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Will Rogers: A Brief Biography

“An actor is a fellow that just has a little more monkey in him than the fellow that can’t act.” – Will Rogers



1879 William Penn Adair Rogers is born on his father’s ranch near Oologah, Indian Territory.
   
1898 Begins work as a cowboy on a ranch in Higgins, Texas.
   
1902 In December, joins Texas Jack’s American Circus and Wild West Show In South Africa as a bronco rider and lasso thrower. Billed as the “Cherokee Kid.”
   
1904 Joins Colonel Zach Mulhall’s Wild West Show as a fancy roper at the World’s Fair in St. Louis. In October, plays in a vaudeville bill at the Cleveland Theatre in Chicago.
   
1905 Receives considerable publicity for helping to rope a runaway bull that had run into stands at the Horse Fair in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Buck McKee becomes his partner, riding Will’s horse on stage.
   
1908 Will marries Betty Blake in Arkansas on November 25. They will have four children. Three of them survive to adulthood.
   
1915 Will takes his first airplane flight in Atlantic City.
   
1916 He gives his first presidential performance to Woodrow Wilson in May. In July, Will joins the Ziegfeld Follies as a comedian and emcee.
   
1918 Will makes his first motion picture, Laughing Bill Hyde.
   
1919 Moves the family to California to start a silent film contract with Goldwyn Studio.
   
1922 He stars in and produces his own motion pictures, as well as begins a series of syndicated weekly articles for the McNaught Syndicate.
   
1925 Travels all over United States on a lecture tour.
   
1926 Elected honorary mayor of Beverly Hills, California.
   
1929 Will makes his first sound picture for Fox Film Corporation. He will star in 21 films for them from 1929-1935.
   
1930 Does a series of radio broadcasts for E. R. Squibb and Sons.
   
1931 Travels to Nicaragua to benefit earthquake and fire victims and London to observe disarmament conference.
   
1933 Will Rogers is the highest paid film star in Hollywood. His famous talks on the Gulf Oil radio broadcasts reach millions of listeners. Will and Betty celebrate their silver anniversary.
   
1935 August 15, Will Rogers is killed with his friend Wiley Post in an airplane crash near Point Barrow, Alaska.
   
  “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 proud of that I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved. “And when you come to my grave you will probably find me sitting there proudly reading it.”



Will Rogers Resources
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Will Rogers Museum
Ranch Foundation
State Park

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