Friday, January 01, 2016

Wayne Rogers, RIP

Was sad to learn of the passing of actor Wayne Rogers yesterday after a lengthy illness. Though he had a lengthy career in the industry, the 82-year-old Rogers is of course best known as Alan Alda's second banana "Trapper" John McIntyre on the first three seasons of CBS' seminal comedy series MASH. The show's early years were infused with a madcap zaniness that came from creator Larry Gelbart, and was embodied by the perfect pairing of Alda's Hawkeye Pierce with Rogers' Trapper.

Rogers left the series after year three, mainly because he (rightly) felt that his character was getting pushed to the sidelines in favor of Hawkeye (the most egregious example of this was an episode that stated Pierce was a chest surgeon, when in fact Trapper's primary specialty -- the whole reason he was on the base to begin with -- was as a chest cutter). Regardless, while the show continued for eight more seasons after Rogers left, there's no doubt it lost something ineffable (Gelbart also departed at the same time).

A few years later the character returned to TV via Trapper John, MD, a MASH spin-off that starred the late Pernell Roberts as an older, grayer Trapper. Supposedly Rogers (who himself succeeded Elliot Gould in the role after the 1970 feature film) had been offered the chance to reprise Trapper, but for whatever reason turned it down. To his credit Rogers continued to appear in various roles through the decades, ultimately making the transition in his latter years to a very successful career in real estate investing. Abyssinia, Trapper. Goodbye, farewell, and amen.

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