Wayne Rogers, known for his role as ‘Trapper’ John on TV’s M*A*S*H*, from complications from pneumonia in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 82.
Rogers appeared on television in both dramas and sitcoms such as The Invaders, The F.B.I., Gunsmoke, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., The Fugitive, and had a small supporting role in the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke.
In 1959, he played Slim Davis on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. Rogers also played a role in Odds Against Tomorrow which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1960 as Best Film Promoting International Understanding. He guest starred on an episode of the CBS western, Johnny Ringo.
Rogers co-starred with Robert Bray and Richard Eyer in the western series Stagecoach West, on ABC from 1960 to 1961.
In 1965, Rogers was cast as United States Army Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt, later of the Carlisle Indian School, in the episode “The Journey” of the syndicated western series, Death Valley Days. Robert J. Wilke played Sergeant Wilks, who advocates a more harsh treatment of Indian prisoners than does Pratt. Leonard Nimoy played Yellow Bear.
When Rogers was approached for M*A*S*H, he planned to audition as Hawkeye Pierce. However, he found the character too cynical and asked to screen test as Trapper John, whose outlook was brighter. Rogers was told that Trapper and Hawkeye would have equal importance as characters. This changed after Alan Alda, whose acting career and résumé up to that point had outshone that of Rogers, was cast as Hawkeye, and proved to be more popular with the audience. Rogers did, however, still enjoy working with Alda and the rest of the cast as a whole (Alda and Rogers quickly became close friends), but eventually chafed that the writers were devoting the show’s best humorous and dramatic moments to Alda.
When the writers took the liberty of making Hawkeye a thoracic surgeon in the episode “Dear Dad” (December 17, 1972) even though Trapper was the unit’s only thoracic surgeon in the movie and the novel, Rogers felt Trapper was stripped of his credentials.
On the M*A*S*H* 30th Anniversary Reunion Television Special aired by Fox-TV in 2002, Rogers once spoke on the differences between the Hawkeye and Trapper characters, “Alan (Alda) and I both used to discuss ways on how to distinguish the differences between the two characters as to where there would be a variance… my character [Trapper John McIntyre] was a little more impulsive [than Hawkeye].” Rogers considerably reduced his Alabama accent for the character of Trapper.
He succeeded Elliott Gould, who had played the character in the Robert Altman movie MASH, and was himself succeeded by Pernell Roberts on the M*A*S*H spin-off Trapper John, M.D.. After three seasons, Rogers left the show.
After leaving M*A*S*H, Rogers appeared as an FBI agent in the critically acclaimed 1975 NBC-TV movie Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan, and as civil rights attorney Morris Dees in 1996’s Ghosts of Mississippi. He also starred in the short-lived but critically lauded 1976 period detective series City of Angels and the 1979–1982 CBS series House Calls, first with Lynn Redgrave, (both were nominated for Golden Globes in 1981, as best actor and best actress in TV comedy, but did not win) and then later with actress Sharon Gless, who went on to co-star in the CBS-TV crime drama series Cagney and Lacey with actress Tyne Daly (coincidentally, one of the House Calls co-stars was Roger Bowen who played the original Colonel Henry Blake in the MASH movie). Rogers also appeared in the 1980s miniseries Chiefs.
Rogers then guest-starred five times in a recurring role on CBS’s Murder, She Wrote. He has served as an executive producer and producer in both television and film, and as a screenwriter, and a director.
Rogers also starred in several other movies. In 1981 he played the role of an art forger in Roger Vadim’s The Hot Touch. Then, in the movie The Gig (1985), alongside Cleavon Little, as a jazz musician-hobbyist whose group has an opportunity to play a Catskills resort and must confront failure.
Also in 1985, he starred opposite Barbara Eden in the televised reunion movie I Dream of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later based on the 1960s situation comedy I Dream of Jeannie. Rogers took on the role of Major Tony Nelson which was originally portrayed by Larry Hagman in the television series when Hagman was unavailable to reprise the character he had originated.
In 1986, Rogers hosted the short-lived CBS television series High Risk. He also starred as Walter Duncan in the 1987 movie Race Against the Harvest.
Rogers began to test the stock and real estate markets during his tenure as a M*A*S*H cast member and became a successful money manager and investor.
In 1988 and 1990, he appeared before the United States House Committee on the Judiciary as an expert witness, testifying in favor of retaining the banking laws enacted under the Glass–Steagal Act of 1933. He appeared regularly as a panel member on the Fox Business Network cable TV stocks investment/stocks news program Cashin’ In, hosted since 2013 by Fox News anchor Eric Bolling.
In August 2006, Rogers was elected to the board of directors of Vishay Intertechnology, Inc., a Fortune 1000 manufacturer of semiconductors and electronic components. He was also the head of Wayne Rogers & Co., a stock trading investment corporation.
On April 23, 2012, Rogers signed on as the new spokesman for Senior Home Loans, a direct reverse mortgage lender headquartered on Long Island, New York. The national campaign is headed by industry veteran and Senior Home Loans chief executive offier Jason Levy, whose past experience included managing the Robert Wagner reverse mortgage campaign.
Rogers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.
Personal life and death
As a young actor, Rogers met actress Mitzi McWhorter in New York City in the late 1950s. They married in 1960, had two children, and divorced in 1983. They had been separated for almost four years prior to the divorce. Rogers was married to his second wife, Amy Hirsh in 1988.