Oologah, Indian Territory, Oklahoma
Place of Death
Barrow, Alaska Territory
Cause of Death
Profile Bio Text
William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) was an American cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, social commentator and motion picture actor. He was one of the world's best-known celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s.
Known as "Oklahoma's Favorite Son," Rogers was born to a prominent Cherokee Nation family in Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma). He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50 silent films and 21 "talkies"), wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns, and became a world-famous figure. By the mid-1930s, the American people adored Rogers. He was the leading political wit of the Progressive Era, and was the top-paid Hollywood movie star at the time. Rogers died in 1935 with aviator Wiley Post, when their small airplane crashed in Alaska.
Rogers' vaudeville rope act led to success in the Ziegfeld Follies, which in turn led to the first of his many movie contracts. His 1920s syndicated newspaper column and his radio appearances increased his visibility and popularity. Rogers crusaded for aviation expansion, and provided Americans with first-hand accounts of his world travels. His earthy anecdotes and folksy style allowed him to poke fun at gangsters, prohibition, politicians, government programs, and a host of other controversial topics in a way that was appreciated by a national audience, with no one offended. His aphorisms, couched in humorous terms, were widely quoted: "I am not a member of an organized political party. I am a Democrat." Another widely quoted Will Rogers comment was "I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."
Rogers even provided an epigram on his most famous epigram:
When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: "I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I dident [sic] like." I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved.
Will Rogers was born on the Dog Iron Ranch in Indian Territory, near present-day Oologah, Oklahoma. The house he was born in had been built in 1875 and was known as the "White House on the Verdigris River." His parents, Clement Vann Rogers (1839–1911) and Mary America Schrimsher (1838–1890), were both of part Cherokee ancestry, making Rogers himself 9/32 (just over 1/4) Cherokee. Rogers quipped that his ancestors did not come over on the Mayflower, but they "met the boat." His mother was quarter-Cherokee and a hereditary member of the Paint Clan. She died when Will was 11, and his father remarried less than two years after her death.
Rogers was the youngest of eight children. He was named for the Cherokee leader Col. William Penn Adair. Only three of his siblings, sisters Sallie Clementine, Maude Ethel, and May (Mary), survived into adulthood.
His father, Clement, was a leader within Cherokee society. A Cherokee judge, he was a Confederate veteran and served as a delegate to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention. Rogers County, Oklahoma is named in honor of Clement Rogers. He served several terms on the Cherokee Senate. Clement Rogers achieved financial success as a rancher and used his influence to help soften the negative effects of white acculturation on the tribe. Roach (1980) presents a sociological-psychological assessment of the relationship between Will and his father during the formative boyhood and teenage years. Clement had high expectations for his son and desired him to be more responsible and business-minded. Will was more easygoing and oriented toward the loving affection offered by his mother, Mary, rather than the harshness of his father. The personality clash increased after his mother's death, and young Will went from one venture to another with little success. Only after Will won acclaim in vaudeville did the rift begin to heal, but Clement's death in 1911 precluded a full reconciliation.
Rogers was a good student and an avid reader of The New York Times, but he dropped out after the 10th grade. He later claimed he was a poor student, saying that he "studied the Fourth Reader for ten years." He was much more interested in cowboys and horses, and learned to rope and use a lariat.
Full Name at Birth
William Penn Adair Rogers
Clement Vann Rogers
Mary America Schrimsher
Sallie Clementine Rogers, Maude Ethel Rogers, Mary Rogers
Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Irene Rich, Hattie McDaniel
Actor/Actress, Writer, Soundtrack
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William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) was an American cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, newspaper columnist, social commentator, and stage and motion picture actor. He became one of the most famous American media stars during the 1920s and 1930s.
Comedic actor Columnist Radio personality
Claim to Fame
Almost a Husband
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Deceased||Will Rogers passed away on 15th Aug 1935 aged 55.|||