Alan Alda was born january 28, 1936 Alphonso Joseph D'Abruzzo on January 28, 1936, in the Bronx, New York City, and had a peripatetic childhood, as his parents traveled around the United States in support of his father's job as a performer in burlesque theatres. His father, Robert Alda (born Alphonso Giuseppe Giovanni Roberto D'Abruzzo), was an actor and singer, and his mother, Joan Browne, was a homemaker and former beauty-pageant winner. His father was of Italian descent and his mother was of Irish ancestry. His adopted surname, "Alda", is a portmanteau of ALphonso and D'Abruzzo. When Alda was seven years old, he contracted polio. To combat the disease, his parents administered a painful treatment regimen developed by Sister Elizabeth Kenny, consisting of applying hot woolen blankets to his limbs and stretching his muscles. Alda attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York. In 1956, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Fordham College of Fordham University in the Bronx, where he was a student staff member of its FM radio station, WFUV. Alda's half-brother, Antony Alda, born that year (1956), also became an actor. During Alda's junior year, he studied in Paris, acted in a play in Rome, and performed with his father on television in Amsterdam. In college, he was a member of the ROTC, and after graduation, he served for a year at Fort Benning, and then six months in the United States Army Reserve on a tour of duty in Korea. In 1956, while attending Fordham, he met Arlene Weiss, who was attending Hunter College. They bonded at a mutual friend's dinner party; when a rum cake accidentally fell onto the kitchen floor, they were the only two guests who did not hesitate to eat it. A year after his graduation, on March 15, they were married. They have three daughters: Eve, Elizabeth, and Beatrice. Two of his eight grandchildren are aspiring actors. In an intimate interview Alda revealed that Arlene sometimes will call him “Fonzi” in reference to his birth name “Alphonso”. The Aldas have been longtime residents of Leonia, New Jersey. Alda frequented Sol & Sol Deli on Palisade Avenue in the nearby town of Englewood, New Jersey—a fact mirrored in his character's daydream about eating whitefish from the establishment in an episode of M*A*S*H in which Hawkeye sustains a head injury.
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