Wayne Rogers, Trapper John on TV's 'M*A*S*H,' Dies at 82
After he left the series in a contract dispute, he played another doctor on 'House Calls.'
Wayne Rogers, who starred as the irreverently cantankerous Trapper John on TV's M*A*S*H, died Thursday of complications from pneumonia, his former publicist confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 82.
The actor later played a wisecracking doctor on another CBS series, House Calls.
In 1975, Rogers left M*A*S*H after three years in a contract dispute and because he felt the writers were slighting Trapper John’s character development. Essentially, his character had become the straight man to Alan Alda’s endearingly wry Hawkeye character.
Alda shared his sorrow over Rogers passing on social media.
He was smart, funny, curious and dedicated. We made a pact to give MASH all we had and it bonded us. I loved Wayne. I'll miss him very much.— Alan Alda (@alanalda) January 1, 2016
On the series, his absence was woven into the plot as Trapper John was “discharged” from the service.
Rogers turned down the Trapper John role in the series Trapper John, M.D. (Pernell Roberts played the part) because he didn't want to be typecast as a physician.
Subsequently, he starred in TV movies that dashed that image. He starred in The Lady From Yesterday, where he played a Houston businessman whose life is turned upside down when his former Vietnamese lover shows up and introduces him to the son he never knew he had.
Rogers further played against his usual nice-guy Trapper image in One Terrific Guy, playing a high school coach who induces female students to participate in bogus sex research.
His movie credits include Cool Hand Luke, Chamber of Horrors, Pocket Money, WUSA and Ghosts of Mississippi.
For Broadway, he co-produced Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound and a revival of The Odd Couple.
Wayne Rogers was born April 7, 1933, in Birmingham. Ala., the son of an attorney and Rhodes Scholar. Rebellious, he was sent to a school for youthful incorrigibles in Bellbuckle, Tenn.
He turned things around and graduated from Princeton in 1954 with a degree in history. While at the school, he performed in The Triangle Show, a troupe of farceurs that toured throughout the East. Following the service, Rogers enlisted in the Navy and while on leave in New York became interested in acting.
After being discharged from the Navy as a lieutenant, Rogers worked on Wall Street and then studied at Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. He also studied dance with Martha Graham.
In his spare time, Rogers shot pool and met fellow actor Peter Falk at an Eighth Avenue pool hall. The two struggling actors shared an apartment.
Rogers landed parts in the road companies of No Time for Sergeants and Teahouse of the August Moon and performed on stage in Bus Stop, Under the Yum Yum Tree, Misalliance and The Days and Nights of Beebee Fenstermaker.
In 1959, he moved to Los Angeles and made his motion picture debut in Odds Against Tomorrow, which starred Harry Belafonte. The same year, he had guest-starring turns on Law of the Plainsman, Zane Grey Theater and Gunsmoke.
Off-camera, Rogers was a business manager and financial counselor for fellow actors. He was part owner of a bank in San Jose, Calif., and another in North Carolina. Rogers was active in backing legislation that would allow banks to engage in such activities as underwriting corporate securities through separate subsidiaries.
He appeared often on the Fox News Channel stock investment program Cashin' In.