on. “You live with it; you don’t die from it,” he told Wall Street Journal.
Having a job in Hollywood, being a dad, and dealing with a tough illness all at the same time is not easy. This star, though, has dealt with everything.