Alan Alda and his wife, Arlene, have been married for over six decades and, according to Married Biography, the actor has revealed the secret to a long marriage. Alda joked, “[My wife] says the secret to a long marriage is a short memory.”
So, how did Alda meet his beloved wife in the first place? In a live episode of the Today Show, Alda recalled that at a gathering of some kind, “The hostess of the evening had made a rum cake and she put it on the refrigerator to cool. The refrigerator shook and the cake fell off the refrigerator and hit the floor, Arlene and I were the only two people who went in with spoons and ate it off the floor. That’s how you know. When two people eat a cake off the floor, that’s it for life.”
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Alda’s wife has worked as an author and photographer, with her work appearing in prominent publications like VOGUE. When they met, Alda was a struggling actor, but their love grew and they went on to have three daughters and eight grandchildren. The couple actually raised their family in New Jersey, so Alda commuted back and forth to Los Angeles for all eleven seasons of his hit show M*A*S*H. Alda reportedly now resides in New York.
While Alda was the half of the couple who was in entertainment, Arlene had a past in music. In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Arlene revealed, “When I was a kid, I loved music but hated to practice … When I got older and playing an instrument was my own choice, I loved playing the clarinet and took off with it—and I had some very creative teachers. I drew from all of my past experiences with music to create this book. I want to spread the word that a child will naturally not want to practice, but there are ways of hooking kids on music without making them feel guilty for not practicing. It’s important to tap into the love of music that’s inside kids.”
Several years ago, Alda was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and it was reportedly his wife who started noticing his symptoms. In 2015, Arlene saw a difference in the movement of Alda’s arms when he walked. She also saw him acting out his dreams while sleeping. Alda talked about the diagnosis and changes to People, stating, “My life hasn’t changed much. I just applied my curiosity to it. I’m constantly reading and trying to figure out the best approaches. So far it’s really interesting. I think it’s helped me understand a little better that everybody has something they’re coping with.”