Alan Alda is an American director, screenwriter and Emmy Award-winning actor. Alda portrays Senator Arnold Vinick on The West Wing. Alda created and hosts the podcast, Clear+Vivid.

About Alan

Alan was born to late veteran Hollywood and stage actor Robert Alda (1914-1986), an actor and the former Joan Brown, a Miss New York winner. At age seven, he contracted polio but completely recovered thanks to a treatment by Sister Elizabeth Kenny.[1] Alan attended Archbishop Stepanic High School in White Plains, New York.[2]

In 1958, he got his bachelor's degree from Fordham College in the Bronx, New York. After this, he traveled to Paris where he studied acting. Post graduation, he joined the United States Army Reserves, serving as a gunnery officer, [3] "often going AWOL with a girl named Arlene Weiss. [4] During this time, he also served a six-month tour of duty in Korea.

A veteran of five decades of acting on stage, screen and film, the six-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner, Alan also received acclaim and another Emmy Award for his recurring role as Senator Arnold Vinnick in hit NBC-TV political drama series The West Wing in its final season in 2006. He is currently a Visiting Professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook School of Journalism and a member of the advisory board of The Center for Communicating Science.[5]


Alda, is well known for portraying Benjamin Franklin"Hawkeye" Pierce on the hit tv series M*A*SH for the whole run of the show from 1972-1983. During the show's run, he would travel home to New Jersey every week to spend time with his family and write most of the scripts for the show as well as directing it. The show went from the lighter side of a war in Korea to the darker side. The show has won many Emmy Awards, including Alda himself for acting, directing and writing. To this day, he is the only actor to ever achieve such an honor.

By the time the M*A*S*H series had ended in 1983 with the 2 1/2 hour TV movie episode "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" in Febuary of that year, Alan, who had already worked on other movies such as "California Suite" (1978), "Four Seasons" (1981), would go on to appear in such films as "Sweet Liberty" (1986), "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989) and "Betsy's Wedding" (1990), the and numberous appearances in movies and television commercial spots. In the later years, he got interested in science which led to his new show "Scientific American Frontiers".

In 2003, Alda was rushed to a hospital in Chile while filming an episode of "Scientific American Frontiers" for emergency surgery on his intestines.

In 1993 he co-starred with Diane Keaton, and Anjelica Huston in the comedy/mystery Manhattan Murder Mystery. The four play a quartet of amateur crime solvers who become entangled in a murder plot possibly perpetrated by Keaton's neighbor. Alda's character is Ted, a playwright secretly in love with Keaton's character Carol, but who eventually falls for Huston's character Marcia.

In 1995, he starred as the President in Michael Moore's political satire/comedy film Canadian Bacon. Around this time, rumors circulated that Alda was considering running for the United States Senate in New Jersey, but he denied this. In 1996, Alda played Henry Ford in Camping With Henry and Tom, based on the book by Mark St. Germain. Beginning in 2004, Alda was a regular cast member on the NBC program The West Wing, portraying Republican U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Arnold Vinick, until the show's conclusion in May 2006. He made his premiere in the sixth season's eighth episode, "In The Room," and was added to the opening credits with the thirteenth episode, "King Corn." In August 2006, Alda won an Emmy for his portrayal of Arnold Vinick in the final season of The West Wing. Alda had been a serious candidate, along with Sidney Poitier for the role of President Josiah Bartlet, before Martin Sheen was ultimately cast in the role.

In 2004, Alda portrayed conservative Maine Senator Owen Brewster in Martin Scorsese's Academy-Award winning film The Aviator, in which he co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Throughout his career, Alda has received 31 Emmy Award nominations and two Tony Award nominations, and has won seven People's Choice Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, and three Directors Guild of America awards. However, it was not until 2005, after a long distinguished acting career, that Alda received his first Academy Award nomination, for his role in The Aviator.

Literary works

Alan has published two books: "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed (And Other Things I've Learned)" and "Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself". Both became New York Times Bestsellers. Both books describe his life before, during and after M*A*S*H as well as his personal life and the many things he had experience being famous.

Today, Alan Alda tours science festivals and continues to make apperances on TV and film, being always remembered as the cocky and loving Hawkeye Pierce.

Private life

Alan and wife Arlene, who married in 1957 have three children: daughters Eve (a musician/artist, born December 18, 1958), actress Elizabeth (August 20, 1960) and actress Beatrice (October 8, 1961). Three of his 7 grandchildren, Jake (Eve's son), Scott (Beatrice's son), and Emi (Eve's daughter), are aspiring actors.


  • In 1996, Alan was ranked #41 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV stars of All-Time. [6]


  • Alan Alda at the Internet Broadway Database (IBDB)
  • Alan Alda at the Internet Off-Broadway Database (
Wikipedia has a more detailed
and comprehensive article on

Notes and references

  1. Berk, Philip (December 11, 1998). "A question of roots". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved December 10, 2007.
  2. ^ Smiley, Tavis (December 2, 2004). "Alan Alda". PBS. Retrieved May 2, 2007.
  3. "Military People : Alan Alda".
  4. Kolbert, Elizabeth (May 18, 1994). "At Lunch With: Alan Alda; Hawkeye Turns Mean, Sensitively". The New York Times. Retrieved November 24, 2007. "Ever since M*A*S*H, Alda has split his time between the East Coast, where he has houses in the Hamptons and Leonia, New Jersey, and the West, where he owns a home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles."
  5. SUNY Stony Brook (NY) School of Jornalism, March 4, 2012.]
  6. TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV stars of All-Time TV Guide, December 14-20, 1996.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.