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The Aldas at the Bronx Museum

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The Aldas are putting on a show.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts will host Arlene Alda, musician, writer, photographer, and wife of actor Alan Alda, as part of its “Back in the Bronx” series February 22. At the event Alda will answer questions about growing up in the Bronx, as posed by her husband.

“I thought it would be fun if my husband got up and interviewed me,” she said. “I have no idea what he’s going to ask.”

Alda also plans to read parts of her recently completed manuscript, which features interviews with other famous former Bronxites. The book, “Just Kids from the Bronx,” will be published February 2015.

Alda said the idea for the book came from meeting Mickey Drexler, CEO of J. Crew, at a friend’s house. They realized they had grown up in the same apartment building near Allerton Avenue, and went back and visited their old home together. After that experience, Alda said she wanted to learn what other prominent Bronxites’ stories and influences are.

“It became a project in my mind,” she said.

Among those featured are: Regis Philbin, author Mary Higgins Clark, rapper Grandmaster Melle Mel, architect Daniel Libeskind, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and borough historian Lloyd Ultan.

Alda said it was important to her to include both this wide range of subjects as well as a range of time in order to create a fuller picture of the Bronx.

Born in 1933, she described her childhood in the 1940s as a time when things were good. The daughter of Eastern European immigrants, Alda lived with her family of five in a one-bedroom apartment. But she said she spent her childhood outside playing street games such as marbles, handball and jump rope in her neighborhood, only heading home when it was time for dinner.

“It was a time of tremendous freedom for kids and tremendous optimism for the future.”

Although Alda left the Bronx around 1957 to join the Houston Symphony and then moved to Manhattan, her father lived in her childhood home until he died in 1986, so she returned often.

“I kept going back, I always enjoyed going back,” she said. “I always feel at home in the Bronx.”

Alison Chernow, the museum’s director of external affairs, said Alda was a natural choice for the series, which she hopes will make the museum a hub for former Bronxites. The museum plans to hold the events about every two months.

The event is noon, Saturday, Feb. 22, at the museum at 1040 Grand Concourse. Lunch will be provided. Tickets are $5 for museum members and $10 for non-members.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.
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