Alan Alda

The 81-year-old stage and screen star has a new book on the art of communication, an ideacity appearance and memories of his first ever visit to Toronto—at age two.

I was under the weather and working from home when the phone rang – "Hello Mike, this is Alan Alda" – and that unmistakably familiar voice triggered images of crowded Korean War medical tents where Alda's wise-cracking Chief Surgeon Hawkeye Pierce kept both his audience and his patients in stitches on the groundbreaking comedy series M*A*S*H.

Pierce may have identified the source of my searing stomach pain, but Alda was on the line to discuss a different subject – communication. When not appearing on stage or screen, the actor's spent the last two decades studying the art of communication and relating, including founding the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University's School of Journalism in New York State eight years ago.

RELATED: Check out our Facebook Live with Alan Alda from ideacity 2017!

Legendary actor Alan Alda stopped by Ideacity to chat about his new book and MASH!

Posted by EverythingZoomer on Friday, June 16, 2017


"That really triggered thinking about this in an organised way," he explained. "We've trained over 8,000 scientists and doctors. So it was a fascinating time for me and I felt we had all come some distance in understanding things about communication that ought to get written about."

And that's exactly what the 81-year-old did. A lifelong science buff – his longest tenure on a TV show isn't his 11 years on M*A*S*H but, in fact, his 12 years hosting the PBS science program Scientific American Frontiers, from 1993-2005 – Alda's most recent book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating, offers a wealth of insight, information and tips about how we communicate, and how we could communicate better, with each other.

The book is also Alda's jumping off point for his recent appearance at ideacity (a ZoomerMedia property) on June 16, where he did a live improvisation with the audience to help illustrate what he's learned about communication over the years.

RELATED: Watch Alan Alda's talk at ideacity 2017.


During our conversation, Alda and I discussed tips for opening lines of communication with loved ones as we age, the circumstances surrounding a photo of him smoking a pipe on a visit to Toronto at age two and, of course, M*A*S*H. Click through for the complete Q&A.

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