If Wayne Rogers wasn’t busy starring in M*A*S*H, he probably would have been running the entire studio. You may recognize Rogers from his time onscreen as Capt. Trapper John McIntyre, but Rogers considered himself much more than an actor. He was a businessman, too.
According to a 1974 interview with The Times Herald, Rogers described himself as a very “practical” person, who regarded acting as business, and business as acting.
Rogers played the role of Trapper John for only a few seasons (1972-1975) but during his time with the series he was able to find a good amount of fame. With his business-savvy mindset, Rogers used his acting career to help him in other areas of his life, too.
On short breaks or while on hiatus from M*A*S*H, Rogers would look for other acting gigs but said he found the film industry to be in a depressive state.
“I attribute it to the fact that the business is run badly,” Rogers said in a 1974 interview with The Times Herald. “In the early days, you didn’t train executives. And when television came along, they weren’t ready for it.”
Prior to M*A*S*H, Rogers had small roles throughout classic TV. Some of these roles included: Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, Cannon, The F.B.I., and Barnaby Jones. M*A*S*H, however, was his second series in a leading role. The first series was Stagecoach West (1960).
He continued to search for film roles that could propel him forward in the industry, but the business was just changing too much for the businessman to be able to change it.
“Disaster presents a challenge to me,” Rogers said. “If I were running 20th Century Fox, I’d have built Century City myself. They sold off the property, they could have run it.”
Like many actors who have had success in TV series, Rogers invested a lot of money in different ways. For example, Rogers was a partner in a $2 million, 500-acre grape vineyard in Northern California.
Rogers said acting and business shared two common links: They are both creative and they both require deep problem-solving, which Rogers found thrilling.
“I’m not into business because it’s business,” Rogers said. “I’m into business because it’s interesting. It’s creative to start something. Business per se bores me… I think acting and business are synonymous. In business you’re always acting, and in acting you’re always problem solving.”
When asked in the interview if he would ever give up acting for business he said: “Oh Lord, no. I think the most important thing is the life experience. Acting is business. Anything that’s intangible, out of the way, is life experience. That’s exciting.”
According to the interview, Rogers saw a lot of himself in Trapper John. They both knew how to get down to business when necessary.
“M*A*S*H is a world of controlled absurdity and insanity,” Rogers said. “I’m fascinated by those things that lend themselves to insanity. What a better place to act out your fantasies than in a show that calls for it.”