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Will Rogers Collection: Volume 1... American comedic legend Will Rogers is known for his hilarious one-liners and... more info $59.98was $59.98 Buy Now

Will Rogers Collection: Volume 2... Take a walk down memory lane with the four new-to-DVD comedies in the "Will... more info $59.98was $59.98 Buy Now

The Ford At Fox Collection: John Ford's... "The Ford At Fox Collection: John Ford's American Comedies" is a hilarious... more info $49.98was $49.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: William Penn Adair Rogers Died: August 15, 1935
Born: November 4, 1879 Cause of Death: airplane crash
Birth Place: Indian Territory, Oklahoma, USA Profession: actor, vaudevillian, circus performer, politician, lecturer, columnist, cowboy, writer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A folksy humorist and political pundit whose homespun philosophy and irreverent wit struck a deep nerve in the public consciousness, Will Rogers became one of the most beloved performers in the nation on radio, film and the stage. Rogers first rose to stardom in Wild West shows and on the Broadway stage with the Ziegfeld Follies, where he showcased his exceptional lariat and horse riding skills while delivering humorous monologues about the day's headlines. Because of his immense popularity in New York, Hollywood naturally came calling and Rogers moved to the West Coast to start a film career. Though he made 48 films during the silent era, Rogers was unable to fully project the folky charm he easily conveyed in his monologues. He left the film business in 1927 for a short time and focused on world travel, becoming an avid advocate of commercial air service, which he expressed in his daily newspaper column and later on his popular radio show. Rogers returned to films in the sound era and found great success basically playing variations of himself in comedies like "They Had to See Paris" (1929), "A Connecticut Yankee" (1931), "The State Fair" (1933) and "Doctor Bull" (1934). But his love of aviation...

A folksy humorist and political pundit whose homespun philosophy and irreverent wit struck a deep nerve in the public consciousness, Will Rogers became one of the most beloved performers in the nation on radio, film and the stage. Rogers first rose to stardom in Wild West shows and on the Broadway stage with the Ziegfeld Follies, where he showcased his exceptional lariat and horse riding skills while delivering humorous monologues about the day's headlines. Because of his immense popularity in New York, Hollywood naturally came calling and Rogers moved to the West Coast to start a film career. Though he made 48 films during the silent era, Rogers was unable to fully project the folky charm he easily conveyed in his monologues. He left the film business in 1927 for a short time and focused on world travel, becoming an avid advocate of commercial air service, which he expressed in his daily newspaper column and later on his popular radio show. Rogers returned to films in the sound era and found great success basically playing variations of himself in comedies like "They Had to See Paris" (1929), "A Connecticut Yankee" (1931), "The State Fair" (1933) and "Doctor Bull" (1934). But his love of aviation led to Rogers' untimely death in an airplane accident in Alaska in 1935, leaving a country bereft and without its voice of small-town individualism in opposition to big business, mechanization, politicians and hypocrisy.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Doubting Thomas (1935) Thomas Brown
3.
 The County Chairman (1935) Jim Hackler
4.
 Steamboat Round the Bend (1935) Doctor John Pearly
5.
 Life Begins at 40 (1935) Kenesaw H. Clark
6.
 In Old Kentucky (1935) Steve Tapley
7.
 David Harum (1934) David Harum
8.
 Judge Priest (1934) Judge [William Pitman] Priest
9.
 Handy Andy (1934) Andrew Yates
10.
 Mr. Skitch (1933) Mr. [Ira] Skitch
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Clairemore, Oklahoma; called it his "home town"
:
Sold cows from his cattle ranch for $7,000 and with friend set off for Argentina but instead traveled to New Orleans, New York, England and Rio (where he learned new rope techniques)
:
Made debut in a Johanesburg, South Africa Wild West Show with a roping and horse riding act during the Boer War
:
Went to Australia; joined Wirth shows there and traveled to Japan, China, and returned to San Francisco
1905:
Legend has it that Rogers was playing with the Wild West Show in New York when an animal got loose and Rogers roped it, capturing the public's attention; hired to perform on Hammerstein's roof
:
Performed in vaudeville where he first spoke to the audience during his lassoing act to explain what he was about to attempt
1912:
Entered musical comedy
1917:
First starred with the Ziegfeld Follies
1918:
Went to Hollywood; made film debut in short, "Laughing Bill Hyde"
1924:
After making several silent films for Samuel Goldwyn and three others which he produced, wrote and directed (and which bankrupted him), starred in several Hal Roach two-reel comedies and then returned to the "Follies" on Broadway
1927:
Filmed "Tiptoes" in England
1929:
Made first talking feature film, "They Had to See Paris"
1929:
Signed to long-term contract by Fox
:
Wrote for various magazines and newspapers and contributed a daily syndicated column and a weekly article of comment to the "New York Times"
1928:
Was in a plane accident in Las Vegas while on route to the Republican National Convention (June)
1935:
Killed when the new motor of the Arctic sky cruiser piloted by aviator Wiley Post (who had twice flown around the globe--once alone) faltered and caused the plane to fall fifty feet head-on into a river bank; the two had left Fairbanks under poor weather conditions and had briefly sat out fog on Harding Lake before resuming trip to Point Barrow Alaska, on route to Siberia and then Moscow
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Willow Hassell School: Neosho , Missouri -
Kemper Military Academy: Booneville , Mississippi -

Notes

Rogers jokingly suggested his own epitaph for his tombstone: "I joked about every prominent man in my lifetime, but I never met one I didn't like."--quoted in "New York Times" obituary, August 17, 1935

"Will Rogers was an American institution--a mixture of Norman Rockwell and Eleanor Roosevelt who told jokes about people and politics and did rope tricks. He represented horse sense, conformist nonconformity, rural virtues, wry humor and uncommon decency. He was to the horses that grazed what Damon Runyon was to the horses that raced."--Clive Barnes review of "Will Rogers Follies" ("New York Post," May 2, 1991)

"Will Rogers had what it takes to tickle the national funny bone. His wry countenance, with its occasionally wistful expression, was comical to see, and his consciously cultivated drawl lent a rustic savor to his sophisticated quips. Most important of all, he had the knack of translating into trenchant phrases the inchoate thoughts of masses of 'average' Americans.

"He razzed Congress unmercifully, twitted Presidents and Kings, kidded the American public for falling for the blandishments of European borrowers, and he echoed the generally held impression that politicians should do more and talk less"--"New York Times" obituary, August 17, 1935

Director Frank Borzage commented that Rogers's great quality "was his own ability to make audiences forget that he was a comedian. This quality of his was very apparent in the scenes where Rogers was called upon to portray the simple, human emotions that touch the very soul of mankind. The sincerity and conviction with which he did them is what might be expected of a great tragedian. Audiences forget Rogers the wisecracker and think of him as a human being torn with emotion." (quoted in "The Great Movie Comedians" by Leonard Maltin, 1978)

Rogers, in discussing his slight Cherokee heritage, quipped that his ancestors had not come over in the Mayflower; they had "met the boat."--("New York Times" obituary, August 17, 1935)

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Betty Blake. Married in 1908; also from Oolagah.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Will Rogers Jr. Actor, politician. Born on October 20, 1911 in NYC; former Oklahoma State Senator; starred in the 1952 film biography, "The Story of Will Rogers" and played his father in "Look for the Silver Lining" (1949) and "The Eddie Cantor Story" (1953); committed suicide on July 10, 1993 at age 81.
daughter:
Mary Rogers. Born in 1913; died in 1989.
son:
James Rogers. Actor, rancher. Born in 1915; as a child appeared with father in silent film, "Doubling for Romeo" (1921); had a brief career in films during the 1940s; died in April 2000.
son:
Fred Rogers. Born c. 1917; died in 1920 of diptheria at age two.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Rogerisms"
"The Cowboy Philosopher on Prohibition, 1919"
"The Cowboy Philosopher on the Peace Conference"
"What We Laugh At, 1920"
"Illiterate Digest"
"Will Rogers in Hollywood" Crown
"Will ROgers, Performer: An Illustrated Biography with a Filmography" McFarland
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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