Arlene Alda, Alan Alda’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Arlene Alda and Alan Alda

Getty Actor Alan Alda and Arlene Alda attend the Premiere Screening Of The HBO Special Alan Alda: YoungArts MasterClass With Discussion By Alda And YoungArts Alumni on September 5, 2014 in New York City.

Actor Alan Alda revealed on July 31, 2018, that he has been living with Parkinson’s disease for more than three years. The actor, best known for his role as Army Captain Hawkeye Pierce on the hugely popular TV series “M*A*S*H” made the announcement during an interview on “CBS This Morning.”

Alda told the network that he thought he might have the disease after he began acting out his dreams. He said he had a dream in which he was throwing a sack of potatoes at someone attacking him. But in reality, he was throwing a pillow at his wife.

85-year-old Arlena Alda has been married to Alan for more than 60 years. She is a well-known photographer and writer; her work has appeared in national publications including Vogue and Good Housekeeping.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Arlene and Alan Alda Bonded Over a Rum Cake During a Party in Manhattan

arlene alda and alan alda

GettyNEW YORK – APRIL 18: Arlene Alda and Actor Alan Alda The National Italian American Foundation East Coast Gala at the Marriot Marquis Hotel on April 18, 2006 in New York, NY

Arlene Weiss met husband Alda at a party in Manhattan in 1956. They bonded over a shared sense of humor and a desire to help out an embarrassed host, who was a mutual friend. In a 1981 interview with the New York Times, Arlene described the moment the host’s rum cake fell off the top of the refrigerator.

Arlene and Alan sprung into action. They both picked up spoons, sat down on the kitchen floor and began eating the rum cake. They discussed that moment in a 2015 interview on NBC’s TODAY show. Arlena commented that it had “cemented the friendship forever.” Alan also joked that current dating websites that try to analyze how well two people match up have it all wrong. He said, “toss a cake on the floor and see who goes for it!” They married after dating for 11 months.

2. Arlene Alda Grew Up Playing Instruments and Studied Music in College

Arlena Alda was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, a fact she has remained fiercely proud of her entire life. She stayed in New York City to further her education. She graduated from Hunter College in 1954 as a music major.

In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Arlene said she grew up playing the piano. But she admitted, “When I was a kid, I loved music but hated to practice.” After giving up the piano, she decided to pursue the clarinet instead. “When I got older and playing an instrument was my own choice, I loved playing the clarinet and took off with it.”

After college, Arlene received a Fulbright Scholarship to study the clarinet in Germany. Upon returning to the United States, she joined the National Orchestra in New York. She later joined the Houston Symphony under legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski as assistant first clarinetist. (Stokowski may be best known as the conductor of Disney’s “Fantasia”).

3. After Getting Married, Arlene Alda Switched her Focus to Photography and Writing Books

Alrene Alda "Just Kids From the Bronx"In her new book, “Just Kids from the Bronx,” author Arlene Alda explores the childhood of some of the Bronx’s most notable natives from Al Pacino to Colin Powell. Alda also tells the charming story of how she and her husband of 58 years, actor Alan Alda, met. 7/13/15 #17542015-07-14T14:37:07.000Z

Arlene Alda has said over the years that she took up photography because it was something she could do while also raising her daughters. And she was very good at it. Arlene’s work has been featured in national publications including Vogue, People and Good Housekeeping. She had her work displayed in several prominent one-person shows, including at the Nikon House in New York City and the Mark Humphrey Gallery in Southampton, New York. Arlene Alda also won a Chicago Graphics Communications Awardfor a photo essay called “Allison’s Tonsillectomy” which was published in “Health Magazine.”

Just Kids from the Bronx

Amazon“Just Kids From the Bronx” by author Arlene Alda

Arlene has written 20 books. Her children’s books often showcase her original photographs. Her most recent work, published in 2015, is called “Just Kids from the Bronx.” It is an oral history highlighting the childhoods of some of the most famous people originating from the Bronx, including Al Pacino, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Colin Powell. In an interview, Arlene Alda said her motivation for the book was to show the rest of the world just how great people from the Bronx are. Alan Alda contributed to the narration of the audiobook.

Arlene and Alan Alda in the studio for Just Kids from the BronxListen in on Arlene and Alan Alda as they record the audiobook of Arlene's book Just Kids from the Bronx. Christina Delaine also narrates with sections read by Regis Philbin, Robert Klein, and more. A touching and provocative collection of memories that evoke the history of one of America's most influential boroughs–the Bronx–through some of…2015-03-05T21:23:59.000Z

4. Arlene and Alan Alda Have Three Daughters and Eight Grandchildren

Arlene and Alan Alda were married in 1957. Their daughter Eve arrived one year later. Elizabeth was born in 1960 and Beatrice followed in 1961.

Youngest daughter Beatrice followed her father’s footsteps into the acting world. She has appeared in films including “The Four Seasons” in 1981 and “Men of Respect” in 1990. She is also the co-foundr of Forever Films. Behind the scenes, she wrote and directed the documentary “Out Late.” The film features five people who chose to come out as gay, lesbian or transgender later in life.

Elizabeth Elda also appeared in “The Four Seasons” alongside her sister Beatrice. Her only other movie role was in “Night of the Creeps” in 1986.

Oldest daughter Eve Alda Coffey graduated from the University of Connecticut. She did not follow the rest of the family into acting. In January 2018, Alan Alda shared this tidbit about his daughter on Twitter. “Love this post from my daughter @EveCoffey: “So incredibly refreshing the day after an awards show and not hear any discussion of best and worst dressed women!! (Just that they were in black. Not one comment about style). Could we actually be moving forward a little #timesup”.

Eve posted support for her father’s decision to go public with his Parkinson’s diagnosis. 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. Arlene and Alan Alda Are Strong Advocates for Women’s Rights

Arlene and Alan Alda

GettyWASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 07: (AFP OUT) Arlene Alda and Alan Alda arrive at the formal Artist’s Dinner honoring the recipients of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Secretary of State John F. Kerry at the U.S. Department of State on December 7, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Actor Alan Alda has been an advocate for women’s rights for decades. He was a vocal supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was approved by Congress but never ratified by the states. Alan was also a member of the International Women’s Year Commission put together by President Ford in 1976.

In the 1981 New York Times interview references above, Arlene was asked how much of a role she played in her husband’s political leanings. She told the newspaper, “From the time I met him, I’ve only known him to be a fair-minded person. There was no prompting from me. The issues just sort of presented themselves, and he decided to use his visibility to do something he felt very strongly about. I got the feeling that because he had daughters, a concerned wife – I was in the Women’s Strike for Peace – and saw social inequities, these all fed into his wanting to do something.”

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