Legendary actor Alan Alda has been battling Parkinson’s disease for more than three years, he revealed Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.”
The “M*A*S*H” star, 82, says he went to his doctor after he began to experience a very early symptom of the disease, and he’s maintained a positive mindset about his condition in the years since.
“The reason I want to talk about it in public is that I was diagnosed three and a half years ago, and I’ve had a full life since then,” Alda said on the talk show. “I’ve acted, I’ve given talks, I help at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stonybrook, I started this new podcast.”
The actor said he wanted to open up about his experience with Parkinson’s because he’s been doing TV interviews recently and had noticed his thumb twitching in certain shots.
“I thought it’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad … point of view,” Alda said Tuesday. “That’s not where I am.”
Parskinson’s disease is a central nervous system condition that’s often characterized by a patient gradually losing muscle control. Common symptoms of the disease include tremors, stiff muscles and trouble standing or walking.
Over 10 million people across the globe currently have Parkinson’s disease, and over 60,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.
Alda has appeared in dozens of notable TV and film roles over the course of his career. The New York-born actor starred as Capt. Hawkeye Pierce in the long-running “M*A*S*H” series, a performance that netted him five Emmys. He won a sixth in 2006 for his portrayal of Sen. Arnold Vinick on “The West Wing.”
The actor stressed during Tuesday’s interview that others who get diagnosed with Parkinson’s have reason to remain optimistic. He said he continues to play tennis and take boxing lessons multiple times each week, in addition to marching to music.
“The thing I want folks to know, and this is not to shortchange people who are suffering with really severe symptoms. Symptoms can get very bad, and their families can suffer,” Alda said. “But in the very beginning, to be immobilized by fear and think the worst thing has happened to you, it hasn’t happened to you. You still have things you can do.”