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Actor, writer, science advocate, and director are just a few of Alan Alda’s many job titles. Throughout his 40-year career, he has won seven Emmys, six Golden Globes, and three DGA awards for directing. When not garnering accolades for his roles in front of and behind the camera, Alda spent 11 years hosting Scientific American Frontiers on PBS.
One of TV Guide’s 50 Greatest Television Stars of All Time, Alda is best known for portraying Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H, which earned him five Emmys for acting, writing, and directing, the only actor in history to win in each category for a single series. 125 million people tuned in to say goodbye, making the show’s finale the most watched single TV episode in US history.
He wrote, directed, and starred in several films throughout the 80s and 90s. He was nominated for a British Academy Award for Crimes and Misdemeanors and received an Oscar nomination for his performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. In 2016, he starred alongside Louis C.K. and Steve Buscemi in the series Horace and Pete.
From 1993 to 2005, Alda hosted PBS’s Scientific American Frontiers, putting the actor up close with cutting edge advancements in chemistry, technology, biology, and physics. In 2013, he hosted Brains on Trial, a neurological look at brains in the courtroom. He also wrote Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie, a play about the personal life of the scientist who discovered radium, and presented Dear Albert, a stage-work he wrote based on letters written by Albert Einstein, for the World Science Festival in 2016.
A recipient of the National Science Board’s Public Service Award, Alda is a visiting professor at and founding member of Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, where he helps develop innovative programs on how scientists communicate with the public. He sits on the board of AI research body The Future of Life Institute, alongside Stephen Hawking, Morgan Freeman, and Elon Musk, and is on the Board of Directors of the World Science Festival.
Alda published his New York Times bestselling memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed—And Other Things I've Learned, in 2005. His second bestseller, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, came out in 2007. Alda’s next book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating, is scheduled for release in 2017.
His 33 Emmy nominations include recent performances for NBC’s 30 Rock, The West Wing, and ER.
THINGS I OVERHEARD WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF
The well-known actor and writer takes a humorous look at a serious question: what’s been the meaning of my life? Having survived a near death experience on a mountaintop in Chile and wanting to squeeze the most juice out of his second chance at life, he listens again to advice he’s heard himself giving young people over the years and spins a story that holds on to laughter as it plunges down a few blind alleys – toward a surprising conclusion.
GETTING BEYOND A BLIND DATE WITH SCIENCE
It was in autumn of 2003 that Alan Alda’s life changed forever. While filming for Scientific American Frontier, Alda felt an intense pain in his abdomen. It was his appendix, and it needed to be removed immediately. In a local Chilean ER, a doctor saved his life just in the nick of time.
A lifelong lover of science, Alda would like everyday people and science to shake hands. Just as he knew to get to a doctor, because of what his body was telling him, Alda believes that people should have an easier time understanding and relating to science. So aside from hosting PBS specials for over two decades, Alda has helped found the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, where scientists learn the communicative skills to help the world understand science better without all the jargon.
Whether we like it or not, science affects us all, so allow Alda to help wipe the sweat from your brow, calm your nerves, and get beyond the blind date with science.