When Alan Alda recently announced he’s been battling Parkinson’s Disease, it not only reaffirmed the public’s admiration for the actor for being so honest about his condition, but brought back memories of the TV series M*A*S*H at the same time. Not unexpected, when you consider that it’s difficult to think of one without the other.
“I’m not surprised he would go public with it; it seems like something Alan Alda would do,” Dale Sherman, author of the exhaustive — and indispensable — book MASH FAQ exclusively explains. “You know, ‘This is what’s happening with me, and I want others to learn from it.’ That sounds like typical Alan Alda.”
There’s a level of humanity there, he says, that was oftentimes reflected in his MASH character of Hawkeye Pierce; a character quality that actually proved bothersome to some fans. “He was never willing to just let Hawkeye be this character who was a superhero in a sense,” Dale points out. “As the series went along, you got to see a lot of situations where Hawkeye was not the most perfect person in the world. I think Alan Alda wanted to show that, because he himself feels like, ‘I’m not perfect. People think I’m some perfect guy who’s loved by everybody or something, and I want to show them that things happen. That sometimes people fail. Sometimes people have problems and then they overcome them, hopefully.’ I definitely think that’s part of what Alan Alda is all about.”
The show itself is about all of that and so much more, made obvious in MASH FAQ, which covers pretty much everything connected to the subject, from the original novel, to the feature film, two TV series, the actual Korean War, and various cast members, among other things. In what follows, Dale, whose latest FAQ is on Mel Brooks, takes us on a trip through time, providing plenty of revelations along the way.
Welcome back to the 4077th.