Veteran American actor Alan Alda has been living with Parkinson’s disease for three-and-a-half years now, he revealed on the television show CBS This Morning on Tuesday.
Alda, however, added that the neurodegenerative disorder has not come in the way of him living a “full life”. Acting assignments, giving talks, working at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at New York’s Stony Brook University and his new podcast, Clear + Vivid, have kept him occupied, the actor said.
Alda said he wanted to share his story before anyone else would. “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,” he said.
He said he had gone to the doctor after reading an article saying that an early sign of the disorder included acting out one’s dreams. “I was having a dream that someone was attacking me and I threw a sack of potatoes at them,” the 82-year-old actor explained. “But what I was really doing was throwing a pillow at my wife.”
He reiterated that it has been crucial to keep moving. “In the very beginning, to be immobilised 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.”
A six-time Emmy Award winner, Alda is best-known for playing Army Captain Hawkeye Pierce in the war comedy series M*A*S*H. Alda has frequently been cast by Woody Allen in his films. For his performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (2004), Alda received an Oscar nod in the Best Supporting Actor category.