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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wayne Rogers Dead at 82; Played Trapper John on M*A*S*H*, which Never Recovered from His Departure; He Got the Last Laugh, as He became a Multimillionaire Businessman

 

 

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

Wayne Rogers was, with McLean Stevenson, one of the two performers who made M*A*S*H* one of the funniest shows on TV for three years. Both left or were forced off the show after three years, and it never recovered, though millions of people still found its flat jokes funny—thanks to the laugh track prompts.

I enjoyed a short-lived show Rogers starred in, after M*A*S*H,* set in 1930s Los Angeles as a hard-boiled detective, City of Angels.

An anonymous entry at IMDB.com states:

“When he left M*A*S*H (1972) in 1975, he was sued for breach of contract, but the case was thrown out because he had no contract. Producers wanted him to sign a morality clause, in which he could be suspended or fired at any time, and he refused because he wanted the same privilege regarding the producers.”

Rogers segued into business, and was wildly successful as an investment advisor and businessman, while still acting.
 


Wayne Rogers, Trapper John on ‘M.A.S.H.,’ dies at 82

by Gordon Bassham
AP/KSN

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wayne Rogers, whose Trapper John McIntyre alongside Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce brought mischief, martinis and meatball surgery to the masses in the 1970s every week on "M.A.S.H.," has died.

The actor was surrounded by family when he died Thursday in Los Angeles of complications from pneumonia at age 82, his publicist and longtime friend Rona Menashe told The Associated Press.

Rogers' army surgeon Trapper John was one of the most beloved characters — and half of one of the most beloved duos — in TV history, despite the actor's appearing in only the first three of the show's 11 seasons on CBS.

The two skilled doctors, Hawkeye and Trapper, blew off steam between surgeries pulling pranks, romancing nurses and tormenting their tent-mate Frank Burns, with a seemingly endless supply of booze and one-liners at the ready.

In one classic moment, Trapper reaches out as though he's checking for rain and says, "Hmm, feels like it's going to martini," as Hawkeye promptly passes him a drink.

And in another line that typified the show's ethos, Trapper answers a question with "How should I know? I dropped out of school to become a doctor."

McIntyre was on "M.A.S.H." from 1972 to 1975, becoming one of many original cast members to leave the wildly popular show that went on until 1983. He was initially considered for Alda's character, but he preferred Trapper's sunnier disposition to Hawkeye's darkly acerbic personality.

The characters were essentially equals when the show began, but it increasingly focused on Alda, which was a factor in Rogers' departure.

Two other actors played Trapper in other incarnations. Elliot Gould was same character in the "M.A.S.H." feature film that preceded the TV show, and Pernell Roberts played the title character in the 1980s spinoff drama "Trapper John, M.D."

An Alabama native and Princeton University graduate, Rogers had parts on many short-lived shows early in his career, specializing in westerns like "Law of the Plainsman" and "Stagecoach West." He had a bit part in the 1967 film "Cool Hand Luke" with Paul Newman.

In the years after "M.A.S.H." he returned to TV regularly, including a recurring role in the early 1990s on "Murder, She Wrote."

He moved beyond acting to see serious success later in life as a money manager and investor. In 1988 and 1990, he appeared as an expert witness before the House Judiciary Committee to speak in favor of maintaining the Glass-Steagall banking laws of the 1930s. In recent years he was a regular panelist on the Fox News stock investment show "Cashin' In."

Rogers is survived by his wife Amy, two children, Bill and Laura, and four grandchildren.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Those first 3 years were fantastic...similar to "All in the Family"s first 5 years.Comedy genius and I never get tired of watching them-they were so good.I think I liked the "Ribs" episode the best though the Colonel Flagg episodes were peak comedy as well.You re right...MASH was never the same and I usually skip any episodes with the bland Mike whatshisname as Aldas sidekick.I saw Rogers in the last couple months on Fox and he looked unhealthy and very frail so I m not surprised--but still saddened.If you could love a show on TV...MASH those early years was the show.They don t make them like that anymore--shows OR actors.

Anonymous said...

Jerry pdx
After the departure of Rogers, Stevenson and finally Larry Linville (and declawing Hotlips), it pretty much jumped the shark, as Alda took more and more control of the script the show became a forum for his diversity ideology. By the end it was dreadful, preachy, pretentious and took itself way to seriously, a shell of a once very funny show.
From what I recall in reading interviews with Rogers is that he quit the show because the producers had promised him that Trapper was going to be the "star", instead they made Hawkeye the central character, though since Trapper John in the movie was 2nd banana to Hawkeye in the movie it seems unlikely they would have changed the forumula for the series. He said quote: "I got tired of saying: Want another martini Hawkeye"?
He said that he simply did not show up for work one day. He gave no notice or warning. Highly unprofessional on his part, which is likely why they sued him for breach of contract. Can't blame them though, his pride may have been stung but you still need to honor your contract.
I did like his character but have to agree with the writers that it was stronger with Hawkeye as the lead character, he was edgier and funnier than Trapper, at first anyways. Too bad Alda ruined Hawkeye with his PC ideology.

Anonymous said...

On Negro Nightly News-no mention of Wayne Rogers passing,but 5 minutes on Natalie Cole finally paying for years of drug abuse and hep c.She was elevated to near sainthood on the newscast tonight,but I never thought of her as that big of a star.Rogers led too normal a life I guess to be memorialized like Cole was.

Anonymous said...

Alan Alda ruined MASH for me. Couldn't stand the SOB.