Alan Alda was born on January 28, 1936 in New York City and is the son of veteran actor Robert Alda. His early exposure to burlesque and vaudeville stirred his interest in comedy despite his father's desire for him to become a doctor. After graduating from Fordham University, he appeared on Broadway and at the Cleveland Playhouse, did improv with Chicago's Second City and was a regular on the TV series That Was the Week That Was. His silver screen debut came in 1963 in Gone Are the Days,adapted from the Ossie Davis play in which Alda had appeared on Broadway. His early film roles included Paper Lion (1968), Catch 22 (1970), Mephisto Waltz (1971) and The Glass House (1972). His defining role came in 1972 when he starred as Hawkeye Pierce in the long-running CBS series M*A*S*H. During the 11 year series run, he won five Emmy Awards for directing, writing and performing. The success of M*A*S*H came as a surprise even to Alda as he did not sign his contract until six hours before the pilot was to begin shooting. He even commuted each weekend throughout the series to his New Jersey home because he did not want to uproot his family in case the series was canceled. In 1978 alone, Alda squeezed in three film appearances: California Suite, Same Time Next Year and The Seduction of Joe Tynan. In 1981, he starred in, wrote and directed The Four Seasons, a comedic look at the relationship between three couples over a twelve month period. In 1989, Alda co-starred in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors, for which he won the Best Supporting Actor award from the NY Film Critics Circle. He reteamed with Allen inManhattan Murder Mystery (1993) and Everyone Says I Love You (1996). Throughout the 1990s, he has appeared in Flirting with Disaster (1996), Murder at 1600 (1997), The Object of My Affection (1998) and What Women Want (2000). In 1999, Alda once again put on the hospital scrubs as he made a six episode guest appearance on the hit TV series ER. Alda is also the host of the Bravo series Influences. He was a noted campaigner for women's rights in the 1970s, and he and his wife Arlene have three daughters. As James Lipton said of Alda, "If you work very, very hard, this is the kind of actor, writer, and director you may turn out to be. And if you work extra hard, this is the kind of person you may turn out to be."