This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," November 29, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Alan Alda has been a star on TV, on Broadway, and in the movies. He won five Emmy awards. He's been nominated for an Oscar and a Tony, and he currently stars on "The West Wing" as a candidate for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN ALDA, ACTOR: Stupid rules too, two minutes, one minute, 30 seconds, what can you say in 30 seconds?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Santos' people negotiated with them to (INAUDIBLE).
ALDA: Why the hell did we agree to them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they protect you too.
ALDA: No they don't. They screw me up. They make me feel sick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just be yourself. Don't forget to smile. I'm telling you Santos is terrified to go out against you.
ALDA: You have no idea what this feels like. Terrified doesn't begin to describe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Alan Alda is trying his hand at something new. He just wrote a book called, Rhapsody in Blue."
VAN SUSTEREN: Whatever happened to Rhapsody after you stuffed him? I mean I've read the...
ALDA: He's in somebody's garage now or maybe he's on eBay. I bet you that there are about a dozen dogs that are going to show up on eBay all claiming to be my stuffed dog.
VAN SUSTEREN: After the book?
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did you write the book?
ALDA: I wrote it because what you said earlier when you were doing one of those announcements of what's coming next. What do you call that where you do an announcement?
VAN SUSTEREN: Tease.
ALDA: A tease, yes that's right but you don't look the type, I'm sorry.
VAN SUSTEREN: We do what we can.
ALDA: So, I had this thing happen to me in Chile where I almost died two years ago and I was on top of a mountain in this little — outside a little town called La Serena. It was about the fourth largest town in Chile. And, I got these horrible pains in my gut and I didn't know what it was and it turned out to be a blocked intestine.
They got me down to a doctor who was an expert, happened to be an expert surgeon and he took out like that much of my intestine and sewed the two good ends together. And I woke up the next day and I was so glad to be alive that I was going to die in a couple of hours.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right.
ALDA: You know he said to me, "If you want, you could have this operation in Santiago but that's a couple of hours away by plane and we'd have to find you a plane and the airport here is fogged in, so you may not make it." It means you're going to die, you know.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you know, it's so interesting reading your book because, you know, you always have this impression of people in Hollywood they have very different lives than what you expect. When I read it, you know, your mother was very troubled to put it gently.
ALDA: She was psychotic, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: She even thought one time you tried to push her out a plane.
ALDA: She thought I was going to push her out of a plane.
VAN SUSTEREN: That you were going to push her out of a plane. And, even, you know, you don't even have a Hollywood marriage. You have a real marriage. It's been going on 48 years.
ALDA: Well, a lot of people in Hollywood have real marriages but I don't know how many. I don't know what the facts are. It seems...
VAN SUSTEREN: But that's extraordinary. It's extraordinary.
ALDA: Well, it's ordinary that's what it is.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well maybe it's not, I mean maybe it should be more ordinary.
ALDA: The extraordinary part of my life is how weird it was, how weirdly it began and some of the weird things I had to go through. I mean I was standing in the wings watching burlesque when I was two and three years old because my father was in burlesque. My mother was psychotic.
I had polio when I was seven. I had to get through that. When I was — I almost died on stage two or three times, things falling out of the ceiling and hitting me and things like that. I set fire to myself once. Then, I was making a movie in the Utah State Prison and they made me a hostage. I mean have you spent much time at prisons?
VAN SUSTEREN: I've done (INAUDIBLE) so yes I've been in prisons. They're horrible.
ALDA: They're really bad.
VAN SUSTEREN: They're terrible.
ALDA: I mean it's not a good place. You certainly aren't going to rehabilitate anybody there and these guys were a little nuts and the director of the movie kept saying, "You know if you guys want to get out, you ought to make him a hostage." We were shooting among the inmates and they were in the movie.
And, at the end of the movie, two of the inmates who we were working with thought it might after all be a good idea and they grabbed me by the arm, one on each arm and they said, "We're getting out of here and we're going to take you with us." And they held a razor to my throat.
And, they said, "You think we're kidding don't you? We're not kidding. We're getting out of here." So, I mean they knew that I knew that it had been proposed as a joke but they also knew that I knew it was a razor.
VAN SUSTEREN: It was real.
ALDA: So, it was either real or not real. Nobody was saying. And, I just went quiet. I didn't do anything and a guard came over and his voice was trembling and he said, "Come on, guys, you don't want to do that. You don't want to go to max." Max was like maximum security.
You know what I think it was and I didn't say anything and all these thoughts went through my head. They're playing it like it's a joke but if they get away with it, there may be a car waiting outside. You know it was a really weird experience.
VAN SUSTEREN: If you had your choice, movies or TV which are more fun?
ALDA: Not a movie in a prison that's the first thing.
VAN SUSTEREN: Not a movie — I got that. I actually got that. Believe it or not I did.
ALDA: You know plays are more fun.
VAN SUSTEREN: Being on stage having a connection with the audience.
ALDA: It's more having a connection with yourself because you get into it and you stay in it for two hours and the pleasure of that concentration is enormous and you only get to do that for a couple of minutes at a time in a movie.
VAN SUSTEREN: You wrote in the book how I think it was, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you either don't understand fame or don't particularly like it.
ALDA: A little bit of both.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's odd isn't it? It's peculiar.
ALDA: Yes, well now you're really famous so what do you do? What do you go through?
VAN SUSTEREN: Everyone tells me I'm short.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not kidding. That's what they say.
ALDA: They tell me I'm taller than they think.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's what they say. The first thing they say to me is, "Oh, you're so short."
ALDA: Well, they say, "Look how tall you are." I say, you know, you ought to get a bigger set.
VAN SUSTEREN: And see I always tell people that I play a tall person on TV.
ALDA: Are you short?
VAN SUSTEREN: 5'3".
ALDA: So, is that short? I don't know heights.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm used to it. I don't know. I'm sort of used to it.
ALDA: So, where would you come up to me, you'd come up to like here on me somewhere.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know how tall you are.
ALDA: Yes, so what who cares?
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't, but anyway the book is "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed." Here it is. Buy it. It's a great book.
ALDA: You read it too.
VAN SUSTEREN: I actually read it. I got notes on it. I read it.
ALDA: I'm so impressed that you read it. Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: I always read it. Alan, it's very nice to see you.
ALDA: It's a pleasure to meet you.
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