Alan Alda, a star of MASH, overcame adversity as a child and now fights an incurable illness.

In addition to his role as Hawkeye Pierce on the legendary TV show “MAS*H,” Alan Alda is admired for his ability to overcome difficulties throughout his life.

The now 86-year-old actor, director, and writer rose to fame because of his portrayal of the witty Dr. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on the enduring TV series.

 

He now has Parkinson’s disease, which is regrettable, and recently spoke up about some of the key challenges it brings.

One of the most watched finales in television history was the final episode of the military comedy and drama MAS*H, which ran from 1972 to 1983.

Alan Alda won six Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Television Series for his part in the popular series.

Despite coming from a well-known family in the entertainment business, the great actor had a challenging and painful upbringing.

Alden Daly

In his early years, Alan, who was born in the Bronx in 1936, traveled with his family while his father pursued a career as a burlesque performer. His father, Robert Alda (born Alfonso Giuseppe Giovanni Roberto D’Abruzzo), was an actor and singer, and his mother, Joan Browne, was a beauty pageant winner and stay-at-home mom.

In his book, “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed — and Other Things I’ve Learned,” Alan wrote that his mother suffered from mental illness and that his father frequently traveled for work.

 

Since mental illness was a taboo subject and there weren’t many supports accessible in the 1940s and 1950s, many families were left to deal with it alone.

How much simpler it would have been if my father and I had dealt with her illness together, comparing notes and strategizing. Instead, each of us was alone ourselves,” he said in his memoir from 2005.

He and his mother would stay up together as his father worked late, and he recalled a horrific incident that occurred when he was six years old.

When Robert came home, his wife was already convinced that he had been having an affair. When Alan’s parents argued, Alan’s mother became enraged and attempted to use a paring knife to stab his father in the back. Before anyone was harmed, Alan seized the knife from his dad and slammed it against the table. This bent the point.

A few weeks later, he brought it up to his parents, who, according to him, had no idea what he was talking about and his mother had informed him he was only dreaming.

The following year, it was determined that Alan had polio, a disabling, and potentially lethal disease.

Him, “I got it when I was 7,” he told AARP magazine. “I honked the entire evening at Warner’s movie theater with a stuffy nose. I was unable to blow my nose. I puked when I arrived home, and my legs felt shaky. I woke up the next day with a stiff neck. I was unable to sit up in bed.

Fantastic comeback

 

Alan underwent excruciating therapy for six months, which included two weeks in the hospital and necessitated wrapping his arms and legs in hot cloths to increase blood flow and prevent any potential muscle wasting brought on by the ailment.

Every hour, Alan recounted, “I had blankets wrapped around my limbs that were almost scalding.” It made me feel bad. Because they couldn’t afford to hire a nurse and had to torture me themselves, I believe it was tougher on my parents. Always prefer to pay someone to hurt your child.

Fortunately, Alan reacted well to treatment, and he has made an incredible recovery, exhibiting absolutely no indications of the disease.

Alan was raised in a highly unconventional way; he witnessed burlesque performances as a young child and had his theatrical debut at the age of just one.

He recounts in his memoirs how his family constantly moved so that his father could perform with a burlesque group and how, as a child, he and his mother would suffer through risqué performances many times a day.

In order to advertise the burlesque club where he worked, Alan confessed in his memoirs that when he was just two years old, his father had him photographed smoking a pipe for a newspaper.

My father thought that if he staged me so that I appeared to be smoking a pipe when a photographer from the Toronto Daily Star arrived backstage, the newspaper would be sure to post the shot and the burlesque group would receive some unexpected attention. They suited me up in my wool suit and had me stand solemnly while holding a pipe filled with tobacco,” he claimed.

 

Despite having a difficult childhood, Alan was able to excel in school, enroll at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York City, and study English before joining an improv comedy troupe where he honed his acting skills and comedic timing.

With the Broadway staging of “Only in America,” he began his professional career in 1959.

A union with Arelene

He made his film debut in 1963’s “Gone Are the Days,” which was a film adaptation of the stage play “Purlie Victorious,” in which he had also acted. He kept appearing on Broadway and in movies up until he was given the role of Hawkeye Pierce in “MAS*H.”

Since then, he has had recurring parts on programs including “The West Wing” and “30 Rock.” Both his directing debut, The Four Seasons, and his performance in Same Time, Next Year received favorable reviews. For his work in The Aviator, Alan was nominated for an Academy Award in 2004 for Best Supporting Actor.

He married the singer, photographer, and writer Arlene Wiess in 1957, and their personal life also prospered. Despite their 65-year marriage, they remain deeply in love with one another.

The instant Alan set eyes on the woman he would spend the rest of his life with, he knew she was the one.

The rum cake mishap

Long before Alan gained notoriety as the fabled Hawkeye, the two first encountered one other at a party in Manhattan.

Arelene, a student at Hunter College in New York City, had a big impact on Alan, especially when she performed some Mozart at a party on the clarinet.

A few weeks later, in a restaurant, a friend of theirs arranged for them to meet up again. Sitting opposite one another, Alan and Arelene appeared to be having a good time. The refrigerator’s lid suddenly collapsed, causing a rum cake that was perched there to fall to the floor. Bang!

 

The contents of the refrigerator spilled out in front of Alan and Arelene as it rattled. They were the only ones to consume any cake, and they did it while seated on the ground. After all that excitement, they came to the conclusion that they were a good match.

They were able to laugh and joke around with one another.

At the Marriage Story opening of the New York Film Festival, Alan remarked to Closer Weekly, “My wife says the secret of a long marriage is a short memory,” adding that it “seems to work!”

“I don’t think we spoil each other, I just think we love each other,” he continued. She always tells me I’m going to be fantastic when I leave the house to work, so without her, I wouldn’t do nearly as much. I also tell her the same thing. She is a very busy writer and photographer, and I am quite proud of her.

But Arlene gave up a potential singing career to spend more time with her husband; ever since Alan was identified as having Parkinson’s illness in 2015, Arlene has been a rock for him.

Alan Alda’s offspring

The couple has three daughters: Elizabeth teaches special education, Beatrice directs, and Elizabeth and Beatrice both previously worked as actors.

Elizabeth made the decision that she didn’t really enjoy performing. In general, she became a special education teacher and a teacher of the deaf, Alan told Closer Weekly.

Eve, Alan’s oldest child, chooses to stay out of the spotlight. Eve attended Connecticut College and, according to her Facebook page, is a psychologist with a current location in Winchester, Massachusetts. According to her profile, she studied at Boston’s Simmons College of Social Work.

Because I created and directed The Four Seasons (1981), two of my daughters starred in it, and my wife took the photos, Alan says he had the greatest joy filming that film.

Parkinson’s condition

In 2015, it was determined that Alan Alda had Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain condition. It all began with a New York Times piece he had read, in which medical professionals addressed some peculiar Parkinson’s symptoms they had observed in their patients.

Doctors noticed that while their patients were still unconscious, they frequently acted out bodily scenarios from their dreams. This issue is also known as REM sleep behavior disorder. After realizing what was going on, Alan decided to schedule a brain scan with a medical professional.

“I had a dream that someone was attacking me, and I threw a sack of potatoes at him in the dream. In actuality, I hit my wife with a pillow. Therefore, he told AARP Magazine in 2020 that he thought there was a strong likelihood he had Parkinson’s disease.

However, the physician wasn’t certain if Alan genuinely had the condition. He wasn’t certain the Oscar-winning actor had Parkinson’s disease after hearing the list of symptoms.

But after a few scans, the dreadful news came.

The actor remembered, “He called me back and said, ‘Boy, you really got it.

Nevertheless, Alan made the decision to take control of his health as soon as he received his diagnosis. At first, he wanted to tell the news in his own words rather than be the subject of a “sad” story.

Since then, I’ve had a full life, he stated.

 

He has experienced some little twitching after being diagnosed, but he has chosen to use boxing as a kind of therapy.

Three times a week, I attend boxing classes. A few times every week, I play singles tennis. Because marching to music is beneficial for Parkinson’s, I do it to Sousa music, he claimed.

In 2020, the well-liked actor asserted that it would be useless to harbor any form of optimism or pessimism about the future.

He told AARP, “You just have to surf uncertainty because that’s all we have.”

He later told People, “The silver lining is that I keep growing more confident that I can always find a workaround.” “I’m more convinced than ever that life is adjusting, adapting, and revising.”

Alan has been doing everything in his power to stop the progression of Parkinson’s ever since he became aware of it. In addition to his own podcast, “Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda,” he stays active by exercising, playing chess with his wife, and walking their dog. However, the illness affects him and makes it challenging for him to lead a normal life.

The greatest difficulty

With stiff fingers, it can be difficult to tie shoelaces. Imagine playing the violin when mittens are on,” he advised People.

Contrary to popular assumption, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is not a death sentence, according to Alda. Rarely do Parkinson’s patients die as a direct result of their condition.

 

“Getting depressed is a typical reaction, but it’s not required. Although things may certainly get worse, your life is not over. You die with it, not from it, he told the Wall Street Journal.

This admirable star has successfully balanced parenting, a severe illness, a lovely marriage, and a lucrative Hollywood career.

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