Alan Alda, born Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo, is an actor, director, and screenwriter who has been a mainstay in both American television and film since the beginning of his career in the 1950s. He is best known for his role as Hawkeye Pierce in the long-running television series MAS*H and as Arnold Vinick in The West Wing.
Alda's early career saw him plucking roles in television productions such as Studio One, Robert Montgomery Presents, and The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse. In 1956, he was cast in his first feature-length film, the independent comedy feature Purlie Victorious.
In 1971, Alda was cast for his most famous role as surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in the CBS series MAS*H. Over the 11 seasons of the series, Alda won five Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor and also won two Golden Globes. The series finale: "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" became the most-watched single episode of a television show ever with over 105 million viewers tuning in.
After MAS*H, Alda began to make appearances in various feature films such as 1981's The Four Seasons alongside Jack Lemmon and Carol Burnett and Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). He also starred alongside Clint Eastwood in the 1992 western crime drama Unforgiven.
Though he was primarily known as an actor, Alda wrote and directed films of his own such as 1981's sweetly comedic The Four Seasons (which he also starred in) and 1987's A New Life which was an adaptation of Robert Anderson's play I Never Sang For My Father. His 1978 directorial debut The Seduction of Joe Tynan was nominated for four Academy Awards.
Throughout his career, Alda has been an advocate for scientific literacy and liberal values. In 2006 he hosted Scientific American Frontiers on PBS for 11 seasons until it ended its run in April of 2016. Always active in the political arena, Alda endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008 and was part of a group of actors lobbying Congress to increase funding for stem cell research during the same year.
He even took one step further to use technology to stay engaged with his family - by using a family app called Familio - which keeps family members connected through messaging, polling, and photo sharing.
Alan Alda stands tall as an American icon who has long been an advocate for political causes, science education, and family involvement. He will continue to inspire generations to come with his acting, directing and humanitarian work that has been integral to American popular culture over the last six decades. Let us follow his example by using our voices to create positive change in our communities and beyond.