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Publisher's Summary

He's one of America's most recognizable and acclaimed actors: a star on Broadway, an Oscar nominee for The Aviator, and the only person to ever win Emmys for acting, writing, and directing, during his 11 years on M*A*S*H. Now Alan Alda has written a memoir as elegant, funny, and affecting as his greatest performances.

"My mother didn't try to stab my father until I was six," begins Alda's irresistible story. The son of a popular actor and a loving but mentally ill mother, he spent his early childhood backstage in the erotic and comic world of burlesque and went on, after early struggles, to achieve extraordinary success in his profession.

Yet Never Have Your Dog Stuffed is not a memoir of show-business ups and downs. It is a moving and funny story of a boy growing into a man who then realizes he has only just begun to grow.

It is the story of turning points in Alda's life, events that would make him what he is, if only he could survive them.

From the moment as a boy when his dead dog is returned from the taxidermist's shop with a hideous expression on his face, and he learns that death can't be undone, to the decades-long effort to find compassion for the mother he lived with but never knew, to his acceptance of his father, both personally and professionally, Alda learns the hard way that change, uncertainty, and transformation are what life is made of, and true happiness is found in embracing them.

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, filled with curiosity about nature, good humor, and honesty, is the crowning achievement of an actor, author, and director, but surprisingly, it is the story of a life more filled with turbulence and laughter than any Alda has ever played on the stage or screen.

©2005 Alan Alda (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A brief but entertaining autobiography tempered with humility and a depth rarely found in celebrity memoirs." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Can't Tell It's an Abridged Version

What made the experience of listening to Never Have Your Dog Stuffed the most enjoyable?

The voice of the author, whose acting talent makes this a truly great comic performance, with lots of laugh-out-loud moments during my long commute to and from work.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author, of course, but also loved the insights into his consummate performer father, his mentally ill mother, his gently wise clarinetist wife, Arleen, his father's vaudeville buddies, his fellow MASH cast mates, and others.

Have you listened to any of Alan Alda’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but may purchase the Audible version of his Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, which I remember was not as good as this autobiography but still worth reading.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, I would have, but it is not the kind of book where you wait breathlessly for the ending or must race to the finish line for the big reveal! It's more like sitting up late having a beer and talking over old times with an old friend.

Any additional comments?

Definitely buy this abridged version read by the author, NOT the unabridged version read by someone else!! I have read the unabridged version, and noticed nothing crucial left out of this abridgment!

The chapter about the author's dog, Rhapsody, may be tough for animal lovers to listen to.

The chapter about his near-death experience in Chile is unforgettable.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lauren
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 12-12-11

Worth It!

Any additional comments?

I was a little worried about getting an abridged version of this book, but after reading the other reviews I decided that having Alan Alda as the narrator was worth it. I am so glad I went with this version. I couldn't tell if it was abridged or not and I really appreciated having the words read in the author's own voice.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic Book!!

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading/listening to his other books. 😃

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Enjoyable read!

Great book! Soothing voice, funny anecdotes and made me step back and reflect. His other books are in my queue. Can't wait. Nice, relatable takeaways.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Alan Alda - Never Have Your Dog...

I enjoyed the content of this book, but it was too short -- not worth wasting a whole credit on it! I feel jipped .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good Advice from a Friend

Having watched and lived with Hawkeye for 11 seasons, plus seen Alda in so many movies and in West Wing....it was like I had downloaded a friend into my iPod to take me on walks. Definitely better to listen to the abridged (what was left out?) with Alda reading than to hear every dot and dittle pronounced by a stranger. And I think he is right: stuffing your dog is probably the wrong thing to do.....

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Stephen
  • Gillette, WY, USA
  • 09-26-05

Not for those interested solely in MASH anecdotes

I really did'nt need to get inside Alan Alda's head but that's where you'll be during and after listening to this book.

You'll also be treated to a visit inside his famous father's head and his certifiably crazy mothers head. You'll also be treated to Alda's frequent nightmares.

If you're after hollywood dirt Alda casually reels off a list of the actresses he has kissed but it's done perfunctorily and without further comment. He also tosses of one quick anecdote relating to each of his co-stars for 11 years on MASH.

5 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

It was awesome. I'm not really into audiobooks but I thought I'd give that a try and I don't regret it.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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inspiring story

I can't recommend this audio book enough. Not only is it a great insight into Alan's life, his ideas as he goes though his adventures are thought provoking and sometimes funny.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Well thought-out, life affirming

I enjoyed this book and have a new respect for Alan Alda, the person. I particularly enjoyed reading about his early struggles and the side jobs he took to support his dream. I found his insights into his life to be honest, especially concerning his parents. I liked that he didn't play up his successes but really wrote about the growth and thought processes involved in his life and his decisions. At first I had a twinge of disappointment that Alan Alda didn't read the book himself, but I believe it gives more objectivity to his story. This isn't a book about the public life of an entertainer. It is a story of a man with a dream and a wonderful attitude towards life.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-23-12

Great

Love it, it has a lot of depth and great character. It also comes with a life lesson; you can't hold back change and take every opportunity to try new things.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Geoff
  • 02-08-11

Dog lovers beware

Great to hear that people we see as 'stars' have ordinary lives and problems just like the rest of us. Alan Alda's voice is a little more monotone than I was expecting from an actor but nevertheless is easy to listen to and he has a story very much worth hearing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • jasper
  • 07-22-17

Enchanting.

Alan Alda is such a pleasure to listen to. His magical and unforgettable voice just draws you. It's like listening to honey if you get me drift. God bless you Hawkeye. Highly recommended book.

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  • Caroline Littleworth
  • 08-18-15

fantastic

Really well written, it was almost like a novel the way it was put together. I was hooked. Great narration by the author.

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  • Jane
  • 10-06-15

Quite an engaging man.

worth listening to. interesting to learn about Hawkeye's life. Good voice to listen to. recommended

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Melanie O'Sullivan
  • 11-08-17

Takes me to a happy place

A book that finds joy and meaning in life that helped me to discover myself a little more. Performed authentically and beautifully.

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  • Colin
  • 08-08-16

Great story teller

It had me laughing at inappropriate moments in public. It's a listen I could do over again.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dean M.
  • 10-13-15

A Heartfelt Memoir

I was quite moved by the time I reached the end of this title. Superlative.