Combat boots and dog tags.
They were the only items Alan Alda kept when “M*A*S*H” ended its historic 11-season television run in 1983. He wore them every day on the set of the hit CBS show, which depicted a mobile surgical hospital during the Korean War.
Now, the five-time Emmy Award winning actor is auctioning them off to benefit the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Heritage Auctions will conduct the auction in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, July 28.
The dog tags were more than props. They were actual tags that carried the names of Hersie Davenport and Morriss D. Levine. The auction house indicated that both men were discharged from the U.S. Army in 1945.
“I saw those names every day,” Alda told the Associated Press. “It was an interesting experience to put them on. I wasn’t dealing with props. I was dealing with something that put me in touch with real people.”
Alda, who played surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in “M*A*S*H” and wrote and directed the record-setting series finale, said that he first kept the items on a shelf in his office. Later, he moved them to a closet.
“I saw this as a chance to put them to work again,” he said. “They were the items that meant the most to me.”
Stony Brook University opened the Center for Communicating Science in 2009, a collaboration between Alda, the university and Stony Brook’s School of Communication and Journalism, with Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
The university said the the Alda Center’s graduate and professional development programs endeavor to make science more accessible, focusing on building skills and refining strategies that empower researchers and communicators to reach audiences in new and engaging ways.
Top image: Heritage Auctions