Wayne Rogers is 78

Posted: June 5, 2011 in Humorous Bits
Tags: , , , , ,

Beware the facts!

Occasionally the reality of other people’s lives puts your own life in cold perspective. I was leafing through the almanac yesterday (“The World Almanac and Book of Facts”, 2010 edition), as I’m inclined to do, when I stumbled upon the section which lists celebrities with their date and place of birth. Now the editors of the “number one reference work for facts” (so says Will Shortz) shy away from using the term Celebrity and opt for the more inclusive Noted Personalities. Who these people consider Noted Personalities is pretty interesting and would make for a fascinating discussion, but let’s shelf that for today and get to the meat of the matter.

What I found particularly intriquing was how old our celebrity – sorry, Noted Personalities – population is getting. Ooooo lookie here, Bridget Fonda is 47. And Ving Rhames is 52. Kelsey Grammer, 57. Vicki Lawrence, 62. (Mama is gettin’ old!) All of those were sobering in their own way, but when I stumbled upon Wayne Rogers I was thrown face first into the grinding reaper of reality.

Wayne Rogers, mostly known for his role as Trapper John McIntyre on the television series M*A*S*H, is 78. Let me repeat that, this time in bold for a more dramatic effect.

Wayne Rogers, mostly known for his role as Trapper John McIntyre on the television series M*A*S*H, is 78.

Seventy-freakin’-eight! I don’t know what I expected. (Frankly, I had no expectations since the very idea of Wayne Rogers wasn’t even a fleeting consideration as I flipped through the pages.) But when I saw his name, then the D.O.B. (April 7, 1933!), then did the math, then did a double-take to confirm my eyes were functioning properly, it hit hard. Similar to how I imagine a sledgehammer to the skull would feel.

Like most fans of M*A*S*H, whenever I think of Trapper John I conjure an image of a relatively youthful, curly-haired fella getting into hijinks with Alan Alda at the 4077th. What I don’t picture is some grandfather, possibly even some (shudder) great grandfather, distilling rotgut gin in an army tent and playing strip poker with freshly scrubbed nurses. I see a younger version of Will Ferrell in fatigues holding a martini glass and crackin’ wise. To think that man is now 78…I tell you, it’s very disturbing.


It doesn’t take an Einstein (who, incidentally, was only 76 when he died) to figure out why I find this disturbing. God bless Wayne Rogers and his elderly bad self. I hope he makes it to 100. This isn’t about him. No, what it’s really about is, of course, me. Good lord, I remember watching M*A*S*H while it was in first run. I remember Trapper and Hawkeye and Radar and Hot Lips frolic, fight and make me laugh each week. They were part of the Korean War, ancient history to me at the time. When I realize the Korean War ended less than 20 years before M*A*S*H debuted, I pause then tremble. Consider this: If a show like that aired today it would be about the Persian Gulf War. You see where I’m going? Starting to feel my pain?

Yes, all of this makes it kind of difficult to dismiss my own aging process, no matter how hard I try. Not that I’m looking older, mind you. (Insert guffaw or, if you’re a kind-hearted soul, a gentle affirmation.) It’s just that perhaps it’s time to understand crinkles around the eyes are more than a manifestation of character or suggestions of well-gained experience. Maybe they’re Mother Nature’s way of saying you don’t need a 78 year old Wayne Rogers to show you the truth. Maybe sometimes all you need is a mirror.
Well, not me. But those other people, the older looking ones.

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