Wayne Rogers, Trapper John on TV’s M*A*S*H, Dies at 82


by Duane Byrge, HollywoodReporter.com    12/31/2015 6:28pm PST

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 M*A*S*H, died Thursday of complications from pneumonia, his former publicist confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 82.

Rogers 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.

On the series, his absence was woven into the plot as Trapper John was “discharged” from the service.

Rogers subsequently 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 lovers shows up and introduces him to the son he never knew he had.

He 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.

Rogers’ 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.





  1. Got to hand it to Wayne: he smoothly reinvented himself as as investment asset manager. Wonder if some of his clients were old colleagues from Tinseltown.
    In the newspaper wire story, Alan Alda had some very kind words.

    Interesting how Wayne turned his back on the Trapper John role, apparently even spurning the chance to step back in when it became a spinoff series in the ’80s. And who should accept the role but Pernell Roberts. He, of course, was the Wayne Rogers of his day by quitting Bonanza over what he felt were dead end plot lines for Adam Cartwright. Jumping into the Trapper John, Roberts got his career a lengthy second act.

    Meanwhile, Wayne transitioned from episodic tv to eventually becoming a regular on Fox Business and especially Cashin In which airs on the main cable network. (Melissa Francis, ex Little House on the Prairie child star, also has transformed into a financial pundit on CNBC and now Fox Business.)

    Granted weekend shows are often prerecorded. But I was disappointed that neither Cashin In host Eric Bolling or another regular didn’t open or close the show with a live solemn mention of Wayne’s unexpected death from pneumonia. I’ll be shocked if next Saturday’s show doesn’t devote at least a full segment to his contributions.


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