Will Rogers was born on 11/4/1879, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation in the territory that would later in 1907 become the State of Oklahoma, the 46th state in the Union. From these modest roots, he went on to become a national celebrity, the highest-paid Hollywood, actor, in the early 1930s, and a frequent guest of Presidents.
As a young man, he began his show-business career as a trick roper in traveling Wild West show. He used his roping skills to create a popular Vaudeville stage act that afforded him the opportunity to travel and meet a wide range of Americans. Soon, his roping skills became secondary to his witty and humorous commentary on people, politics, and current events. While performing with the Ziegfeld Follies in New York, Samuel Goldwyn discovered Rogers and offered him the title role in the silent film Laughing Bill Hyde (1918).
Eventually, Rogers relocated to LA to concentrate on his film career, appearing in 50 silent films and 21 talkies before his untimely death in 1935 in an airplane crash in Point Barrow Alaska. His contribution to the film Industry continues through the Will Rogers Institute, supporting medical research into pulmonary diseases, an evolution of its initial mission to support a convalescent home located in Saranac, New York for entertainers suffering from Tuberculosis. The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation provides financial support and counseling to workers from Theatrical Exhibition who are struggling with dislocation and crisis.
“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
– Will Rogers