He’s best known as Hawkeye Pierce, the wise-cracking, hard-drinking, prank-pulling army captain — and the only character to appear in all 251 episodes of the legendary TV comedy “M*A*S*H.”
But Alan Alda is much more than the star of a fabled television series. He’s a film actor (“Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “The Aviator”), and the writer-director of many “M*A*S*H” shows (including the finale, still the most-watched episode of any network series).
He also spent 14 years as host of “Scientific American Frontiers.” He’s a visiting professor at Stony Brook University, a founder and board member of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and a judge for Math-O-Vision.
For all that — and because at 81 he remains a compelling speaker and way-cool guy — Alda has been booked as this year’s Westport Library Booked for the Evening honoree. He joins a stellar list of previous award winners, including Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Martin Scorsese, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Patti Smith.
This year’s event is Monday, June 5. By good luck, that’s the day before his latest book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating will be published. “Booked” attendees receive a copy as part of their ticket.
Despite his many years as an actor, Alda has embraced the science community. Interviewing hundreds of scientists for his Scientific American show, he realized he could help them communicate better.
“I’ve devoted a lot of my life to that,” he told “06880” a few days ago. “When I’m not eating or writing, that’s what I’m doing.”
As an actor, Alda learned about spontaneity and connecting to people. He helps scientists focus on “how what they say is being received by the rest of us. It makes a big difference.”
Science and technology have brought us “far beyond what we imagined was possible,” Alda noted. “And, unfortunately, beyond what most of us can understand.”
Libraries play a key role. “Offering inspiration and knowledge about both can be the dating site that helps bring them back together.”
So why is Alan Alda — the actor-turned-science advocate — interested in coming to the Westport Library?
“I’m happy to tell people about my book,” he said. “I’m proud of it.”
(For more information and tickets to the Alan Alda “Booked for the Evening” event, click here.)