Alan Alda is in the news because he was one of the prominent people who came to honor the late New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Cuomo and Alda had a lot in common. Both men practiced old school liberalism and focused on the facts. (Today, Alda is most visible as a science explainer.) Coincidentally, both Cuomo and Alda were also both parts of famous father-son duos. Alda’s father Robert Alda won a Tony Award for his performance in Guys and Dolls on Broadway. Mario Cuomo’s son Andrew Cuomo is, of course, the current Governor of New York–a role his father played with some aplomb.
But what both men had in common–more than any surface links–was a deeply held, hard-learned belief in effort, in people, and in never giving up. Both did their best work trying to deliver solutions and comfort to others without ducking hard questions. Cuomo–whatever you make of his political career–confronted the tough questions as governor and Alda, especially in his most famous work on MASH, infused popular entertainment with an underpinning of serious issues that drove his (and MASH’s) popularity. Below is Alda talking about why MASH was a success. In some ways, he could be talking about Cuomo when he says of MASH, “we knew we were telling the story of real people.”