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Image: Photo of Will Rogers

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers 

The Life and Legacy Of Will Rogers

 

Image: Portrait of Will Rogers by Charles Banks Wilson. Commissioned by the Oklahoma State Legislature in 1963, the portrait hangs on the 4th floor of the capitol.

Image source:https://arts.ok.gov/Art_at_the_Capitol/Capitol_Collection.php?c=cac&awid=52 

William Penn Adair Rogers was an American cowboy, vaudeville performer, stage and motion picture actor,newspaper columnist, social commentator and humorist from Oklahoma.

 

 

Image:Photo of the main house at Dog Iron Ranch, the birthplace of Will Rogers

Image source:https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1967850 

Rogers was born on his parents' ranch in the Cherokee Nation of Indian Territory, near present-day Oologah, Oklahoma. Both his parents were of mixed-race and Cherokee ancestry, and identified as Cherokee.

Image:photo of Will Rogers with his wife Betty, 1928 ca.

Image caption:Will Rogers with his wife Betty, 1928 ca.

Image source:http://www.willrogersranchfoundation.org/will-rogers.html

In 1900, while still living at his parents’ ranch, Rogers met Betty Blake at her sister’s home in Oollagah, Oklahoma.  The young couple’s shared sense of humor and love of music fostered a friendship that gradually became a romance.

Image: Photo of young Will Rogers with lasso

mage source:https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2851152

Will worked at his parents’ ranch  until 1901, when he was 22 years old.  In that year, he left home and eventually arrived in South Africa, where  he was hired as a trick roper  in "Texas Jack's Wild West Circus."

 

Image: photo of Will Rogers on stage

Image source:http://tulsaworld.com/app/willrogers/about.htm

From South Africa, Rogers went to Australia, where he joined the Wirth Brothers Circus, and continued to perform as a rider and trick roper. During his travels, Will and Betty corresponded, keeping in touch by frequently exchanging affectionate letters and postcards. In 1904, Will returned to the United States, appeared at the St. Louis World's Fair, and for the next decade, told jokes and  performed rope tricks on stage in New York City’s vaudeville theaters.

Image: photo of Will and Betty Rogers at train station

Image source:https://www.voicesofoklahoma.com/interview/meyer-coke

In 1906, Will proposed to Betty, but she, doubtful about a life in show business, refused him. A year and a half later, he proposed again, this time promising that they could settle down on a ranch in Oklahoma after a final tour. The couple married on November 25, 1908, in a simple ceremony at her family home.

 

 

Image:Program from the 1927 Ziegfeld Follies

Image source: Will Rogers Courtship and CorrespondenceBy Reba Collins

In the fall of 1915, Rogers began to appear in Florenz Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic, a variety revue that began at midnight in the night club of Ziegfeld's New Amsterdam Theatre..

Image:Photo of Will Rogers with a group of Ziegfeld Follies girls

Image caption:Will Rogers with a bevy of Ziegfeld Follies girls

Image source: https://www.willrogers.com/the-man

 

Image:photo of Will Rogers on stage with lasso

Dressed in his cowboy outfit and twirling a lasso, Will began his act at the Follies each night by saying "Well, I ain't got anything funny to say. All I know is what I read in the papers."

Image source:https://newsok.com/gallery/6031264/will-rogers

 

 

Image source: Book cover: Will Rogers Says edited by Reba Collins 

Will’s folksy anecdotes and easy-going style allowed him to poke fun at prohibition, Congress, government policy, politicians, and the foibles of human nature in a way that audiences found amusing.

Image: photo of Will and Betty Rogers and their children

Image caption:Will married Betty at age 29. He always said, A growing career became a booming success with the warmth and wisdom of a loving, advising, and inspiring wife.

Image source: https://www.willrogers.com/the-man

Will’s popularity in vaudeville led to a career in films, and in 1919, he moved his family to California and bought a ranch in the Santa Monica hills.

Image: Movie Poster for "A Connecticut Yankee" starring Will Rogers

Image source: http://claremore.org/index.php/event/will-rogers-movie-night-2/

Rogers made numerous silent movies, including the classic “Ropin’ Fool.”  With the arrival of sound in 1929, he became a top star. One of his most popular roles was in the first talking version of Mark Twain's novel “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.”

 

Image: Photo of Will Rogers typing

Image source:http://www.willrogersranchfoundation.org/will-rogers.html

Will ‘s popularity on the lecture circuit and in print led inevitably to work in radio, with Will broadcasting his newspaper pieces from 1929 to 1935.

 

 

Image:photo of Will Rogers at Columbia Broadcasting

Image source:http://www.willrogersranchfoundation.org/will-rogers.html 

Will ‘s popularity on the lecture circuit and in print led inevitably to work in radio, with Will broadcasting his newspaper pieces from 1929 to 1935.

Image:Portrait of Will Rogers on the cover of "What's on the Air?" magazine in March 1930

Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/448108231643820251

 In his radio broadcasts, Will exhibited an easy-going, rambling style of political humor that made his show one of the top radio programs in the country.

 

Image:Photo of Will Rogers and Wiley Post

Image caption:Will Rogers and Wiley Post with the Lockheed Model 9E Orion hybrid at Renton, Washington.

Image source: https://www.thisdayinaviation.com/15-august-1935

In 1935, Will Rogers died in an air crash at Point Barrow, Alaska while flying with his friend Wiley Post on a trip to survey air routes  from the United States  to the Soviet Union.  

Image:Photo of the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma

Image caption:The Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma

Image source: https://www.willrogers.com/

Will Rogers is buried at the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma. He is remembered as the originator of an easy-going, homespun style of political humor and the representative example of the common man; a self-made man who believed in America, in progress and in the American Dream. 

 

Books by or about Will Rogers In the UCO Archives Collection

Will Rogers says: Favorite quotations selected by the Will Rogers Memorial staff  by Reba Neighbors Collins

 Rogers-isms: The Cowboy Philosopher on Prohibition. Edited by  Joseph A. Stout

Letters Of A Self-Made Diplomat To His President by Will Rogers. Edited by Joseph A. Stout

There's Not A Bathing Suit In Russia and Other Bare Facts by Will Rogers

Ether and Me, or Just Relax by Will Rogers 

More Books by or About Will Rogers

Autobiography by Will Rogers. Edited by Donald Day

The Papers of Will Rogers: The Early Years by Will Rogers. Edited by Steven K. Gragert and M. Jane Johansson

Papers of Will Rogers : Wild West and Vaudeville by Will Rogers. Edited by Steven K. Gragert and M. Jane Johansson

 The Papers of Will Rogers: From Broadway to the National Stage Edited by Steven K. Gragert and M. Jane Johansson

The Papers of Will Rogers: The Final Years Edited by Steven K. Gragert and M. Jane Johansson

Will Rogers and Wiley Post in Alaska: The Crash Felt ‘Round the World by Reba Neighbors Collins

Additional Books by or about Will Rogers

Will Rogers, his life and times by Richard M Ketchum

Will Rogers, his wife's story by Betty Blake Rogers

Willl Rogers, courtship and correspondence, 1900-1915 by Will Rogers. Edited by Reba Neighbors Collins

Never met a man I didn't like: the life and writings of Will Rogers by Joseph H Carter

Will Rogers: A Biography  by Ben Yagoda

Will Rogers, ambassador of good will, prince of wit and wisdom by  P. J O'Brien (Patrick Joseph)

Rogers-isms: The Cowboy Philosopher on the Peace Conference. Edited by Joseph A. Stout

More Books by or About Will Rogers

American original : a life of Will Rogers by Ray Robinson

Will Rogers, the Cherokee Kid by David Randolph Milsten

Daily Telegrams by Will Rogers

Will Rogers: Oklahoma’s Gift to America by C. W. “Dub” West

This is not a comprehensive list.  For more materials relating to Will Rogers please visit the UCO Archives