Alan Alda is auctioning off his screen-used M*A*S*H dog tags and boots for charity
They were the only things Alda kept from M*A*S*H, and they have a real-life combat history.
If you've ever wanted a piece of the 4077th yourself, now you can! Over five decades after the premiere of the massively successful show M*A*S*H, Alan Alda (Hawkeye) has decided to put his on-screen momentos up for auction.
The dog tags and boots — both actually worn by veterans before being used on M*A*S*H — were worn by Alda for eleven seasons. He took them home after the record-breaking series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen". Now, they're being auctioned off to raise money for the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, an organization that aims to teach scientists how to communicate more effectively with the public.
The lot includes a signed letter from Alda, which reads:
Boots and Tags
By Alan Alda
I put these boots on every day that we shot MASH, for eleven years. And the dog tags, too. And every time my foot found its way into one of the boots, or the necklace of tags went over my head, I remembered: Someone had worn these once in a real war.
Each of the two dog tags bore a different name, religion and ID number, and I always wondered what had become of the soldiers who had worn them. Which war had they been part of? Had they survived it?
Thinking about these men wasn't some kind of acting exercise. They were on my mind because I was literally in their shoes and wearing the metal tags stamped with the minimal words and numbers that served as their identity. When I laced up the boots, I thought about the guy who had worn them before me, and what he might have had to go through, compared to their present occupier.
When the show ended, the boots and tags were the only things I kept. I never wore them again — just kept them on a shelf.
As the years passed — more than fifty since I'd first put them on — I realized they could have a life again. I had begun to devote most of my time helping improve how science and medicine are communicated. In the past few years, The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science has worked with 20,000 scientists and doctors around the world to help them explain their work to the rest of us.
The boots and tags could be part of that. Putting them up for auction, with all proceeds going to the non-profit Center, is a way for them to march again. This time to help improve communication — something a little different from the conflict in which they were first worn. [Signed] Alan Alda
At the time of writing, the bidding is up to $23,000.