Wayne Rogers' manager on why Trapper John left M*A*S*H

Hint: It had to do with Alan Alda.

M*A*S*H was the rare show that was as critically acclaimed as it was popular. So, when anything happened behind the scenes, it was heavily reported in entertainment publications. The show was notable for several key cast shifts, each of which was a major Hollywood news piece. Because the show was so beloved, any shakeups or goings-on were heavily reported.

Among those widely-discussed production events was the departure of series regular Wayne Rogers, who played M*A*S*H's Trapper John. While Trapper John would go on to have a spin-off starring a different actor, 1975 marked the last time Rogers played Trapper John on the wartime sitcom. 

It was a pretty big to-do at the time. After all, M*A*S*H was one of the most-watched television shows at the time. Why would anybody leave the show, much less the series' second lead? 

According to Rogers' personal manager, the actor's gifts just weren't being utilized on M*A*S*H.

"There's just no need for Wayne Rogers to stand on a set all day so that he can simply mix a martini and hand it to Alan Alda.

"From the very inception of the program, the roles of Hawkeye and Trapper were to be equal, almost switchable.

"But it never turned out that way. In effect, Alan has become the star of the show. And whenever we complained, all we ever got was the sick old line of, 'Well, do you resent that Alan Alda is the star?

"Let me tell you something. Wayne Rogers could buy the whole studio. He resents nothing. He and Alan are very close and there's absolutely no personal resentment between them. It's a problem between Wayne and the producers. And the trouble with the producers of M*A*S*H is that they haven't dealt with anyone of such integrity as Wayne Rogers, and what has come about rather stupefies them."

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KirwoodDerby 6 months ago
Whatever Wayne brought to the show went with him when he left. My DVD collection of MASH ends after three seasons. The addition of BJ is a poor replacement for Trapper. The show used to be about having fun, saving lives and making the best of a really bad situation.
It turned quickly into a preachy, political agenda. So even though the show lasted 11 years, to me after Trapper left so did I.
DenisRives 7 months ago
It seemed MASH was more interested in winning a Nobel than an Emmy in the mid to latter seasons. I did enjoy David Ogden Stiers' work on the show. He was a hoot when he got drunk at Potter's mortgage burning.
ttenchantr 7 months ago
Glad he left so we got House Calls.
SusanWilkinson 7 months ago
My mom and I liked Sidney the psychiatrist.
saswifteagle 7 months ago
To be fair, in the seventies film MASH Trapper John character was expert "chest cutter." If I remember correctly he was also the Chief Surgeon. Also I do understand in a thirty minute sitcom you .focus on a central character.
Tommygunz 7 months ago
I liked Trapper better than BJ, all BJ did was fuss about not being with his wife and kid anymore and Hawkeye always complained about the war. I did like the Hawkeye character but the best characters on the show were, Trapper, Henry Blake, Frank and Klinger and of course Colonel Flagg and his different aliases.
BruceBeckwith Tommygunz 7 months ago
I agree with you about BJ. According to the show's dates, BJ arrived in Korea at the beginning of 1952 and the war ended in July of 1953, or about eleven months.
The dates given on the program don't make sense. Col. Potter and BJ arrived in 1951. There was an episode that takes place during the entire year with Col. Potter and BJ. It couldn't have been 1953 because the war ended before the year was up so it had to be 1952. Therefore they were both there at the start of 1952. Also do you really think Col Blake (3 seasons) was there for two years while Col. Potter for only ONE year (8 seasons)?
The reason they jumped ahead was apparently to give them an out if the series was cancelled after the fourth season (a possibility with two stars gone and a move to Friday nights). They could quickly end the war and say it was 1953 after a year of Potter and BJ. Of course, they had no idea the series would last another 8 years. In any case, the 1952 date in "Welcome to Korea" should be ignored.
rb5391 7 months ago
if i was waybe rogers i would have stayed on the show all the way to the end....he's missed oppurtunites and hey you made it as an actor!...a series lead on a great show! i think he was ungrateful...
BruceBeckwith rb5391 7 months ago
Well, you weren't Wayne Rogers. He had bigger ambitions that being second banana to Alda.
Wiseguy70005 rb5391 7 months ago
Wayne Rogers later stated if he had known the series would have lasted 11 years he would have stayed.
TheBigGuyjoebiden 7 months ago
It was obvious to the other cast members based on the interviews I've read that alan alda got all the screen time. Then he wrote and directed numerous episodes. Thats when it stopped being a comedy. It became tree sap and it ruined the show.
I agree totally. I only watch the episodes with Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson. Those are the funny episodes.
M*A*S*H should have been re-named "The Alan Alda Show".
tootsieg 7 months ago
Once Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson left, I felt the show was not the same. Even today, I only watch the early seasons.
Cougar90 tootsieg 7 months ago
Post-Henry and Trapper I watch some of them but not all of them like I do the first three years.
Bloodymama5 Cougar90 7 months ago
"Old Soldiers" is one of the best episodes post Henry and Trapper.
It still brings me to tears
JayFlo tootsieg 7 months ago
I think the replacement actors were a good fit.
LoveMETV22 7 months ago
It looks like Wayne Rogers had a moment much like John Belushi did in "The Blues Brothers."

Lillyrose 7 months ago
Trapper John is my favorite character on MASH, followed closely by Colonel Blake. MASH really lost something when they left the show. It was still a good show after they left, but not nearly as good. My favorite episode is "The Trial of Henry Blake." Absolutely hilarious!
Cougar90 Lillyrose 7 months ago
Larry Linville said once they left the show in 1975, it stopped being a comedy. He's makes a good point.
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