WILL ROGERS Will Rogers was born November 4 in 1879 on a large ranch in the Cherokee Nation near what is now present day Oologah, Oklahoma. Will Rogers was taught be a freed slave how to use a lasso as a tool to work Texas Longhorn cattle on the family ranch. When he grew older, Will Rogers’ roping skills developed so good that he was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for throwing three lassos at once. It said that one rope caught the running horse’s neck, the other would hoop around the rider and the third swooped up under the horse to loop all four legs. Will Rogers’ lariat feats were recorded in the movie, “The Ropin’ Fool”.
His hard-earned skills won him jobs trick roping in wild west shows and on the vaudeville stages where he started telling small jokes. Before he knew it, his wise cracks and folksy observations became more prized by audiences than his expert roping. He became recognized as being a very informed and smart philosopher, telling the truth in very simple words so that everyone could understand. After his sophomore year, Will Rogers dropped out of school to become a cowboy in a cattle drive. He always regretted that he didn’t finish school, but he made sure that he never stopped learning and talking with smart people. Obviously his hard work paid off. Will Rogers was the star of Broadway and 71 movies of the 1920s and 1930s.
Besides that he was a popular broadcaster. He also wrote more than 4000 newspaper columns. During his lifetime, he traveled around the globe three times meeting people, covering wars, talking about peace and learning everything possible. He wrote six books and was the first big time radio commentator. He was a guest at the White House and his opinoins were sought by the leaders of the world.
“I never met a man i didn’t like,” was his credo of genuine love and respect for humanity and all people everywhere. He gave his own money to disaster victims and raised thousands for the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Will Rogers never met a man he didn’t like. He always enjoyed riding horseback, roping steers or playing polo. He always said there was something wrong with anybody that didn’t like a horse.
He always thought of himself as first a caring member of the human race, American, then a Cherokee Indian, a faithful husband and a father. Even though he was the top-paid star in Hollywood, he was a family man. He was very clos to his wife, Betty, and their four children. Will Rogers was married to Betty Blake on November 23, 1908. Rogers attended the Worlds Fair in St.
Louis Missouri in 1904. One of his old friends named Zach Mulhall hired him on as one of 600 trick riders for his new wild west show. which was to perform on the fairgrounds of the fair. Though the show didn’t go over good at the fair and was taken off before the fair was even over, Rogers got another job doing a wild west show at the fair. Rogers traveled all over the world to many different countries like Australia, Mexico, Germany, Argentina and many more. Rogers took his wife and kids with him on a few trips around the world but not on all of them.
In the spring of 1926, the popular magazine Saturday Evening Post sent him to Europe to write a series of columns as a “Self-Made Diplomat to His President.” While traveling most of the time with his family, Rogers was able to make appiontments with many of the greatest dignitaries of Europe, including the king of Spain, the Prince of Wales, and Benito Mussolini, then dictator of Italy. Will Rogers was one of the nations first and earliest supporters of aviation but on August 15 Post and Rogers left the city of Fairbanks for Barrow. As soon as they were airborne, the plane ran into one of the worst storms ever. After a few hours Post decided to land the plane in a lagoon. When they stepped out of the plane they were greeted by some seal hunters and they told him he was only about ten minutes flight to Barrow.
They got and their plane and left and no sooner had they taken off they experienced difficulties with the plane. First, the engine quit and then the nose fell off and they fell straight down to the lagoon. Both men were killed. Will Rogers was buried at the forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles on August 22, 1935. More than 50,000 people attended the funeral.
In 1944, Rogers and his son Fred’s remains were brought to Oklahoma. His wife Betty thought it only fitting that the old Indian Territory, which he loved so much throughout his life, be the place he spend eternity. A month late, she was buried beside him.