Alan Alda is best known for portraying Dr. Hawkeye Pierce on the hit show M*A*S*H
“Oh my God, hello,” said the veteran actor after receiving a standing ovation. “You know, it’s really hard to describe to you what it feels like to look out and see my fellow actors, my colleagues, my heroes, to welcome me up there like this. It’s an extraordinary feeling.”
“The thing is this comes at a time where I’ve had a chance to look back at my life and to think about what it’s meant to be an actor,” he continued. “I see more than ever now how proud I am to be a member of our brotherhood and sisterhood of actors.”
Alda went on to highlight how crucial it is for actors to “get inside a character’s head and search for a way to see life from that person’s point of view, another person’s vision of the world, and then to let an audience experience that.”
“It may never have been more urgent to see the world through another person’s eyes,” he said. “When the culture is divided so sharply, actors can help, at least a little, by doing what we do. The nice part is it’s fun to do it. So my wish for all of us is: let’s stay playful, let’s have fun and lets keep searching. You can’t solve everything, but it wouldn’t hurt.”
“I thank our great union for this. Let’s honor the union contact,” he added. “I share this with everybody in the room. Thank you so much.”
Alda, who attended the annual award show with his grandkids, is best known for portraying Dr. Hawkeye Pierce on the hit show M*A*S*H, for which he earned five Emmys. He also took home an Emmy in 2006 for his role as Senator Arnold Vinick in The West Wing. Alda’s other television credits include ER, 30 Rock, The Blacklist and Ray Donovan.
Alda has also boasted an impressive film career. He received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in 2004’s The Aviator. He’s also appeared in several critically acclaimed films including Bridge of Spies and The Longest Ride.
In July 2018, Alda publicly revealed he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease almost four years earlier.
“I’m busy,” he recently told PEOPLE of life after his diagnosis. “I do occasionally do nothing and sit around. But I believe in doing everything in moderation, including moderation. So far it’s working.”
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In 2015, his wife Arlene noticed Alda’s arms weren’t really moving when he walked, and he had begun acting out his dreams while asleep. Both were early signs of Parkinson’s. Though he admitted the prognosis was at first “scary,” Alda immediately began educating himself on the disease.
“My life hasn’t changed much,” he said. “I just applied my curiosity to it. I’m constantly reading and trying to figure out the best approaches. So far it’s really interesting. I think it’s helped me understand a little better that everybody has something they’re coping with.”
The 25th annual SAG Awards, hosted by Megan Mullally, are being presented live on both TBS and TNT from the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.