Arlene Alda Biography

(Musician, Photographer, Writer)

Birthday: December 7, 1933 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Bronx, New York, United States

Arlene Alda is an American musician, writer, and photographer, best known for writing bestselling children’s books, such as ‘Sheep, Sheep Sheep, Help Me Fall Asleep’ (1992), ‘Arlene Alda's 1,2,3’ (1998), ‘Hurry Granny Annie’ (1999), ‘The Book of ZZZs’ (2005), and ‘Except the Color Grey’ (2011). Her latest book, ‘Just Kids from the Bronx: Telling It the Way It Was: An Oral History,’ was released in 2015. She has written 15 children’s books, and most of them have been successful. Her work as a photographer has been highlighted in well-known publications such as ‘Vogue,’ ‘Life,’ ‘People,’ ‘The Saturday Evening Post,’ and ‘New York Times.’ Her photos have also been exhibited at the ‘Nikon House’ in New York City and the ‘Mark Humphrey Gallery’ in Southampton, New York. As a musician, she learned playing the clarinet and performed as a member of the ‘Houston Symphony Orchestra.’ She later performed with the ‘Ridgefield Orchestra,’ until she met her husband, actor Alan Alda, and quit her music career to focus on her married life. However, her love for photography and writing continued. She also co-wrote a book titled ‘The Last Days of Mash’ with her husband. She was honored with the ‘Chicago Graphics Communications Award’ for her photo essay ‘Allison's Tonsillectomy.’
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Arlene Weiss

Age: 89 Years, 89 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Alan Alda (m. 1957)

father: Robert Alda

mother: Joan Browne

children: Beatrice Alda, Elizabeth Alda, Eve Alda

Writers Photographers

Notable Alumni: Hunter College

Grouping of People: Jewish Musician

City: Bronx, New York

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Hunter College

Childhood & Early Life
Arlene was born Arlene Weiss, on March 12, 1933, in the Bronx, New York City. Her parents were Jewish.
She completed her schooling from ‘Evander Childs High School.’ In 1954, she graduated in music from ‘Hunter College,’ New York.
She was a member of ‘Phi Beta Kappa’ and was a “Cum Laude” scholar. She also won a ‘Fulbright Scholarship’ to study music in Europe.
Soon after, she joined a training orchestra conducted by Leon Barzin, the Belgian-born American conductor who founded the ‘National Orchestral Association.’ Arlene also started taking interest in the clarinet and started studying the instrument under Abraham Goldstein and Leon Russianoff.
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After training in the clarinet, she joined the ‘Houston Symphony Orchestra,’ playing assistant first clarinet and bass clarinet. She gave her first performance as a member of the ‘Ridgefield Orchestra.’
She played under conductor Beatrice Brown.
She also taught music as a private instructor until she developed a profound interest in photography and switched careers to become an avid photographer.
In 1967, she started learning photography with Mort Shapiro and Lou Bernstein. She also worked as a freelance photographer.
She got her work featured in famous magazines such as ‘Life,’ ‘Vogue,’ ‘People,’ ‘The Saturday Evening Post,’ and ‘Today’s Health Magazine.’ Her photographs have also been featured in ‘The New York Times,’ ‘Redbook,’ ‘Good Housekeeping,’ and ‘People.’
Her work also became part of quite a few exhibitions, such as those at the‘Nikon House’ in New York City and the ‘Mark Humphrey Gallery’ in Southampton, New York.
Alda has written 15 books for children. She uses her own photographs as illustrations in the books.
She has also written a number of bestsellers, such as ‘Sheep, Sheep Sheep, Help Me Fall Asleep (1992), ‘Arlene Alda's 1,2,3’ (1998), ‘The Book of ZZZs ‘(2005), ‘Did You Say Pears?’ (2006), and ‘Except the Color Grey’ (2011). Her other popular books are ‘Hurry Granny Annie’ (1999) and ‘Iris Has a Virus’ (2008).
She made her debut as an author in 1981, with ‘On Set: A Personal Story in Photographs and Words.’ The book was based on a series of photos that she had clicked on the sets of the film ‘The Four Seasons.’
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The film was written and directed by her husband, actor Alan Alda. He also starred in the film.
She released her next book, ‘Sonya’s Mommy Works,’ in 1982, followed by ‘Mathew and His Dad’ in 1983, which explored the disruptive relationship between a father and son. Her first popular book was ‘Sheep, Sheep Sheep, Help Me Fall Asleep,’ which released in 1992.
Her other popular releases in the 1990s were ‘Pig, Horse, or Cow, Don't Wake Me Now’ (1994), ‘Arlene Alda's ABC: What Do You See?’ (1993), ‘Hold the Bus!: A Counting Book from 1 to 10’ (1996), ‘Arlene Alda's 1 2 3: What Do You See?’ (1998), and ‘Hurry Granny Annie’ (1999). In the next decade, she illustrated for ‘97 Orchard Street, New York’ (2001) and wrote ‘Morning Glory Monday’ (2003), ‘The Book of ZZZs’ (2005), ‘Did You Say Pears?’ (2006), ‘Here a Face, There a Face’ (2008), and ‘Lulu’s Piano Lesson’ (2010).
Her latest book, ‘Just Kids from the Bronx: Telling It the Way It Was: An Oral History,’ was released in 2015. The book includes interviews from various Bronxites, ranging from ages 23 to 93, such as Al Pacino, Mary Higgins Clark, Avery Corman, Colin Powell, Regis Philbin, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Apart from writing children’s books, she has contributed to books such as ‘Women of Vision: Photographic Statements of 20 Women Photographers’ and ‘Soho Gallery 2.’ She has also collaborated with her husband, actor Alan Alda, for many books.
The couple co-wrote a book titled ‘The Last Days of Mash’ (1983).
Awards & Achievements
She won the ‘New Jersey Institute of Technology’ award in 1983. She also received a ‘Chicago Graphics Communications Award’ for her photo essay ‘Allison's Tonsillectomy,’ which was featured in ‘Today’s Health Magazine.’
Family & Personal Life
Arlene and her husband, Alan Alda, met for the first time at a Manhattan party, where they ate a rum cake off the floor. This was the beginning of a friendship that eventually turned into a partnership of more than 5 decades.
Arlene married Alan on March 15, 1957. At the time, he was a young, struggling actor.
She is 3 years older to him, but they have been married for 58 years. She gave up her music career after marriage but followed her love for photography and writing.
They have three daughters: Eve, Elizabeth, and Beatrice. Elizabeth and Beatrice are both actors.
They also have eight grandchildren.

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