There is no doubt that Alan Alda was dedicated to his work. He played the role of Capt. Hawkeye Pierce during M*A*S*H‘s 11 seasons. In fact, Alda was the only M*A*S*H cast member in all 251 episodes.
Alda’s dedication to the role can be seen in the series and during his portrayal of a Chief surgeon during the Korean War. He even won five Emmy Awards during his time on M*A*S*H and became the first person to ever win for acting, writing and directing the same series.
Perhaps some of Alda’s most dedicated moments were those you couldn’t see. One moment, in particular, made Alda the most dedicated actor and family man. For 11 years, Alda would fly from New Jersey to Los Angeles to film M*A*S*H.
One would think that with all of Alda’s success, he would have been tucked away in some Hollywood mansion; however, that wasn’t true. Alda and his family lived in the same house they did before his success on M*A*S*H.
According to a 1973 interview with the Star-Phoenix, Alda said he would stay in Los Angeles just long enough for the series to wrap up production and filming. Then, he would be right back in New Jersey.
At the time of this interview, M*A*S*H was in the second season, and ratings had been steadily climbing.
“It’s not easy for me to be separated from my wife and daughters during the four months of series’ shooting, but separation is better than uprooting the family,” Alda said.
According to the interview, Alda’s daughters were 12, 13 and 14 at the time. He said each of them were heavily involved in school activities and clubs. To move to Los Angeles would mean leaving that behind, and his wife, Arlene Alda, agreed.
“It would be wrong to transplant them to Hollywood, where they would become appendages of my success,” Alda said. “Here in Los Angeles, people are somehow terribly conscious of status and position. But back home, we’re treated as individuals, each of us accepted for what we are.”
For some, a four-month break away to Los Angeles sounds like a dream, and many would be dying at the chance to get away from everyday life. However, Alda was different.
Alda was busy traveling from state to state, starring in a hit TV show and writing several episodes for the series. How did he handle it all? Alda said he had no social life.
When Alda was away from his family, he said the M*A*S*H cast became his family away from home.
“I actually don’t have that much time to spend with them,” Alda said. “The minute shooting is done for the day, I am racing off to my typewriter, where I’m occupied every evening and every weekend. Not that I mind the schedule. Actually, it’s good because it helps me cope with my loneliness while I’m away from the family.”