Alan Alda was voted the ladies' choice in 1979
Almost half of women polled couldn't get enough of Hawkeye or the actor who played him.
In a fifth-season episode of Night Court, Christine receives a delivery of a calendar she's been eagerly awaiting: her "Sensitive Guys" calendar. "Twelve months of respect!" The very first page she flips to, noted approvingly by Roz? "Alan Alda."
While this episode came out in 1988, Alan Alda had been a heartthrob for women around the nation for quite some time before that, partly due to his understanding and, yes, "sensitive" nature off-camera.
A 1979 national poll conducted by telephone and published in Kenosha News asked women which performers they would most like to see in a movie. At this time M*A*S*H was entering its eighth season and Alda was just stepping out into the film scene. He had charmed on The Carol Burnett Show and had participated in the massively successful children's record and the follow-up television special Free to Be... You and Me, along with the likes of Carol Channing and Mel Brooks.
The Alda fever was alive and well in 1979. "Nearly half of all participants — 46 percent — picked Alan Alda, while the next closest — but far behind — were John Travolta... and Henry Winkler."
It wasn't restricted to adults, either. In the same year, The Tampa Bay Times interviewed a panel of teenagers on their TV habits. The moderator asked about their favorite celebrities and the characters they played. "Alan Alda is my favorite," said 18-year-old Ellen. "I've been watching M*A*S*H for a long time and he is so consistently good. He seems to be the character that he plays. I think he is probably like Hawkeye in real life, and this comes across."
"Alda writes a lot of the scripts, too," added 17-year-old Gina. (Another girl, 17-year-old Lee Ann, said that she instead liked Jamie Farr as Klinger, admiring his "determination." Other teen TV faves included Carol Burnett, Robin Williams and Carroll O'Connor.)
Perhaps an opinion column from Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate put it best when the writer wrote, tongue-in-cheek, "women no more want to hear anything bad about Alan Alda than they once wanted to know that there was no Santa Claus."
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"And Alan Alda's of Italian descent only on his father's side." - He still has Italian heritage.