Fordham College at Rose Hill, Class of 1956
(Inducted in 2012)
A master of both comedy and drama, Alan Alda holds the remarkable distinction of being nominated for an Emmy, an Oscar, and a Tony, and publishing a bestselling book—all in the same year. Generations of Americans will always remember him for his beloved and cocky Captain Hawkeye Pierce of M*A*S*H, who is consistently rated one of the greatest television characters of all time.
Despite an acting career that has never waned, the Bronx native also indulges his passion for science, often combining it with his love of theater. He hosted two acclaimed PBS science programs and helped to found the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where he uses improvisation techniques to help scientists communicate. “They have to be able to use language that crosses fields,” he said. “And they have to be able to explain to their mothers what they do for a living.” On stage, he played Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman in QED, which premiered in 2001, and his play Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2011.
Alda spent his junior year as a Fordham English major studying in Europe, where he performed on Amsterdam television alongside his father, veteran actor Robert Alda. He was cast in M*A*S*H in 1972, earning 21 Emmy nominations and five wins for his work in acting and, later, writing and directing for the long-running hit series. Although still uproariously funny, Alda’s writing allowed the post-Vietnam satire to address some of the more serious aspects of war.
During and after M*A*S*H, Alda directed and starred in The Four Seasons and Betsy’s Wedding, and appeared in such popular films as Same Time, Next Year and Manhattan Murder Mystery. For his turn as a menacing senator in The Aviator, the veteran actor was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. That same year, he earned an Emmy nomination for his role as a Republican presidential candidate on The West Wing, garnered a Tony nomination for his work in the Broadway revival of Glengarry Glen Ross, and published his bestselling memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, and Other Things I’ve Learned. Two years later, he followed that memoir with another bestseller, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.
Alda helped to broaden the public’s understanding of science by hosting the PBS series Scientific American Frontiers for 11 years. In 2010, he invited viewers to explore what makes us human in the three-part PBS series The Human Spark. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1994 and became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.