"Wherever I could get work, I worked…. I thought I would be a stage actor. It never occurred to me that I'd have some big success on television."
About This Interview
Alan Alda describes his M*A*S*H character "Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce," as "… a sharp wit, a little bit of a smart aleck, competitive about his surgery, liked to laugh, could make a little fun of himself, probably liked making fun of other people more, really liked women a lot and had an old fashioned idea about women, hated war and hated people dying if he could do something about it." Alda was the recipient of multiple Emmys during the long run of M*A*S*H , as its star, as well a writer and director. In his nearly three-hour Archive interview, Alda speaks about his early years that included a serious bout with polio as a child. He acknowledges his improvisational performance background with Second City and Compass in Hyannis Port. He describes his early appearances on television, as a regular on the satirical That Was the Week That Was and the syndicated version of the erudite guess-the-occupation quiz show What's My Line? For M*A*S*H, Alda comments on the series' production, including the creative contributions of writer/creator Larry Gelbart and producer Gene Reynolds; gives his impressions of the ensemble; and discusses memorable episodes. He reveals his feelings about filming the show's last scene, which was both emotional and chaotic due to the extensive media presence, recounting "we got the last shot and then people closed in on us…. We were hugging and saying goodbye— and there's all these people: 'What's it feel like? What are you gonna do next?'" Lastly, Alda mentions hosting the series Scientific American Frontiers, as well as guest starring on ER, for which he received his 29th Emmy nomination. Michael Rosen conducted the interview on November 17, 2000 in New York, NY.