‘M*A*S*H’ Star Alan Alda Revealed Why He Said ‘Yes to Everything’ in Early Acting Days

M*A*S*H Star Alan Alda revealed that he would always say yes to roles during the beginning of his career.

What Alan Alda Had to Say

Alda revealed that he couldn’t say no to work in his early acting career. Terry Gross from NPR spoke with the acting legend about his start in an interview. Gross brought up the fact that most actors from the 50s and 60s performed in a production of “Guys and Dolls.” Alda performed in his own rendition after he graduated from school while he was attempting to make his acting dreams come true.

“When I was a young, out-of-work actor, only about six or seven years after I stood in the wings watching them do it every day, every week, I got a call,” he recalled. “A little theater in Illinois was doing it and, would I come out there and do it? Did I know the show and did I know the part? And I said, of course, I do. You know, when you’re an out-of-work actor, you say yes to everything.”

Alan Alda admitted that he had only seen the play and didn’t know the words at all and only heard the songs. He had to learn the entire part of Sky Masterson in just two days before the first curtain call. “My hands were shaking when I got on the plane. And I didn’t stop shaking until the plane – I never stopped shaking. I mean, I went on opening night with two days [of] rehearsal. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

His Big Takeaway

Alan Alda admitted that he was petrified before taking the stage. Even when he was on stage, he was still suffering from stage fright. He began to play with lint in his suit pocket when he pulled out his hand to begin acting once again and realized it wasn’t lint. the “lint” was actually a cockroach.

“The sight of that cockroach brought me back to reality with such a jolt that I lost all my nervousness,” he shared. “And I really looked at the woman I was talking to and really talked to her. And I opened my mouth, and a song came out. Everything was great. I mean, I’m surprised they don’t bring a cockroach on with me, you know, every time I go onstage as a result of that.”

Although he started his career in theater, he soon moved up the ranks and eventually landed his role on M*A*S*H.

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