Alan Alda has Parkinson’s disease. The Oscar-nominated actor appeared on “CBS This Morning”on Tuesday, where he revealed that he was diagnosed nearly four years ago.
“I’ve had a full life since then,” he told CBS News. “I’ve acted, I’ve given talks, I help at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook… I had been on television a lot in the last couple of weeks talking about the new podcast – and I could see my thumb twitch in some shots and I thought, it’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad point of view, but that’s not where I am.”
Alda comes from a large family of performers. Here’s what you need to know about them:
1. His Father Robert Alda Was a Screen & Stage Actor
Alda’s father Robert was a respected screen and stage actor for more than four decades. He began his career as a dancer in vaudeville, and made the transition to acting during the 1940s, appearing in the musical comedies Rhapsody In Blue (1945) and Cinderella Jones (1946). He earned critical acclaim for his performance in the Douglas Sirk melodrama Imitation of Life (1959). On stage, Robert was best known for starring in Guys and Dolls (1950), for which he won a Tony Award, and What Makes Sammy Run? (1964).
Robert acted alongside his son Alan on two episodes of the classic television show M*A*S*H: “The Consultant” (1975) and “Lend a Hand” (1980). The latter episode also featured his younger son Antony Alda. In an interview with The New Yorker, Alan recalls what it was like working alongside his father. “Six years before he died, I had an idea for a part for him in M*A*S*H,” he said.
“He had always wanted to be a doctor. He had wanted me to be a doctor, too, but I couldn’t stand the idea of touching sick people. I made him an older, controlling type of surgeon, who couldn’t get along with me,” he continued. “In the episode, both of us were wounded; he could use only his right hand, and I only my left hand, and that way we were able to operate together. My father was delighted.”
Robert Alda died on May 3, 1986 due to complications from a stroke.
2. His Half-Brother Antony Alda Was an Actor & Director
Antony Alda was the son of Robert and his second wife Flora Martino. He spent his formative years in Italy before attending the Juilliard School in New York City to study musical composition. He eventually turned to acting and directing. Some of his most notable screen credits include Melvin and Howard (1980), Homeboy (1988), and National Treasure (2004). He also appeared in Sweet Liberty (1987), which was written and directed by his half-brother Alan.
Antony’s most notable release was the 2001 television movie Role of a Lifetime, which he wrote, directed, and acted in. The film centered around a former movie star who must deal with the fact that he is washed up. Role of a Lifetime received positive reviews from critics.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Antony spoke on the pressures of growing up as part of a family dynasty. “It works for you and against you,” he said. “People figure you know what you’re doing because you grew up around acting. Other people think you got the part because of your name.”
Antony died on July 3, 2009 due to cirrhosis of the liver.
3. His Daughter Beatrice Alda Is an Actress & Filmmaker
Beatrice Alda grew up acting in several of her father’s releases. She made her debut in The Four Seasons (1981), and followed that up with appearances in A New Life (1988) and Men of Respect (1990). Beatriz also acted in select episodes of The Four Seasons (1984), a spinoff TV series that Alan created. As she got older, however, Beatriz preferred to stay behind the camera. She was a production assistant on Men of Respect, and later made her directorial debut with the documentary Out Late (2008).
Out Late focused on the lives of five people, each of whom are in denial about their sexual orientation. Beatrice followed it up with another documentary, Legs: A Big Issue In a Small Town (2016). Legs is about two homeowners who install a provocative 16-foot Larry Rivers sculpture on their property, and the backlash they get from their neighbors.
In an interview with The Hamptons, Beatrice spoke on what inspired her to make the documentary. “We look a lot about how, in fact there’s even a sociologist in the film who sort of gives a perspective on why it’s important for people to see themselves reflected in their towns,” she said. “So if you move to this town that you think is quaint and historic and charming and idyllic, you want it to be that. So when somebody puts up something that is provocative, potentially, or disruptive or causing a big stir, it ruffles feathers and makes people think that’s not the town I signed on for. That’s not my small town. ”
4. His Daughter Eve Alda Coffey Lives In Massachusetts
According to her Facebook profile, Eve studied Psychology at Connecticut College and currently lives in Winchester, Massachusetts. While she does not work as an actress or filmmaker, Eve is vocal in her support of the rest of her family. In January, she posted a photo of her and her father with the caption:
“Happy 82nd Birthday to my Dad! I was lucky enough that he would come to my childhood birthdays as a clown and make up magic tricks to perform at my party. I was maybe 8 years old here… which would have made him almost 31.”
In the hours after her father went public with his Parkinson’s diagnosis, Eve posted the video of his interview along with a supportive caption. “Glad my Dad decided to go public with Parkinsons diagnosis, this morning,” she wrote.
“In his interview on CBS this morning he was very upbeat (which is truly his approach), and mentioned he’s continued to work and has “had a full life” since his diagnosis. He kinda didn’t mention that “full life” is putting it mildly… I think he’s working more and harder now than he ever has!”
5. His Daughter Elizabeth Alda Is a Special Education Teacher
Like her sister Beatrice, Elizabeth Alda acted in a pair of her father’s releases: The Four Seasons (1981) and the accompanying TV series. As she got older, however, she decided that she didn’t much care for acting, and pursued a career as teacher.
In an interview with the Saturday Evening Post, Alan spoke of her daughter’s career path and how proud he is of her. “Elizabeth [was an] actress for a while,” he said. “But then Elizabeth decided she didn’t really care for acting. She became a teacher of the deaf and a special education teacher in general. [my daughters] all have advanced degrees and I’m very proud of them.”