Beloved actor Alan Alda, a former longtime Leonia resident, revealed on Tuesday that he's had Parkinson’s disease the past 3½ years.
Alda, 82, told “CBS This Morning” that he'd noticed his thumb twitch during TV appearances the past few weeks and didn't want speculations about his health to become tabloid fodder.
"I've had a full life since then [the diagnosis]," he said. "I've acted, I've given talks, I help at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook.
"It’s only about a matter of time before someone does some story about this from a sad point of view, but that's not where I am."
An accomplished screen actor, Alda is most linked to his role as Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce from the long-running hit television show “M*A*S*H."
"I asked for a scan because I thought I may have it [Parkinson’s disease]," Alda said during Tuesday morning's TV interview. “The doctor said, 'Why do you want a scan you don’t have any symptoms?'
"And I said, ‘I want to know if there’s anything I can do. I want to do it before things start to show up.' And so months later [I saw] a little twitch in my thumb.".
Although at first “immobilized by fear,” Alda said he persevered and is now playing tennis and taking boxing lessons.
"Each day is different from the next,” Alda said. “It's like a puzzle to be solved. What do I have to adapt to to carry on a normal life?"
Born Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo on Jan. 28, 1936 in New York City, Alda traveled the country with his parents as a child.
He graduated from Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains and Fordham University in the Bronx. He was in the ROTC in college and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.
He and his wife, Arlene, have been married since 1957 and lived for many years in Leonia. ]
Alda frequented the now-defunct Sol & Sol Deli on Palisade Avenue in Englewood, which was used in his character's daydream in a "M*A*S*H."
Alda commuted from Los Angeles to Leonia every weekend for 11 years while starring in "M*A*S*H" so that his wife and three daughters could have a regular life. They later moved to Los Angeles.
While winning an Emmy and Golden Globe award for his acting, Alda also has written, directed and produced.
He also hosted PBS' "Scientific American Frontiers" for 13 years and has taught scientists and entrepreneurs acting to help them connect better with audiences.
Alda also enjoys horse racing.
During an interview with Michael Kay on the YES Network's "Centerstage," Alda said his father taught him a lesson that had stood him well throughout his career: When you lose a bet on a race, double down.
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