Wayne Rogers was perhaps most well-known for his role as Trapper John in the first three seasons of the television sitcom M*A*S*H, which aired between 1972 and 1983. In M*A*S*H, Rogers’ Trapper John was the good friend of Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, played by Alan Alda. CNN reports that Rogers passed away on New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles due to complications from pneumonia.
USA Today tweeted the news.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 1, 2016
Naturally, good friend Alan Alda expressed his condolences via Twitter.
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
— Elizabeth Bennet (@ClassicLiteratu) January 1, 2016
Even Larry King tweeted his condolences.
— Larry King (@kingsthings) January 1, 2016
Wayne Rogers was more than just an actor. He received a degree in History from Princeton University, earned producing credits on a number of Neil Simon hits, and was a very good businessman, particularly when it came to real estate development. In 2011, Rogers told Career Builder that his creativity helped him achieve success in business.
“It was an advantage that I had no rules to follow, no premade decisions, no ‘books’ to tell me how to find success. This allowed me to take a creative approach rather than an administrative approach. It is my belief that the best results in business come from a creative process, from the ability to see things differently from everyone else, and from finding answers to problems that are not bound by the phrase ‘we have always done it this way.’ “
Wayne Rogers also talked about the red tape and rules that come with business.
“Your ability to comply with the blizzard of paperwork and reports required by various rules that come down from Washington, D.C., your state capital or your local zoning board may mean the difference between success and failure.”
Apparently, when it comes to acting it’s easier to walk away when there are “red tape” issues in the television industry. Wayne Rogers left M*A*S*H over contractual disputes. Later, Rogers said that he might have “kept his mouth shut” if had realized the show would last so long.
The Guardian reports that Wayne Rogers said the studio wanted to include a number of things in the contract that he didn’t agree with.
“It said that, in the eyes of the studio, if you behaved in an immoral fashion, they have the right to suspend you. Well, nobody defined an ‘immoral fashion,’ as it were — so it was at the whim of whoever ran the studio.”
Roger told them he wouldn’t agree to some of the things in the contract, and they said too bad.
“We’re a hit show. If you don’t agree, tough, goodbye.”
Aside from his business career and his time on M*A*S*H, Wayne Rogers acted in a number of other television shows. These shows included Murder, She Wrote, Cool Hand Luke, and The Glory Guys. When it comes to M*A*S*H, Rogers initially planned to audition for the role of Hawkeye Pierce, but then changed his mind and decided to try out for Trapper.
Ultimately, Wayne Rogers earned a Golden Globe nomination for his role as another surgeon, Dr. Charley Michaels, in the television comedy called House Calls, while M*A*S*H went on for another eight seasons without Trapper, who was replaced by Captain B.J. Hunnicut, played by Mike Ferrell.
The Globe and Mail reports that Wayne Rogers earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005. He is survived by his second wife, Amy Hirsh, his two children, Laura and Bill, and four grandchildren. Wayne Rogers will long be remembered, mostly for his role in M*A*S*H, but ultimately as a good person, a superb businessman, and a great actor.
[Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images]