The son of a Rhodes Scholar, Wayne Rogers attended Princeton University and acted with the college's Triangle Club players, then forgot all about performing for several years. After navy service, Rogers headed to New York to learn the intricacies of the world of finance. But with aspiring actor Peter Falk as his roommate, it was only a matter of time before Rogers would again yearn for the smell of greasepaint. He took classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse while supporting himself as a busboy and lifeguard. During these lean years, Rogers amazed Falk and his other friends with his uncanny ability to invest his meager earnings into winning propositions. Even after making it as an actor, Rogers continued dispensing wise financial advice to his show-biz buddies, earning the affectionate soubriquet "The Wizard." After Broadway, film, and daytime soap opera experience, Rogers landed his first prime time TV starring role, playing hard-riding Luke Perry on the 1960 series Stagecoach West. During a lull in his acting career in the mid-1960s, Rogers suddenly turned producer, bankrolling a horror quickie called The Astro Zombies, from which he earned back a 2000% profit on a $47,000 investment. In 1972, Rogers was cast as irreverent army surgeon "Trapper John" McIntyre on a new sitcom called M*A*S*H. Three years later, he abruptly stopped showing up on the set. Claiming that the producers had promised him that he'd be the star of M*A*S*H, Rogers was incensed that Alan Alda had emerged as top dog, so he quit the series cold. The producers slapped on a $2.9 million breach of contract suit, whereupon Rogers countersued; these legal volleys went back and forth for over a year before an amenable settlement was ironed out. Like many other M*A*S*H bailouts, Rogers had difficulty finding success as a solo TV performer: of his three subsequent starring series, City of Angels, House Calls and High Risk, only House Calls (1979-82) lasted beyond its first season. Wayne Rogers has had better luck as the star of such made-for-TV movies as Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan (1975), It Happened One Christmas (1977), The Girl Who Spelled Freedom (1986) and American Harvest (1987). The founder of the Wayne Rogers & Company investment firm, the veteran film and television actor was given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005. He died in 2015, at age 82.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Went to college at Princeton University, where he acted with the Triangle Club.
- After serving in the Navy, he was inspired to get back into acting by his roommate, Peter Falk.
- Studied acting with Sanford Meisner and dance with Martha Graham.
- Was the second of three actors to play the character "Trapper John." Elliott Gould played him first in the 1970 film M*A*S*H, and Pernell Roberts had the title role in the 1979-86 CBS series Trapper John, M.D.
- Founded the investment firm Wayne Rogers & Company and has made numerous appearances on financial programs.
- Was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.