Overcoming Obstacles and Fighting Parkinson’s: The Inspiring Journey of Alan Alda
Alan Alda, Star of “M A S*H,” Overcame Obstacles as a Youth and Now Fights Parkinson’s
Alan Alda, the beloved actor known for his role as Hawkeye Pierce in the iconic TV series “M A S*H,” has had a remarkable journey filled with challenges and triumphs. From his early struggles to his current battle with Parkinson’s disease, Alda’s story is one of resilience and determination.
“M A S*H,” a wartime comedy and drama that aired from 1972 to 1983, remains one of the highest-rated programs in American television history. Alda’s portrayal of the witty and compassionate Hawkeye Pierce earned him multiple Golden Globe awards for Best Actor in a Television Series.
Growing up with Adversity
Despite coming from a showbiz family, Alda faced his fair share of obstacles and hardships during his formative years. Born in the Bronx in 1936, he traveled extensively with his parents, as his father worked as a performer in burlesque theaters. His mother, Joan Browne, struggled with mental health issues, and his father, Robert Alda, often spent nights away from home due to his acting commitments.
In his memoir, “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed — and Other Things I’ve Learned,” Alda reflects on the challenges his family faced during an era when mental illness was stigmatized and support was scarce. He emphasizes the need for open dialogue and support systems for families dealing with similar situations.
Alda’s childhood was marred by a traumatic incident when he was only six years old. During an altercation between his parents, his mother attempted to stab his father. Alda intervened, grabbing the knife and preventing any harm. However, when he raised the issue weeks later, his parents denied any recollection of the event, leaving him feeling confused and isolated.
The following year, Alda was diagnosed with polio, a crippling disease that left him with lasting physical challenges. Despite these setbacks, Alda’s indomitable spirit persevered.
Confronting Parkinson’s Disease
In 2015, Alda received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative neurological condition. Curiosity sparked his interest in the disease after reading an article about peculiar symptoms observed in patients. Alda recognized some of these symptoms in himself and decided to consult a doctor.
Though initially uncertain about the diagnosis, further tests confirmed that Alda indeed had Parkinson’s disease. Instead of succumbing to despair, Alda chose to take control of his life and share his story on his own terms. He refused to be defined by his illness and embraced a positive mindset.
Surfing Uncertainty and Embracing Life
When facing uncertainty, Alda believes that neither optimism nor pessimism is helpful. He shares the importance of surfing through life’s unknowns and finding ways to adapt and thrive. Through his podcast, “Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda,” his dedication to physical exercise, and engaging in activities like playing chess, Alda shows his determination to live a fulfilling life despite the challenges.
Alda challenges the misconception that a Parkinson’s diagnosis is a death sentence. While it can be a difficult journey, he emphasizes that life continues, and individuals can find ways to manage and adapt to the disease. Parkinson’s may present obstacles, but it does not define one’s existence.
Alan Alda’s remarkable journey from overcoming adversity as a youth to facing Parkinson’s disease with resilience and optimism inspires us all. Through his example, he reminds us that life is about adaptability, growth, and finding silver linings even in the face of adversity.