'M*A*S*H' Star Alan Alda Reveals Parkinson's Diagnosis

Actor Alan Alda revealed Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In an appearance on CBS This Morning, the M*A*S*H star said he was diagnosed with the disease more than three years ago.

"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," he said.

The 82-year-old said he's going public with the news now because he's been doing a significant amount of press lately for his new podcast, Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda, and he noticed something in a video of himself.

"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."

He said he's not angry with the diagnosis and instead sees it as a challenge. He said revealing his diagnosis may be helpful to others with Parkinson's so that they know there are things they can do.

"The thing I want folks to know, and this is not to shortchange folks suffering with really severe symptoms...but in the very beginning, to be immobilized by fear and to think the very worst thing has happened to you — [that] hasn't happened to you. There are still things you can do," he said, adding that he's taking boxing lessons three times a week, playing tennis and even marching because "it's good for Parkinson's disease."

Best known for his portrayal of Army Capt. "Hawkeye" Pierce in CBS' M*A*S*H, the Emmy and Golden Globe winner has had a diverse career, working in genres from dramatic films like The Aviator to his comedic role in Tower Heist to a politically charged role on The West Wing.

Alda was the host of PBS' Scientific American Frontiers for 13 years and now teaches acting techniques to scientists and entrepreneurs.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that primarily affects a patient's movement, according to Mayo Clinic. It can often begin with a small tremor of the hand or muscle stiffness and gets worse over time.

"This is a disease that's different for almost everybody who has it. There are some common symptoms but mostly everybody's different, and each day is different from the next. One day you wake up and think, 'Oh it's over, it's gone.' The next day it's back and a little worse," he said.


"I'm not angry. Because it's a challenge," he said, likening it to crossing a busy street full of passing cars. "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."