Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Wayne Rogers R.I.P.

Wayne Rogers, best known for playing Trapper John on the classic TV show M*A*S*H, died on December 31 2015 at the age of 82. The cause was complications from pneumonia.

Wayne Rogers was born in Birmingham, Alabama on April 7 1933. He attended Ramsay High School there and graduated from the preparatory school Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. He graduated from  Princeton University and afterwards served in the United States Navy.

In 1959 he made his television debut in episodes of the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. He made his film debut in a bit part in Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). In the late Fifties he guest starred on the shows Zane Gray Theatre, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Millionaire, and Johnny Ringo. He was a regular on the TV Western Stagecoach West and appeared three times on the Western Law of the Plainsman in the role of  Deputy Billy Lordan.

In the Sixties Mr. Rogers guest starred on such shows as The Dick Powell Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Have Gun - Will Travel, Arrest and Trial, Gomer Pyle: USMC, Death Valley Days, Gunsmoke, Honey West, The Fugitive, Combat!, 12 O'Clock High, The Invaders, The Big Valley, and Lancer. He appeared in the films Dr. Sex (1964), The Glory Guys (1965), Cool Hand Luke (1967), and WUSA (1970).

In the Seventies Wayne Rogers was cast in the role of Trapper John McIntyre on M*A*S*H. While the character of Trapper John proved very popular on the show, he left after three seasons due to a contract dispute. Wayne Rogers went on to star in the shows City of Angels and House Calls. He guest starred on the shows Men at Law, Barnaby Jones, and Cannon. He appeared in the films Doomsday Machine (1972), Pocket Money (1972), and Once in Paris (1978).

The Eighties saw Wayne Roger appear frequently on Broadway. He made his Broadway debut in Einstein and the Polar Bear in 1981. During the decade he went on to appear on Broadway in Grown Ups, Duet for One, Little Me, Brighton Beach Memoirs, and The Odd Couple. On television he continued to star on House Calls in the early part of the decade. He starred in the mini-series Chiefs. He appeared in such TV movies as He's Fired, She's Hired; I Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later; and One Terrific Guy. He appeared in the films The Hot Touch (1981) and The Killing Time (1987).

In the Nineties Wayne Rogers appeared in the films The Goodbye Bird (1993), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996) , Love Lies Bleeding (1999), and Coo Coo Cafe (2000). He had a recurring role on Murder, She Wrote. In the Naughts he appeared in the films Frozen with Fear (2001), Three Days of Rain (2002), and Nobody Knows Anything! (2003).

There can be little doubt that Wayne Rogers will always be remembered as the practical joker Trapper John on M*A*S*H. He was very good at playing affable characters, whether it was Trapper John on M*A*S*H or Dr. Charley Michaels on House Calls. While his best known roles were friendly, likeable fellows, however, Wayne Rogers could easily play villains. He played a child molester in the TV movie One Terrific Guy and a very unsympathetic used car dealer in the film The Gig. Wayne Rogers was a very versatile actor who could create three-dimensional characters, whether they were likeable or not.

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