“M*A*S*H” actor Alan Alda’s trademark humor shined when he paid tribute to his former show co-star Wayne Rogers, and it was absolutely heartbreaking.
Alda wrote a tribute in The Hollywood Reporter magazine soon after Rogers died in 2015.
“Wayne was warm and funny and very, very smart,” Alda recalled. “But, as smart as he was, he never told you what to think.”
The actor said if Rogers disagreed with you, he’d ask a question that “innocently invited you to think about what you thought.” Alda then joked that he was thinking about Rogers after making the statement.
After Rogers left the “M*A*S*H” show, Alda said they met for decades when they happened to be in the same city. Alda expressed his new, unhappy feeling about the friends. He stated, “We’ll never again be in the same city.”
Starting ‘MASH’ Together
According to IMDB, Rogers auditioned for Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce character but didn’t like it. But he liked the show, interviewed for the other co-star role, and stayed with the show.
Rogers starred in 72 episodes with Alda but left after three seasons. Rogers died on Dec. 31, 2015, at 82 from complications due to pneumonia.
According to IMBD, Rogers’ exit from the “M*A*S*H” show came with a little bit of drama. Show producers sued him for breach of contract. However, the court dismissed the case when everyone learned Rogers never signed his contract.
Alda stayed on for 11 seasons with the show.
Alda, Rogers Fast Friends On “M*A*S*H”
The 85-year-old actor said he missed his co-star friend after Rogers left the “M*A*S*H” show in 1975.
Before the show started production, the men ate dinner the night before together. Alda recalled both wanted the show to be successful and vowed to give it “everything we had.” The duo knew the show could be more than a situational comedy and the funnyman said the two “wanted to treat it as seriously as anything we’d ever been asked to do.”
According to IMDB, both men started the show with producers considering them as equal co-stars. However, Alda’s performance and creative input led to his Hawkeye Pierce character stealing the show. The move started a rift in the men’s friendship, and it turned into a primary reason why Rogers left the show.
But out of those three years together, the men formed a strong post-“M*A*S*H” friendship.
Alda is a six-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner, but he is best-known for playing Hawkeye Pierce in the war television series. Rogers played his buddy, Trapper John McIntyre. Interestingly enough, show producers spun Rogers’ character into a new series, “Trapper John, M.D.”
Former “Bonanza” star Pernell Roberts starred in the leading role, and the series went from 1979 until 1986.