I know Alan Alda has decades of prestigious acting under his belt, and most people know him primarily as Hawkeye on M.A.SH., but I really only know him for one role: he played Dr. Kerry Weaver’s mentor on ER, and she eventually had to confront him about his Alzheimer’s disease. According to IMDB, that arc was in 1999 — so obviously he made an impression on me with the role. When I saw his biography with it’s rather…eye-catching title, I figured I might find out a bit more about the man.
“My mother didn’t try to stab my father until I was six.”
Well, that will get your attention. Alan Alda was raised in show business, and followed his vaudeville father and beauty queen/schizophrenic mother around the country, watching from the wings of burlesque shows and movie lots. He had a pretty turbulent upbringing — his family refused to acknowledge his mother’s multiple issues, and their vagabond lifestyle led to a lot of new schools and difficulty fitting in. But Alda knew from an early age that he wanted to act as well, and worked his ass off to get there.
I really liked his writing style — it’s very casual without being overly friendly, and some of the bits are pretty funny. He gets serious about his family issues, but it’s inspiring to see how relatively normal he turned out. He seems to have set his mind on having a certain way of life, and has achieved it with a lot of hard work. Definitely a good read for those of y’all who like celebrity memoirs that don’t contain a ton of name-dropping.