Alan Alda (Semblanza)

Alan Alda has earned international recognition as an actor, writer and director. In addition to The Aviator, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, Alda’s films include Crimes and MisdemeanorsEveryone Says I Love YouFlirting With DisasterManhattan Murder MysteryAnd The Band Played OnSame Time, Next Year and California Suite, as well as The Seduction of Joe Tynan, which he wrote, and The Four SeasonsSweet LibertyA New Life and Betsy’s Wedding, all of which he wrote and directed. Recently, his film appearances have included Tower HeistWanderlust, and Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies.

In 2016, he appears as Uncle Pete in Louis CK’s groundbreaking web series Horace and Pete.

He has the distinction of being nominated for an Oscar, a Tony, and an EMMY – and publishing a bestselling book – all in the same year (2005). His Emmy nomination was for his role on The West Wing. His Tony nomination that year was for his role in the Broadway revival of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. In addition to receiving an Academy Award nomination for his appearance in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator that year, he was also nominated for a British Academy Award.

In all, he has received 6 EMMYs and has been nominated for an EMMY 34 times.

Alda played Hawkeye Pierce on the classic television series M*A*S*H, and wrote and directed many of the episodes. His EMMY nominations include performances in 2015 for The Blacklist, in 2009 for 30 Rock, in 2006 for West Wing (for which he received an EMMY), and in 1999 for ER.

In 1994 he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

He hosted the award winning series Scientific American Frontiers on PBS for eleven years, interviewing leading scientists from around the world. In January 2010, he hosted the PBS series The Human Spark, in which he interviewed dozens of scientists, searching for answers to the question: What is it that makes us human? In 2013 he hosted the mini series Brains on Trial on PBS, exploring the effect of contemporary brain science on the U.S. justice system. 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, an inmate who spent 12 years on death row.

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.
He has received 3 Tony nominations. In addition to his nomination for Glengarry Glen Ross, 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 PussycatPurlie Victorious and Fair Game for Lovers for which he received a Theatre World Award.

For over 20 years he has worked to help broaden the public’s understanding of science.
He helped found the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University where he is a Visiting Professor, helping to develop innovative programs that enable scientists to communicate more effectively with the public. He originated The Flame Challenge, a yearly international competition for scientists in which they compete to explain complex scientific concepts so that 11-year-olds can understand them. Since 2008, he has worked with physicist Brian Greene in presenting the annual World Science Festival in New York City, attended since its inception by over a million people. He’s the author of a play entitled “Radiance – the Passion of Marie Curie,” which had its world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in November 2011. His play based on the letters between Einstein and his wives, called Dear Albert, has been presented in New York, Moscow and Brisbane.

His awards for communicating science include:
1998 From the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, The Sagan Award, for increasing the public appreciation of science
2006 National Science Board’s Public Service Award
2010 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award for PBS series, The Human Spark
2013 Scientific American Lifetime Achievement Award
2013 American Chemical Society (ACS) Award for Public Service
2014 American Chemical Society (ACS) James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public
2015 Elected a fellow of the American Physical Society.
2016 National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal
2016 Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute’s David Mahoney Prize for increasing public awareness of brain science
2016 National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal

His first memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, and Other Things I’ve Learned became a New York Times bestseller, as did his second: Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.
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.

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.

His wife, Arlene, is the author of nineteen books, including her latest, Just Kids from the Bronx. An award winning professional photographer, her work has appeared in a number of magazines and books. They have three daughters and eight grandchildren.