Alan Alda Discusses “Lend a Hand”


For the past few months I’ve been slowly going through a large stack of New Yorker magazines from 2004/2005 that have been sitting on my bookshelf since they were first published. In the September 5th, 2005 issue I found a short article about Alan Alda. At the time, he was wrapping up his run in David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross and his autobiography, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed And Other Things I’ve Learned, was about to be published. The article, called “Alda Onstage,” was written by Lillian Ross (it appears on page 56) and discusses the play and why Alda decided to return to the stage.

Ross also mentions Alda’s famous father, Robert Alda, and there is a lengthy quote from Alda about working alongside his father in an episode of M*A*S*H:

Six years before he died, I had an idea for a part for him in ‘M*A*S*H.’ He had always wanted to be a doctor. He had wanted me to be a doctor, too, but I couldn’t stand the idea of touching sick people. I made him an older, controlling type of surgeon, who couldn’t get along with me. In the episode, both of us were wounded; he could use only his right hand, and I only my left hand, and that way we were able to operate together. My father was delighted.

Robert Alda first appeared on M*A*S*H in a 1973 episode called “The Consultant.” He would reprise the role of Dr. Anthony Borelli in 1980 during M*A*S*H‘s eighth season in “Lend a Hand,” the episode Alan Alda discusses above. Robert Alda died in 1986.

3 Replies to “Alan Alda Discusses “Lend a Hand””

  1. Aside from missing his dad’s first appearance, Alan Alda’s a bit off on the actual episode facts, though not in a major way. From what I remember, it was Borelli who used his left hand while Hawkeye used his right in their dual surgery.

  2. Please,
    Give Mr.Alda a break! I love him, I’d love to shake his hand.
    A real gentleman.
    God bless you Mr.Alda.
    Your # 1 fan.

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