“M*A*S*H” star Alan Alda did not always have it easy. To see his kids and wife, he had to commute every week – and did so for 11 years.

    Alan Alda was a family man over anything else. He was an actor and cab driver trying to support them, and for 11 years, he commuted a long distance to see them as often as possible after finding his most prominent role. At 87, he loves all his kids and grandkids just as they are, and being around them helps him deal with his disease.

    Alan Alda is best known for his role as Captain Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce in the series *M*A*S*H,” but the actor considers himself a husband, father, and grandfather over anything else. Being around his loved ones was always the most important part of his life, and he worked hard just for them.

    Alan has been with his wife, Arlene Alda, for more than 60 years, and they met in an interesting way. They were at a party with mutual friends, and the hostess placed a rum cake in the fridge to cool.

    Family photo of Alan and Arlene Alda from Jake Alda's compilation TikTok video from 2021 | Source: tiktok.com/@jakealdacoffey

    By some twist of fate, the cake ended up on the floor unexpectedly. No one knew what to do, but Alan and Arlene were desperate to get dessert that day. Thus, the actor revealed:

    “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.”

    Alan thinks the younger generations could learn a thing or two about his meeting with the love of his life. Instead of matchmaking apps on the internet, he suggests throwing a cake on the floor and waiting to see who’s brave enough to eat it.

    The couple has been “inseparable” since they ate cake off the floor. But according to Alan, “I was captivated by her even earlier in the meal when I heard her at the end of the table laughing at my jokes. She had me at Ha.”

    Meanwhile, his wife believed their connection was much more profound. She described him as a “kindred spirit” and someone she had “great chemistry” with. The American musician also explained:

    “It sure was fun and delightful to be with him that night. Boys from Manhattan didn’t date girls from the Bronx. That was a given. It was too long of a trip. He took me home to the Bronx. Unheard of.”

    They married less than a year later, surrounded by their close loved ones, because they didn’t want to spend that much money. Back then, they didn’t have a lot, so they planned to build their career and be able to pay rent.

    Family photo of Alan and Arlene Alda from Jake Alda's compilation TikTok video from 2021 | Source: tiktok.com/@jakealdacoffey

    In 2020, the couple celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary, and Alan opened up to the Washington Post about everything Arlene taught him over the years. Because of her, the actor started reading newspapers and placed more thought into matters.

    Moreover, she never asked him to get a better job when their financial situation was rough. Instead, she supported him fully, told him to live by his values, and was right there when things became better for them. Thus, Alan calls her “the soul of my soul.”

    Alan was 21 when they married, and they started having children immediately. Their finances were terrible for a long time, as they were both trying to find their footing in entertainment. He revealed their first apartment was so small that the kitchen was inside the closet.

    It took the actor around nine years before he started making a decent living for his family. Some days, he couldn’t even afford beer for dinner, which was only $1 per six-pack at the time.

    While Arlene worked as a music teacher, Alan worked as a cab driver to support his family and pay rent. He also sold mutual funds, worked as a doorman, and dressed up as a clown for gas station openings.

    Alan only got a few acting jobs at the time. He also did improv with the “Second City” troupe and got to play a few small Off-Broadway and T.V. characters until he finally landed a role on Broadway in 1959 in a show called “Only in America.”

    His reputation on Broadway soared from then on, and he was cast in “Purlie Victorious.” However, the money was still not enough. Luckily, he landed the part of his life in 1971 as “Hawkeye” Pierce in “M*A*S*H.” But he almost rejected the show because of his family.

    American actor Alan Alda at a press conference in Los Angeles to announce the filing of a law suit in an attempt to abolish the family viewing hour on major US television networks on October 30, 1975. | Source: Getty Images

    He and his wife had three daughters: Eve, Elizabeth, and Beatrice Alda, and the actor made it clear to everyone in the industry that they came before any role. He also proved it many times over.

    Going the Distance for his Family
    Although Alan loved the script for “M*A*S*H,” he hated the idea of working in California because his wife and daughters were in New Jersey. Their daughters were in high school when he was offered the role and thought he would have to reject it.

    However, it was a great opportunity, so he decided to commute from Los Angeles to New Jersey to make his career dreams come true and still remain a present, loving husband and father.

    His marriage was filled with love, fun, music, parties, and joy, surrounded by other artists and people who wanted to rejoice in finding any work. His first job was with a traveling children’s company, where they moved their own background props. Alan said he got $10 for the gig and would go out and spend it on pizza parties immediately.

    For a while, Alan and Arlene lived in Cleveland, where they had their first child. He would read her poetry and stories at night. His wife recalled:

    “It was a warmth that’s hard to describe.”

    When the couple had their two other children, they returned to New Jersey and discovered more about their parenting. Arlene was much stricter on the kids, while Alan liked to be the good guy, so they had to work together and find a middle ground for their parenting.

    Looking back, the musician thinks they shouldn’t have argued so much because some things – like bedtime – don’t seem that important in the grand scheme of life. But she said they were tough on their children:

    “We were fairly strict with them. When they were 16 and all their friends were getting cars, for instance, we said no car.”


    Aside from his three daughters, Alan has eight grandchildren. When asked about the lessons he passed to them, the actor revealed they all took an interest in improv. He added:

    “Improvising is life-changing, because it makes you a different person, a better person. It puts you in touch with your creativity, and you begin to trust yourself more, and censor yourself less. Most importantly, you have to listen to the other person – it’s not just about you.”

    Their first child, Eve Alda Coffey, was born on December 18, 1958. She is the most reserved of the family and opted not to join the entertainment industry. She went to Connecticut College and studied psychology. She lives in Massachusetts and is politically involved with the Democratic party.

    Elizabeth Alda was born on August 20, 1960, and eventually decided to try acting. She appeared in “The Four Seasons,” which Alan directed himself in 1981. in 1986, she was in “Night of the Creeps.” Unfortunately, she didn’t like being an actress. Her father explained:

    “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.”

    Finally, Beatrice Alda was born on August 10, 1961, and she also appeared in “The Four Seasons” with Elizabeth. She had a few more gigs than her big sister in movies like “A New Life,” “Men of Respect,” and others. However, being in front of the camera was not her true passion.

    Screenshot of a home video showing Alan Alda making a family movie with his grandkids from Jake Alda's TikTok video from August 9,2020 | Source: tiktok.com/@jakealdacoffey

    She decided to form a production company, Forever Film Studios, and directed several projects. Eventually, she married Jennifer Brooke and had four children with the filmmaker.

    One of Alan’s eight grandchildren is Jake Alda, son of Eve, who hopes to be a screenwriter and movie maker just like several people in his family. For now, he is most active on TikTok and has talked about what it was like having Alan Alda as his grandfather.

    The young man called Alan a “family man,” adding that going to the Hamptons in the summer with the family and making home movies was fun. The young Tiktoker also said many people commented on his resemblance to his famous grandfather.

    Jake has posted many TikToks, including old family home videos. One video posted in April 2020 shows Alan and his wife recording a message for Eve and Jake because he had gotten sick as a baby.

    Another video showed the couple making French toast together while trying to teach their grandchildren how to make the recipe. In another video, Jake revealed that his brother would visit his grandparents in the summer and make movies, too. He added more TikToks showing those home recordings.

    In another Tiktok, Jake recorded Alan responding to “What’s the secret to a happy marriage?” The veteran actor revealed that the secret was having a “short memory,” according to his wife. However, he also believes it’s always remembering that you’re talking to the “person you love the most.”

    Collage showing a young Alan Alda and his grandson, Jake Alda, from Jake Alda's TikTok video from 2020 | Source: tiktok.com/@jakealdacoffey

    In 2021, Jake posted an appreciation video for his grandparents, revealing more about their marriage, love, and how hard they worked for their family. They had been married for 64 years at the time.

    Jake told his followers the rum cake story, how they stayed together all those years, despite the distance, and how his grandfather had to “kiss many women” for his job.

    In March 2022, it was Alan’s turn to tweet about Jake. He tweeted a link to a documentary about musician Adam Wright that Jake had directed and expressed his pride, writing, “Great work, Jake. It’s engaging and touching.”

    In 2019, he shared a video where he’s dancing with his then-9-year-old granddaughter. They were tap dancing, performing in the garage.

    On Twitter in 2021, his daughter Eve retweeted a video where her son, Scott, proposed to his fiancée. Alan helped his grandson by pretending they were improvising a scene until the young man popped the question. The actor also filmed the entire thing.

    In 2018, Eve posted a special video for her father’s 82nd birthday. She wrote about him going as a clown to her birthdays and doing magic tricks for all her friends. Eve explained:

    “I was maybe 8 years old here…which would have made him almost 31. One trick I remember is that he put the ingredients to make a cake, into a paper bag, then pulled out a fully baked Birthday cake. Love to have these memories and some pictures to remind me!”

    Just like his children, Alan doesn’t spoil his grandchildren, although he loves buying them gifts occasionally. The actor said:

    “I think you can’t express too much how you care for someone, it doesn’t spoil them.”

    Alan’s grandchildren have their “own interests.” Only one decided to be an actor, another is in PR, and the rest are doing just as well. He helps them often and doesn’t mind giving them tips.

    In 2018, Alan appeared on “CBS Mornings” and announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease several years earlier. However, he talked about the “full life” he’s had. The actor had even started a new podcast and had been promoting it on talk shows.

    Alan decided to reveal his diagnosis because people were bound to notice. He didn’t want anyone to hear about his condition from a “sad point of view” because that’s not how he saw it. When asked about the diagnosis, the actor revealed he had already suspected it. Alan had read an article and asked his doctor for a scan.

    Family photo of Alan and Arlene Alda from Jake Alda's compilation TikTok video from 2020  | Source: tiktok.com/@jakealdacoffey

    One symptom of the condition is acting out your dreams, and the actor had such symptom. Once, he dreamed about hitting someone with a bag of potatoes, and he threw a pillow at his wife in real life.

    Thus, he started putting a pillow between them in bed, so she wouldn’t be too close to him when he “acted out” his dreams. Moreover, he took on boxing and marching to Sousa music because exercise helps stop those episodes.

    The actor also tweeted about the diagnosis, so his followers could see he was doing well and was still just as cheerful as ever. He added a gif of himself juggling and wrote:

    “I decided to let people know I have Parkinson’s to encourage others to take action. I was Diagnosed 3 and a half years ago, but my life is full. I act, I give talks, I do my podcast, which I love. If you get a diagnosis, keep moving!”

    His daughter, Eve, took to social media expressing how glad she was that her father announced his Parkinson’s diagnosis. She wrote about his upbeat attitude on “CBS Mornings” and said he was usually like that, adding:

    “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!”

    In October 2022, Alan gave an update about his health in an email interview. He revealed he was “feeling good and charging ahead.” He complied with his doctor’s recommendations and tried to slow down the condition.

    He also revealed that tying shoelaces was tricky because of his stiff fingers. However, he finds creative ways to solve those problems, increasing his confidence. He said life was about “adapting, adjusting, and revising.”

    When asked what makes him the happiest, the actor said it was laughing with his wife. And when asked how he hopes to be remembered, he said:

    “We can’t control how we’re remembered, so I don’t give it much thought. If I leave something behind that someone finds useful, that will be nice.”

    The actor and Arlene live on the Upper West Side and remain as close as when they first started. She constantly posts on Facebook, and he’s mentioned everywhere. They both love to write their separate projects together.

    They also have a house in the Hamptons but don’t live like other celebrities. They like their privacy and how they’re focused on writing. Additionally, they’re still frugal with money and dislike wasting anything. Arlene added:

    “That’s never changed. We are definitely still those two people who would eat the cake off the floor.”

    Their family gathered and prepared a special dance to celebrate Alan and Arlene’s 60th wedding anniversary, and Jake added it to his TikTok account. They also stayed in touch through video chats and more during COVID lockdowns.

    In another TikTok, Jake showed a blooper reel of the couple who recorded a video for their grandchildren. But it’s hilarious because they couldn’t stop laughing. They can be seen wheezing together.

    Anyone can see that Alan genuinely loves laughing with his wife, and it’s beautiful that he can enjoy life with such abandon at 87. He explained:

    “We like to laugh. Everybody is good at making everybody else laugh and [it’s always] entertaining to hang out together.”

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