Review

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned

by Alan Alda



My eighth grade science teacher used to tell us that the definition
of intelligence is "the ability to adapt to a changing
environment." If this is so, then no wonder Alan Alda has had such
a long and varied career. From the venerable Hawkeye Pierce on TV's
"M*A*S*H" to menacing Senator Ralph Owen Brewster in The
Aviator
, Alda works consistently and always seems to be
changing.

Thanks to my Korean War-veteran father, I was reared on "M*A*S*H"
(with him kindly pointing out the show's leaps in logic --- "Their
tour of duty would never be that long!"). As a child of the
1970s, I have fond memories of Alda from his participation in the
children's record "Free to Be You and Me." When he did a guest spot
on "ER" a few years back, as a befuddled doctor slowly coming to
grips with Alzheimer's, I rediscovered just how good of an actor he
is. He is always experimenting and is consistently
convincing.

So if Alda's career is anything but predictable, the same is true
of his recently published memoir. "My mother didn't try to stab my
father until I was six, but she must have shown signs of oddness
before that." Not your typical opener for a Hollywood tome. NEVER
HAVE YOUR DOG STUFFED is not your typical Hollywood book, but more
of a travelogue through an interesting and eventful life. Fans of
"M*A*S*H" expecting long, gossipy discourses and behind-the-scenes
drama might be disappointed. Alda devotes little time to talking
about the landmark series, choosing to focus more on his upbringing
and his time as host of the PBS series "Scientific American
Frontiers."

Told with equal parts candor and humor, Alda recounts the most
valuable lessons he gleaned from his many years in front of and
behind the camera. From his early years traveling with his parents
--- his vaudevillian actor father and his mentally ill mother ---
through a childhood bout with polio, to his years as a working
actor and family man, NEVER HAVE YOUR DOG STUFFED delivers a
well-rounded portrait of Alda rather than a gossipy tell-all --- a
refreshing change in this tabloid age.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on January 12, 2011

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned
by Alan Alda

  • Publication Date: September 12, 2006
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0812974409
  • ISBN-13: 9780812974409