Wayne Rogers Net Worth
From Actor to Investor
According to various sources, former actor Wayne Rogers (who died on December 31, 2015, at age 82) built a net worth of approximately $75 million. It is noteworthy in several respects.
First, he was an exception to the general rule that actors, athletes, and other entertainers are notoriously spendthrift and careless with money. (Read our article on where the wealth is.) His estimated net worth was, by contrast, far in excess of his lifetime earnings as an actor.
Second, he built his net worth primarily through fields of endeavor completely unrelated to the entertainment industry, unlike most other former entertainers who managed to accumulate significant wealth.
Rogers regularly appeared as a commentator on the Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network. He also periodically shared his views on the markets, investing and politics in various financial publications, such as Barron's.
Rogers acknowledged the value of the name recognition that his acting career built for him, and how it opened doors for his investment firm. His death thus places the future of that firm in doubt.
Sources of His Wealth
His principal line of work, since his acting career faded in the 1980s, was his investment strategy firm, Wayne M. Rogers & Co. His firm, founded in 1971, had an initial focus on providing business management services to other Hollywood personalities. Rogers' interest in this work went back to his early days in acting when he became a friend and roommate of fellow actor Peter Falk, who was naive about money matters and had lost a large sum at the hands of a dishonest business manager. While starring in M*A*S*H, Rogers doubled as investment advisor to Falk and James Caan, among others.
Moreover, Rogers was not merely a passive investor. Instead, he became actively involved in the management of companies in which he invested, with an eye towards improving profitability and unlocking hidden values.
While still active in acting, he became a real estate investor. Rogers recounted how, while a member of the cast of M*A*S*H, he made a point of getting friendly with Lew Wolff, a successful real estate developer who, at the time, was the head of real estate for 20th Century Fox Studios, where the show was filmed. As someone very adept at learning his lines quickly, Rogers had ample free time between shoots and spent much of it in investment discussions with that executive. His subsequent forays into real estate development included both residential and commercial projects in California, Arizona, Utah, and Florida.
Rogers became chairman and CEO of Stop-N-Save, a convenience store chain in the southeast.
In 1999, he was part of an investor group that bought Kleinfeld Bridal, a designer, maker, and seller of wedding dresses in New York, a company for which he had national expansion plans as chairman.
Wayne Rogers also sat on various corporate boards, particularly Vishay Intertechnology, an NYSE-listed corporation. His personal shareholdings in that company alone were worth about $1.4 million.
He founded two banks in California, eventually selling one and continued to have an active hand in managing the other.
In 1977 he co-founded a Mississippi River barge company, Delta Pacific Transportation. He eventually sold the company's 25 barges for scrap, earning $2 million.
When asked for a hot investment tip by Geoff Williams of WalletPop in 2010, Rogers surprised his interviewer with this conservative advice about what to do with $500 or $5,000 or $10,000:
"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."
It echoes our discussion of conservative, risk-averse investing strategies pursued by Wall Street pros for their portfolios.
Principal Sources: waynerogers.webs.com; "WalletPop interviews Wayne Rogers, M*A*S*H star, now a financial guru," dailyfinance.com, January 13, 2010; "Trapper John, CEO," Inc. Magazine, April 2011.