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Wayne Rogers, M*A*S*H's wisecracking Trapper John, dies at 82

Published 01/01/2016

Wayne Rogers played Trapper John McIntyre on M*A*S*H (Lipton/AP)
Wayne Rogers played Trapper John McIntyre on M*A*S*H (Lipton/AP)

Wayne Rogers, who made M*A*S*H's Trapper John McIntyre among the most beloved of TV show characters, has died at 82.

The actor-turned investor was surrounded by his family when he died in Los Angeles on Thursday of complications from pneumonia, his publicist and long-time friend Rona Menashe said.

As army surgeon Trapper John on M*A*S*H, Rogers swapped wisecracks with partner in martinis and mischief Hawkeye Pierce, played by Alan Alda.

In the TV series, based on the film about a Korean War field hospital, the two doctors blew off steam between surgeries pulling pranks, romancing nurses and tormenting their tent-mate Frank Burns, always with an endless supply of booze and one-liners.

In one typical crack, Trapper answers a question with "How should I know? I dropped out of school to become a doctor".

Rogers was on the show, which ran from 1972 to 1983, for just the first three of its 11 seasons on CBS, but his run and his character are especially revered by show devotees.

An Alabama native and Princeton graduate, Rogers had parts on many short-lived shows before M*A*S*H, specialising in westerns like Law Of The Plainsman and Stagecoach West.

In the years after M*A*S*H he returned to TV regularly, with a recurring role in the early 1990s on Murder, She Wrote.

He moved beyond acting to see serious success later in life as a money manager and investor. In 1988 and 1990 he appeared as an expert witness before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee to speak in favour of maintaining the Glass-Steagall banking laws of the 1930s.

In recent years he was a regular panellist on the Fox News stock investment show Cashin' In.

Rogers is survived by his wife Amy, two children, Bill and Laura, and four grandchildren.

McIntyre was on M*A*S*H from 1972 to 1975, becoming one of many original cast members to leave the wildly popular show. He was initially considered for Alda's character, but preferred Trapper's sunnier disposition to Hawkeye's darkly acerbic personality.

The characters were essentially equals when the show began, but it increasingly focused on Alda, which was a factor in Rogers' departure.

Two other actors played Trapper in other incarnations. Elliot Gould was same character in the M*A*S*H feature film that preceded the TV show and Pernell Roberts played the title character in the 1980s spin-off drama Trapper John MD.

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