Biography

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. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi