Friday, January 01, 2016
R.I.P. Wayne Rogers
I really didn’t know Wayne very well. He left the series after the third season and I didn’t join until the fifth. But I saw him at a number of MASH events and retrospectives, and of course the producers and cast talked about him a lot. The sense I got from my limited contact and scuttlebutt was that he was a terrific guy.
Wayne was actually hired before Alan Alda. And he originally auditioned for the Hawkeye role but opted for Trapper because he felt the Hawkeye character was too cynical. As the series unfolded and Alan emerged as more of a fan favorite Wayne became frustrated. He eventually left after season three to pursue more starring roles. But he fulfilled his contract. And at no time did his dissatisfaction affect his work or behavior on the set. He was the consummate gentleman and professional. And like I said, he frequently participated in MASH tribute events. He remained forever part of the MASH family. Rogers once said if he had realized the show was going to run for eleven seasons he might have "kept my mouth shut and stayed put".
He and Alan remained close friends. This is what Alan tweeted this morning:
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.
What many people don’t know about Wayne is that he was also a brilliant financial planner. He made a fortune in business investments for himself and others. There is life after acting.
I’m sorry I didn’t get to know him better. I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to write for him. I’m sorry I didn’t get in on some of his real estate deals. But I always had a fondness for Wayne Rogers. How nice that through MASH, people will be appreciating him for decades to come.