Alan Alda reveals his Parkinson’s diagnosis – and he has known for longer than you’d think

In this April 26, 2013 file photo, actor Alan Alda listens during an interview at Stony Brook University, on New York’s Long Island. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Alan Alda is 3 1/2 years into a battle with Parkinson’s disease, he shared Tuesday morning, and to hear him talk it hasn’t been a big deal at all.

The actor, 81, shared a litany of his recent activities – boxing lessons, singles tennis, giving talks at Stony Brook University – on “CBS This Morning” as he spoke publicly about his diagnosis for the first time.

“I’ve been on television a lot in the last couple of weeks talking about the new 1/8’Clear and Vivid’ 3/8 podcast, and I could see my thumb twitch in some shots,” he said, explaining why he chose to come forward now.

“And I thought, it’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad . point of view, but that’s not where I am.”

Alda asked for a scan, he said, because he was, weirdly, acting out his dreams and read a story that indicated that was a very early Parkinson’s symptom. It was his only symptom at the time, and it sounds as if his symptoms haven’t gotten significantly worse.

“There are people who have really severe symptoms that they have to face, and that’s difficult,” he said. “It’s not so difficult to say, ‘Oh, look, I’ve got a little bit of a shake.’ So you got a shake.”

Approximately 1 million people have Parkinson’s disease in the United States, a progressive disorder of the nervous system.

And before all vivid dreamers run out to get scans, Alda clarified what he had said.

“By acting out your dreams, I mean, I was having a dream that someone was attacking me and I threw a sack of potatoes at them,” he said. “But what I was really doing was throwing a pillow at my wife.”