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.”