The Net Worth of Actor Wayne Rogers of M*A*S*H*
By the time he died at the end of 2015, Wayne Rogers—the late actor best known for his role as Trapper John on the critically acclaimed TV series M*A*S*H—had amassed a net worth of approximately $75 million.
Rogers proved to be an exception to the stereotype that actors and other entertainers are careless with their money. After the long-running series he starred in ended its run in 1983, Rogers was enormously successful in the years that followed his acting career, building up his wealth with projects and investments outside of the entertainment industry.
Building a Fortune
Rogers earned his fortune with Wayne M. Rogers & Co., the investment strategy firm he founded in 1971. The actor’s namesake company initially focused on providing business management services to other Hollywood personalities. His interest in this type of work began in his early days of acting. While starring in "M*A*S*H," he saw actors losing a lot of money at the hands of poor or dishonest business manager.
His friend and roommate, fellow actor Peter Falk, was one of them. Rogers was determined not to let that happen to himself, so he took control of his own finances and invested his money. When he started having some success, he began helping others, doubling as an actor and investment adviser to Falk and James Caan, among others.
Real Estate Investments
Rogers was a real estate investor as well. While starring in "M*A*S*H," he made a point of getting friendly with Lew Wolff, who was the head of real estate for 20th Century Fox Studios, where the show was filmed.
Since Rogers was adept at learning his lines quickly, he had ample free time between shoots and spent much of it in investment discussions with Wolff, who was a successful developer at the time. The actor’s subsequent forays into real estate development included residential and commercial projects in California, Arizona, Utah, and Florida.
Additional Revenue Streams
Later in his life, Rogers was actively involved in the management of the companies in which he invested, with an eye toward improving profitability and unlocking hidden value. He became chairman and CEO of Stop-N-Save, a convenience store chain in the Southeast, and he was also part of an investor group that bought Kleinfeld Bridal, which is now one of the world's largest sellers of wedding dresses.
Rogers also sat on various corporate boards, including Vishay Intertechnology, an NYSE-listed corporation. His personal holdings in that company alone were worth about $1.4 million. A principal owner of Delta Pacific Transportation, a Mississippi River barge company, he eventually sold the company's 25 barges for scrap, earning $2 million.
Passing on Investment Advice and More
Prior to his passing, Rogers regularly appeared as a commentator on the Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network. Periodically, he also shared his views on the markets, investing, and politics in various financial publications, such as Barron's. His philosophy echoed those of conservative, risk-averse investing strategies pursued by Wall Street pros for their portfolios.
In a 2010 interview with Rogers, Geoff Williams of financial blog WalletPop asked for advice about how to invest $500, $5,000, or $10,000. In the answer Rogers gave, he advocated taking a conservative approach:
"Put it in a savings instrument that's very safe, where you're going to make a little money and not speculate. Look, you have to ask yourself, 'Am I trying to preserve capital or make money?' You've got to ask those questions. If you put it in the bank, you'll make a little money. You won't make a lot, but you're not going to lose it."