Bad parenting condemned

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Last updated on July 24th, 2017 at 09:01 am

Alan Alda—whose father worked in vaudeville—describes a charming (and envy-making) childhood moment:

He even recalls some intimate dressing room scenes with the dancing girls. “They’d say okay, Allie, we’re going to, we’re going to change our clothes now, turn your back. You know, and I’d turn my back, and I’d stand with my face in—right in the silk costumes that they had worn. And I could smell the perfume and the sweat and I can hear them changing their clothes behind me. And I’m 2-and-a-half, 3-years-old. And you might think this doesn’t make an impression on a kid that age. It does. It does. It doesn’t go over your head,” he said.

Alda’s 20/20 interview was just aired on Australian TV. The interviewer’s instant, unsmiling response to this anecdote: “Do you think that was an appropriate place to leave a young child?”

Posted by Tim B. on 09/28/2005 at 09:25 AM
    1. Robert Alda was in the orginal Guys and Dolls. “Stick with me baby, I’m the one you came in with…”

      Posted by chinesearithmetic on 2005 09 28 at 11:09 AM • permalink


    1. The old Broadway term for Alda’s father: “Tit Serenader.” He sang happy songs between strip acts at Minsky’s famous Republic Theater. Ah, but who didn’t.

      Posted by Lileks on 2005 09 28 at 11:15 AM • permalink


    1. Do you think that was an appropriate place to leave a young child?

      Speaking as a former young child of the male persuasion, is that a rhetorical question?

      Posted by P. Froward on 2005 09 28 at 12:49 PM • permalink


    1. Well, let’s see.  While I don’t always agree with his political stances, Mr Alda is a reasonable man.  He’s been married to the same woman since 1957, his kids are normal, he has placed his family before his job, he’s clever, intelligent and his hair has finally turned the right color.

      Doesn’t look like much, if any, damage occured.  In fact, perhaps this would be good training for young men?  It just might give them a proper appreciation of the opposite sex at a young age.  That couldn’t hurt nowadays, could it?

      Posted by Winger on 2005 09 28 at 02:26 PM • permalink


    1. Jesus!

      Posted by Brian on 2005 09 28 at 09:43 PM • permalink


    1. Winger I agree

      I sometimes wonder whether very protective child raising practices, as implied by the interviewer’s question, are beneficial to children. Alda’s experiences certainly haven’t seen him take a degrading attitude to women. I remember he was the first prominent male I knew of who described themselves as a feminist. 

      When you remember that in Western culture prior to the 20th century it was not uncommon for older adolescents and young teenagers to be married, I wonder if the pendulum has swung too far towards a sentimental idealisation of childhood. Not that I’m advocating the overt sexualisation of children, I hate seeing 9 year old girls dressed as Britney Spears, but an overly prudish attitude can make innocent experiences, such as Alda’s, seem sinister.

      By way of disclosure I have two young children and if my three year old boy wants to take me into female dancers’ dressing rooms, I would suffer it for his sake.

      Posted by Francis H on 2005 09 28 at 11:19 PM • permalink


    1. As Groucho Marx once said, “You don’t see things like that when you’re in a delicatessen slicing corned beef”. (Or words to that effect.)

      Posted by JimC on 2005 09 28 at 11:40 PM • permalink


    1. Was it an appropriate place? I reckon he was. At that age, like a toddler is going to be damaged by that?

      Somebody buy that ‘journalist’ a clue. Better yet, send them the money to get a real education in journalising.

      That has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve heard for a long time. And sadly indicative of our dumbed-down, namby-pamby lefty media.

      Posted by Nilknarf Arbed on 2005 09 29 at 03:55 AM • permalink


    1. Jeeze. His a toddler. Next they’ll be going on about breastfeeding gives young boys damaging notions about the nature of female sexuality or some other claptrap.

      Posted by Gruntled on 2005 09 29 at 04:01 AM • permalink


    1. My Dad was a musician, playing double bass in various bands around Melbourne all his life.  When I was about seven, Mum took me to see him working at some big theatre.  “Tokyo By Night” was a tits and glitter revue straight out of Joe Eszterhas’ imagination.  If this weren’t enough, lucky 7yo Craig Mc got to go backstage afterwards, and be fussed over by the leggiest hoofers ever, all somewhere between stage gear and street wear.  Those legs are never again as long as they were when you’re seven.

      Mum didn’t take me to one of these gigs again.  In fact, I don’t think she ever let Dad do them again either.  Some strange housewife logic at work there (not that she had anything to worry about).  Didn’t affect me in the least, and I never done it, your honour.

      Posted by Craig Mc on 2005 09 29 at 09:55 AM • permalink


    1. Damn… my dad never fixed me up with showgirls…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2005 09 29 at 08:57 PM • permalink


    1. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

      Hmmmmm. Gets lonely out there, doesn’t it?

      Posted by duh on 2005 09 29 at 10:48 PM • permalink


    1. Should have added, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do…do be do be do..

      Posted by duh on 2005 09 29 at 10:50 PM • permalink


    1. Sorry, I forgot the disco tune I was trying to quote, went something like “suddenly, there I was, never thought something like this could happen to me…” sorry, that’s all I remember, thank god. Who thought that a song so “much fun” back then could be so eminently forgettable?

      Posted by duh on 2005 09 29 at 11:03 PM • permalink


    1. Typical case of American Blind Justice

      Where are the 8’ x 10’ glossy photos…where are the father rapers and mother stabbers when you need them…

      Hey, Alice….

      link is on the anti-smokers thread….

      Posted by duh on 2005 09 29 at 11:23 PM • permalink


    1. Heteropolitick?
      Okay, y’all are safe/saved.

      Posted by duh on 2005 09 29 at 11:38 PM • permalink


    1. Should been Aussie Cracker, god love ‘im.

      Posted by duh on 2005 09 29 at 11:41 PM • permalink


    1. Geezus, woke up this morning and realized I remembered the dreadful lyrics to that disco tune after all, must of been dreaming it all night, yechhh.  “Finally it has happened to me, right in front of my face….”  Hope it runs incessantly through your brain for the day.

      Posted by duh on 2005 09 30 at 09:36 AM • permalink


    1. …And a froggy Green Acres refrain back at ya.

      Posted by monkeyfan on 2005 09 30 at 05:27 PM • permalink


    1. too funny.  bad even in english.

      Posted by duh on 2005 09 30 at 07:16 PM • permalink


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