Alan Alda Still Makes a Ton of Cash From M*A*S*H
Veteran actor Alan Alda may be almost 40 years out from the historic last episode of his hit sitcom M*A*S*H, but he will always be remembered as brash jokester Hawkeye Pierce.
Even all these years later, Alda still makes a nice chunk of change from the classic and beloved sitcom’s reruns.
Alda hasn’t stopped working
After leaving M*A*S*H, Alda went on to write and direct for feature films, with notable successes including The Four Seasons in which he co-starred with Carol Burnett. He also appeared in several of director Woody Allen’s projects, including Manhattan Murder Mystery and Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Despite being diagnosed in 2014 with Parkinson’s disease, Alda hasn’t allowed it to slow him down. Most recently, he launched a podcast called “Clear+Vivid” on which he’s had lengthy and in-depth conversations with guests including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Goldie Hawn, and Betty White.
He shared with the Saturday Evening Post in 2019 his thought process on what he chooses to work on nowadays.
“Number one, it has to sound like fun, and it has to seem like it will be a challenge because I don’t want to keep doing what I’ve done before,” he said. “It’s like walking a high wire between two buildings and seeing if you can keep from falling off. It doesn’t always have to be in front of a lot of people. I’ve gotten as much of a kick out of performing in a small theater before a couple of hundred people as 20 million on TV or in a movie.”
His least favorite aspect of M*A*S*H
The Marriage Story star has not been shy about expressing his dislike of one part of the military situation comedy: the laugh track. Alda looked at the show’s laugh track as an insult to viewers, as he told journalist Jeff Greenfield at an event for the Museum of the Moving Image in 2013.
“[Show producers] Larry (Gelbart) and Gene (Reynolds) got the network to agree that they wouldn’t have a laugh track in the operating room. The operating room scenes. I don’t know what the rationale was. It didn’t make any sense in the tent, either.
“But, where’s the audience? I didn’t know where the audience was supposed to be. It wasn’t in the studio. Somehow it was the tradition that if we didn’t show the audience at home where to laugh, they would think it wasn’t funny.”
What Alan Alda earns from M*A*S*H reruns
According to Collider, Alda earns a not-too-shabby $1 million per year in residuals from the show that ran 11 seasons from 1972 to 1983.
Alda reunited with his former M*A*S*H co-stars Loretta Swit, Gary Burghoff, Jamie Farr, and Mike Farrell in 2019 on his podcast. As he told the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas that year, the show’s fans don’t seem to tire of seeing the old gang get together from time to time.
“The response to that was wonderful to see,” he said. “It’s so interesting. People like to know that we’re still friends. I guess it’s partly a response to the program originally because the characters were drawn from all over the country, but they had to live together like a family. I think to see that played out in real life is reassuring to people, that a sense of family is possible.”