Friday, November 19, 2010

RIP Antony Alda

Tony Alda was the only child of his father's second marriage (Robert Alda and first wife Joan Browne, Alan's mom, divorced in 1957), was born in Saint-Julien, France, in 1956 and spent his first six years in Europe, where his father did film and stage work. Later, during the family's periods back in New York City, he got to know his half brother, who's 20 years older. "We'd go to Alan's place in New Jersey," he says. "His oldest daughter, Eve, was about my age, so I would play with her. We would get together on birthdays." And as a step-mom-and-stepson act, says Tony, Alan and Flora got along beautifully.

When it came to his own acting, Tony says, the most important advice he ever got from Alan was, "Know what you want in a scene." For a while, though, he wasn't into that scene at all. Despite a few boyhood acting experiences, including a 1967 episode of TV's Daniel Boone, he decided to study music and attended New York's Juilliard School. Fed up with Manhattan after his apartment was burglarized, he moved to Los Angeles in 1977 and switched to acting. His first role was—ha! Poetic justice strikes!—a rock musician on a detective series called Switch. That was followed by parts on Knots Landing, Quincy and Alan's sitcom M*A*S*H (where Robert and Tony appeared together in an episode).

The family name, of course, opened mc than a few doors. But though Robert had starred on Days of Our Lives in 1980 and the soap's executive producer, Ken Corday insists, "Antony won us over during the screen test." Tony's half brother believed the family resemblance helped. "My father was one of the most charming actors of his generation," says Alan, "and there was some of that natural charm and charisma in Tony. Plus, Tony's basic honesty added to that, which made him an appealing person to watch." Tony said it did not bother him a bit that he was less watched than Alan. "It's never been a bummer," he sais. Besides, "it's conceivable that teenagers who haven't seen M*A*S*H might say, 'Hey, that's an Alda—he must be related to Tony.' "

Acting dynasty aside, it was Tony's resemblance to a guy named Jeff that helped him get to know his musician-actress wife, Lori. They met in 1978 in Columbus, Ohio, where he was starring in the musical King of Hearts, and she was playing piano in a nightclub. "I was instantly attracted to him," says Lori. "He had a zest for life." She went home that night to find that her mother had left out a newspaper article about him and the play. "It was so weird," Alda says. "Her mother asked her, 'Doesn't this guy look like Jeff?' He was an ex-boyfriend."

"Marriage was good for Tony," says his mom. "It changed him and made him more mature." But some things—such as practical joking—not even love can cure. When Alda and Lori were starring together in St. Petersburg, Fla., in a play about Da Vinci, one scene called for Alda—as Leonardo—to show Lori his drawing tablet. The script called for her to be overwhelmed by the beauty of a sketch of the Mona Lisa. Instead, says Alda, "I had drawn a penis. Lori started crying out, 'Oh, Leonardo!' She was supposed to be crying, but she was laughing so hard she had tears coming down her face." No, it would probably be easier to reform Johnny Corelli.

Tony Alda passed away on July 3, 2009 in California caused by alcoholism.

ALDA, Tony (Antony Alda)
Born: 12/9/1956, Saint-Julien, Rhône-Alpes, France
Died: 7/3/2009, California, U.S.A.

Tony Alda's western - actor:
Daniel Boone (TV) - 1968 (Rudi)

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