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Alan Alda Reflects on Career, Life and Family

Alan Alda talks about his book, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself. All too often our celebrity obsessed media culture forgets the thoughtful folks who also work hard in American arts and entertainment. About ten minutes in, Alan Alda humorously probes some meanings to life, particularly the medical.

Alan Alda was born in New York City, the son of the distinguished actor, Robert Alda. He began acting in the theater at the age of 16 in summer stock in Barnesville, Pennsylvania. During his junior year at Fordham University, he studied in Europe where he performed on the stage in Rome and on television in Amsterdam with his father. After college, he acted at the Cleveland Playhouse on a Ford Foundation grant. On his return to New York, he was seen on Broadway, off-Broadway and on television. He later acquired improvisational training with “Second City” in New York and “Compass” at Hyannisport. That background in political and social satire led to his work as a regular on television’s “That Was the Week That Was.” For twenty years he was a member of the Board of the Museum of Television & Radio, and for ten years, from 1989 to 1999, he was a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Alan Alda has recently had the distinction of being nominated for an Oscar, a Tony, and an EMMY – as well as publishing a bestselling book – all in the same year.

His memoir, entitled Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, and Other Things I’ve Learned, became a New York Times bestseller. His 2005 EMMY nomination was for his role as Arnold Vinick, Republican candidate for the presidency on “The West Wing” (which brought him two SAG Award nominations in the same year, Best Actor and Best Ensemble in a Drama Series). He also received a Tony nomination for his role in the Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.” On film that year, he appeared in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” for which he received a nomination for an Academy Award and was also nominated for a British Academy Award. 2006 honors include his 32nd Emmy nomination and winning his sixth Emmy for his appearance on “West Wing” (Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series) as well as the National Science Board’s Public Service Award, and his induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has earned international recognition as an actor, writer and director. In addition to “The Aviator,” Films include “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Everyone Says I Love You,” “Flirting With Disaster,” “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” “And The Band Played On,” “Same Time, Next Year” and “California Suite,” as well as “The Seduction of Joe Tynan,” which he wrote, and also “The Four Seasons,” “Sweet Liberty,” “A New Life,” and “Betsy’s Wedding,” all of which he wrote and directed. For his role in Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” he won the D.W. Griffith Award, the NY Film Critics Award, and was nominated for a British Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. On Broadway, he has appeared as the physicist Richard Feynman in the play “QED.” He starred in the first American production of the international hit play “ART.” In addition to his nomination for “Glengarry,” he was also nominated for the Tony Award for his performances in Neil Simon’s “Jake’s Women” and the musical “The Apple Tree.” Other appearances on Broadway include “The Owl and the Pussycat”, “Purlie Victorious” and “Fair Game for Lovers” for which he received a Theatre World Award. On television, he hosted the award winning series “Scientific American Frontiers” on PBS for eleven years, interviewing leading scientists from around the world. He played Hawkeye Pierce on the classic television series “M*A*S*H,” and also wrote and directed many of the episodes. Alda is the only person to be honored by the TV Academy as top performer, writer and director. His 32 Emmy nominations include one in 1999 for his performance on “ER.” In 1994 he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Other Television performances include “Truman Capote’s The Glass House” and “Kill Me If You Can,” for which he received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Caryl Chessman, the inmate who spent 12 years on death row. He has won the Director’s Guild Award three times for his work on television, and has received six Golden Globes from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and seven People’s Choice Awards, and has been nominated for two Writer’s Guild Awards.

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