Rogers was born in Oklahoma and was the eighth and final child whose father was a rancher and mother part Cherokee Indi
At a very early age, Rogers perfected the art of the lasso and roping. He had difficulty taking school very seriously. He eventually went to South Africa in the early 1900's where he made his show business debut in a wild west circus. In 1905, he performed his act in Madison Square Garden as a rough rider in a rodeo show. During the show, a steer got loose and went on a rampage towards the stands and Rogers, with his lasso talent, saved many people from serious injury and, needless to say, he received much publicity. He would soon take his talent to vaudeville where he performed both in the U.S. and abroad. In the meantime, he met the love of his life, Betty Blake. He often claimed "The day I roped Betty, I did the star performance of a lifetime."
Soon Will moved his efforts in to real acting. He appeared in "The Wall Street Girl" and then associated himself with the Ziegfeld Follies. During his roping act, Will would spout observations on the absurdities of pompous individuals and politicians. During that time, he made his film debut in "Laughing Bill Hyde." Soon, he would author two books including "The Cowboy Philosopher." He also began his fame as a writer having written columns for a syndicated newspaper and eventually began lecturing and performing his monologues. Many world leaders, heads of royalty, writers, and "the average man" were attracted to Rogers. He continued performances on Broadway for a short time until 1928 when he did his last Broadway gig in "Three Cheers" His popular role that drew sellout crowds was in "Ah, Wilderness" that received rave reviews. During his writing career, he wrote over 4000 columns and created his own talk show. He is remembered for his off the cuff quips and comments.
Rogers had many friends including a pilot by the name of Wiley Post. Post was a recognized aviator and in 1935, he was exploring flight routes from Seattle to Russia. Rogers decided to go with his friend and document his experiences thru his columns to his thousands of readers.
|Original funeral plan at Forest Lawn for Will Rogers|
The world was shocked at this sudden horrific news.
An estimated 100,000 people gathered to mourn his passing. Nearly 90 people a minute filed by his casket at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale (original instructions from Rogers service pictured) Persons from all walks of life were there and 400 policemen from Los Angeles directed the parking. His casket was banked with flowers that were designed with the American Flag. The casket sat near the entrance to the cemetery near the cemetery pond.
|Will Rogers service|
|Rogers memorial at Universal studios|
I will end with a quote from Rogers
"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 didn't like. I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved."
|Will Rogers grave|