Beloved M.A.S.H. Cast Member Reveals Parkinson’s Diagnosis on Live TV


Alan Alda

An award-winning actor from the classic television series M.A.S.H. has revealed he has Parkinson’s Disease.

Alan Alda, who earned fame for his portrayal of Army Captain “Hawkeye” Pierce on the Emmy-winning show, has revealed that three and a half years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Alda made the revelation during an appearance on “CBS This Morning” Tuesday.

CBS News reports on Alan Alda’s diagnosis.

“I’ve had a full life since then,” he said. “I’ve acted, I’ve given talks, I help at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook. I started this new podcast. And I noticed that – I had been on television a lot in the last couple of weeks talking about the new podcast – and I could see my thumb twitch in some shots and I thought, it’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad point of view, but that’s not where I am.”

Alda said he got tested for the disease after reading an article about how one of the early signs of Parkinson’s is acting out dreams.

“I was having a dream that someone was attacking me and I threw a sack of potatoes at them. But what I was really doing was throwing a pillow at my wife,” he said.

The 82-year-old recently launched a podcast called Clear+Vivid, which explores all the ways in which people communicate with each other. The ability to engage with people clearly, he says, is the key to greater understanding for everyone. Another reason Alda spoke out was to send a message of hope to those who might be facing the disease.

“In the very beginning, to be immobilized by fear and think the worst thing has happened to you – it hasn’t happened to you. You still have things you can do,” Alda said. “I’m taking boxing lessons three times a week. I do singles tennis a couple of times a week. I march to Sousa music because marching to music is good for Parkinson’s.”

Perhaps one of the best-known people with Parkinson’s is actor Michael J. Fox, who went public with his diagnosis nearly two decades ago.

Here is video of Alda’s announcement on CBS

Despite the prospect of severe, life-altering symptoms, Alda says he’s “not angry.”

“Because it’s a challenge, you know? You’ve got to cross the street, there are cars coming. How do you get across the street? You don’t just sit on the pavement and say, well, I guess I’ll never cross the street again. You find a way to do it,” Alda said. “There are some common symptoms, but mostly everybody’s different and each day is different from the next. One day you wake up, you think, oh, it’s over, it’s gone. Next day it’s back a little worse. You don’t know what it’s going to be, but the main thing is, there’s stuff you can do and I’ve been — you know how I look at it? It’s like a puzzle to be solved. What do I have to adapt to to carry on a normal life? And I enjoy solving puzzles.”

Alda also posted his revelation on Twitter.

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