Actor and businessman Wayne Rogers passed away yesterday (December 31st) in Los Angeles from complications relating to pneumonia. He was 82. Rogers played Trapper John McIntyre during the first three seasons of M*A*S*H before leaving the series prior to the start of Season 4, frustrated with the size of his role. His departure led to a lawsuit from 20th Century Fox, claiming breach of contract. By all appearances Rogers remained on good terms with members of the cast and participated several documentaries and reunion specials over the years.
Rogers began his acting career in the early 1950s, primarily on television. He co-starred in a western TV series called Stagecoach West from 1960-1961 and made dozens of guest appearances throughout the 1960s on shows like Have Gun — Will Travel, The Fugitive, Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, and The F.B.I..
After leaving M*A*S*H, Rogers starred in City of Angels on NBC. The short-lived detective drama ran for 13 episodes in 1976. He then starred in House Calls from 1979 to 1982 on CBS. He played a doctor on the sitcom, which ran for 57 episodes, and received a Golden Globe nomination for the role.
Rogers appeared in numerous made-for-TV movies throughout the 1980s, including I Dream of Jeannie…Fifteen Years Later in 1985, but stepped away from acting in the 1990s. He did have a recurring role on Murder She Wrote from 1993 to 1995. According to his Internet Movie Database profile, his last acting role was a 2003 movie called Nobody Knows Anything!.
In December 2005, Rogers received a star a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In January 2007, Rogers hosted The Hallmark Channel’s “M*A*S*H Bash” marathon and introduced twenty episodes (you can see some of his introductions here). He joined members of the M*A*S*H cast and crew on stage in April 2009 to accept the Impact Award at the Seventh Annual TV Land Awards.
Outside of acting, Rogers was a successful businessman, particularly with investments and real estate. He owned his own investment company. For many years he was a panelist on Cashin’ In, an investment show that airs on Fox News Channel.
January 1st, 2016 Update #1 – Ken Levine has posted a tribute to Wayne Rogers at his blog. Although Levine started writing for the series several years after Rogers left M*A*S*H, he met Rogers a few times and has some very nice things to say.
January 1st, 2016 Update #2 – Alan Alda sent the following tweet earlier today:
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
January 2nd, 2016 Update – Jeff Maxwell, who played Igor, left a comment yesterday at Ken Levine’s blog remembering Rogers:
Very very sad to hear about Wayne Rogers. I have fond memories of him being very funny and having a big, infectious laugh heard anywhere you might be on Stage 9. Between scenes, he would jump on the only phone on the stage making deals (cell phones didn’t exist). I hung close to his conversations hoping to hear any choice tips, but I was a young goofball and had no idea what he was talking about. Probably still wouldn’t.
He later starred as another doctor in a series with Lynn Redgrave based on a Walter Matthau movie, “House Calls.” I auditioned for a part on the show for director Dick Martin (one of my comic heroes) of Rowan & Martin. Dick and I got along very well, and I got the part of a wacko who holds some folks hostage at the hospital. But I think Wayne may have put a in good word for me.
My heart goes out to his family, and to the entire cast for their loss of a great friend.
January 8th, 2016 Update – Alan Alda has written a tribute to Wayne Rogers for The Hollywood Reporter.