Birthday: April 7, 1933
Died At Age: 82
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: William Wayne McMillan Rogers III
Born in: Los Angeles, California, United States
Famous as: Actor
Height: 6'3" (190 cm), 6'3" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Amy Hirsh (m. 1988–2015), Mitzi McWhorter (m. 1960–1983)
father: William Wayne McMillan Rogers Jr.
mother: Lydia Eustis Rogers
Died on: December 31, 2015
U.S. State: California
City: Los Angeles
education: Princeton University
Who was Wayne Rogers?
William Wayne McMillan Rogers III was an American actor who, over the course of his 55-year career, had crafted one of the most diverse and impressive filmographies of all time. He is especially renowned for portraying Captain "Trapper" John McIntyre in the CBS television series, ‘M*A*S*H’. The son of a Rhodes Scholar, Rogers was once a student at Princeton University where he was part of its theatre troupe, Triangle Club. He did not pursue acting immediately after leaving college; instead he opted to enlist in the United States Navy. During his service, however, his love for performance began to take shape and following his discharge, he made his screen debut in the 1959 television series ‘Search for Tomorrow’. He appeared on the big screen in the same year, playing a soldier in ‘Odds Against Tomorrow’. Rogers was then cast in a series of small and side roles in both films and TV shows before being hired for ‘M*A*S*H’. He left the show in 1975, and in the subsequent years, acted as the civil rights activist Morris Dees in ‘Ghosts of Mississippi’, co-starred with Barbara Eden in ‘I Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later’, and anchored CBS’ ‘High Risk’. The 2003 comedy ‘Nobody Knows Anything!’ was his last screen appearance. Besides being an actor, Rogers was a successful investor and a regular panellist on Fox’s ‘Cashin' In’.
Childhood & Early Life
Wayne Rogers was born on April 7, 1933, in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. to parents Lydia Eustis Rogers and William Wayne McMillan Rogers Jr.
After studying at Ramsay High School in Birmingham, he attended the Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. He later enrolled at Princeton University, from where he graduated in 1954 with a history degree. During his time at the prestigious college, he frequented the famous eating club Tiger Inn as well as the Triangle Club.
He did have acting aspirations even in those days but they took a back seat when he joined the navy. He served as a navigator aboard the USS Denebola, which was a stores ship delivering supplies to port towns all across the globe.
In 1955, while in Red Hook, Brooklyn, he went to see a Broadway rehearsal. The experience left a deep impression on him. He had plans to attend Harvard Law School after finishing his tenure with the navy which he ditched in order to pursue acting. He applied for, and was granted, a resignation from his commission in 1957.
He spent a few years struggling, doing odd jobs such as being a waiter, lifeguard, and a cab-driver to support himself. He sought acting lessons at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater under veteran acting coach Sanford Meisner and choreographer Martha Graham.
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Wayne Rogers began his career by portraying the character Slim Davis in the soap opera ‘Search for Tomorrow’. He also made an appearance in the Golden-globe nominated film ‘Odds Against Tomorrow’.
His first major role came about in 1960 when he was cast as Luke Perry in the western drama ‘Stagecoach West’. He guest-starred in another western ‘Johnny Ringo’ in the same year. Besides these, he played the recurring role of the deputy Billy Lordan in ‘Law of the Plainsman’ (1959-60).
The first half of the 1960s was relatively uneventful for Rogers. He was seen playing small roles in projects such as ‘The Dick Powell Theatre’ (1962), ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ (1962), ‘The Great Adventures’ (1963), ‘Dr. Sex’ (1964), ‘Gunsmoke’(1959-65), ‘The Long, Hot Summer’ (1965-66), and ‘The Fugitive’ (1966). He turned producer for a horror quickie named ‘The Astro Zombies’ (1968), which turned his $47,000 investment into massive profits.
Rogers guest-starred as seven different characters in seven different episodes in the crime-drama ‘The FBI’. In the 1972-release ‘Pocket Money, he worked with Paul Newman and Lee Marvin.
In 1975, he appeared in CBS’ two-part television movie ‘Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan’, which was the fictionalised version of the 1964 disappearance and murder of three Civil Rights activists in Mississippi. Rogers was cast as FBI Special Agent Don Foster (based on real-life FBI agent John Proctor).
He also played prominent roles in the short-lived period detective series ‘City of Angels’ (1976) and the sitcom ‘House Calls’ (1979-82), for which both he and his co-star Lynn Redgrave received Golden Globe nominations.
He had a recurring part in Angela Lansbury’s ‘Murder, She Wrote’. In the reunion film ‘I Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later’ (1985), he replaced Larry Hagman as astronaut Tony Nelson. In 1988, he hosted CBS’ ‘High Risk’, a universally panned TV series about “high-risk” stunts and jobs such as cave exploring, automobile repossessing, and border patrolling.
Rogers’ portrayal of Morris Dees in the biographical courtroom drama ‘Ghosts of Mississippi’ received much critical praise. After retiring from acting following the release of ‘Nobody Knows Anything!’, he remained active as a producer for several more years. One of his last films as a producer was the 2014 crime-drama ‘Jamesy Boy’.
He was given the nickname ‘The Wizard’ for his financial acuity. During his time on ‘M*A*S*H’, he started to develop an interest in real estate and stock markets and later became a prolific investor and money manager. Between 2012 and 2015, he made regular appearances on the Fox Business Network's investment/stocks news program ‘Cashin' In’ as an expert panellist.
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Wayne Rogers played Captain "Trapper" John McIntyre, an impulsive and optimistic thoracic surgeon who serves as the perfect foil for the cynical and pragmatic chief surgeon Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) in NBC’s situational comedy ‘M*A*S*H’ (short for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital).
The series was inspired by the 1970 American satirical black comedy ‘Mash’, which itself was adapted from Richard Hooker’s 1968 novel ‘ MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors’ and told the story of the staff of an army hospital in the Korean War trying to find levity despite their harsh situation.
Rogers initially had plans to audition for Pierce but concluded that the character was too jaded. He was asked to screen test for McIntyre instead, who had a brighter outlook. Assured that both characters would enjoy same importance, he accepted the part. Despite the show being a critical and commercial success and having a stellar 11-season (1972-1983) run, he left in 1975 as he felt the writers were giving the best lines and dramatic moments to Alda.
When the producers sued him for breach of contract, Rogers reacted by counter-suing. The case was eventually settled after a year of legal proceedings.
Awards & Achievements
On December 13, 2005, Wayne Rogers was conferred with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7018 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
Personal Life &Legacy
Wayne Rogers had been married twice. In the late 1950s, he was introduced to his first wife actress Mitzi McWhorter in New York. They wed in 1960. McWhorter bore him a son, William Rogers IV, and a daughter, Laura Rogers. Although they formally divorced in 1983, they already had been living separately for four years by then.
In 1988, he married Amy Hirsh. He also allegedly had a son named Luigi Calabrese (born 1986) with actress Melinda Naud,
On December 31, 2015, Rogers passed away in Los Angeles, California at the age of 82, due to complications from a severe case of pneumonia. He is survived by his wife, three children, and four grandchildren.
Rogers was the owner of three houses; one in Los Angeles, California, another in Destin, Florida, and the last one in Deer Valley, Utah.