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Alan Alda

Capt. Benjamin "Hawkeye" Pierce

Born January 28, 1936 in New York City to actor Robert Alda and former "Miss New York" Joan Brown, Alan Alda started his acting career at 15, performing comedy routines with his father at the Hollywood Canteen. He made his theatrical debut two years later, starring in Charley's Aunt in summer stock. A 1956 graduate of Fordham University, Alda traveled to Europe during his junior year and acted with his father on stage in Rome and on Amsterdam television. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve and served a six-month tour of duty as a gunnery officer in Korea following the Korean War. He attended the Cleveland Playhouse and further honed his skills at The Compass and Second City in Chicago. Alda made his New York stage debut in 1956 as an understudy in The Hot Corner and gained attention playing Charlie Cotchipee in Purlie Victorious on Broadway in the early 1960s. He returned to the New York stage in 1964 to play his first lead in The Owl and the Pussycat and was nominated for a Tony for his performance in the 1966 musical The Apple Tree.

Alda made his film debut in 1963’s Gone Are the Days. Roles in Paper Lion (1968), The Mephisto Waltz (1971) and other movies followed. In 1964 he appeared on NBC’s political satire show That Was the Week That Was and gave a memorable performance in the 1972 TV drama The Glass House.

Alda went from actor to icon in 1972, when he landed the role of Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce in the television series M*A*S*H. During the show’s 11-year run, Alda took more creative control of the show, often addressing political and social issues. While his use of the ostensible comedy as a soapbox may have garnered some criticism, Alda received an astounding 25 Emmy nominations for his work on M*A*S*H, winning five times and becoming the only person to win the award for writing, directing, and acting in episodes of the same series.

During and after M*A*S*H, Alda created an impressive body of work in film and TV as an actor, producer and screenwriter. Some of his earlier credits include 6 Rms Riv Vu for CBS in 1974, Kill Me if You Can for NBC in 1977, and Same Time, Next Year in 1978. He made his screenwriting debut with 1979’s The Seduction of Joe Tynan and went on to write, direct and star in The Four Seasons (1981), Sweet Liberty (1986), A New Life (1988) and Betsy's Wedding (1990). He appeared in the Woody Allen films Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) and in the musical comedy Everyone Says I Love You (1997). Alda appeared as the unsympathetic and unrepentant NIH official Dr. Robert Gallo in HBO’s 1993 Emmy-winning expose of the AIDS crisis, And the Band Played On. He earned his 29th Emmy nomination for his work on ER in 2000 and his 30th for his work in Showtime's Club Land in 2001.

Since then, Alda has been nominated for a Tony for Glengarry Glen Ross, an Oscar for his performance as Senator Ralph Owen Brewster in Aviator (2004) and an Emmy for his role as the fictitious Senator Arnold Vinick on The West Wing. In 2005 he released his memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed – and Other Things I’ve Learned. Most recently, he starred as a corrupt billionaire in Tower Heist (2011). Alda has been married to Arlene Weiss since 1957. The couple has three daughters.

Character Bio

For Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, love and war, politics and prose, collide at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. He was named Hawkeye after a character in The Last of the Mohicans.

Hawkeye is originally assigned to work with Captain "Trapper John" McIntyre, the two become fast friends as they figure out a way to mix hi-jinks and humor with the stark reality of war. He forms a bond with seemingly psychic Corporal Walter "Radar" O. Reilly, Corporal Maxwell Klinger, who would do anything to be sent home, including dress in drag, and mild-mannered Father Francis Mulcahy.

After Trapper is discharged, life at camp returns to normal for Hawkeye with the arrival of new best friend, Captain B.J. Hunnicutt. Growing more learned by war, throughout his tour Hawkeye transforms from a wisecracking practical joker to a man of conscience; but perhaps his biggest strength is the ability to find humor, sanity and humanity in time of war.