Entertaining people was a natural talent for the gifted Will Rogers (1879-1935). Born William Penn Adair Rogers, he grew up on his family’s ranch in Cherokee Indian territory that has since become part of the state of Oklahoma. Will Rogers was the youngest of 8 children born to Clement Vann Rogers and Mary Schrimsher, who were both part Cherokee. Tragically only Will and three of his sisters survived until adulthood.
Because he enjoyed working with cattle, riding horses, and using his lasso, Rogers paid less and less attention to his studies as he grew. In the 10th grade he dropped out of school all together to become a cowboy. He used his exceptional personality, quick wit and lassoing talent to entertain audiences in while traveling through South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Later he performed at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis and New York City.
WILL ROGERS - READY FOR ACTION
Will Rogers venues began with a travelling show, then a circus, and the World Fair, then vaudeville acts in the United States, Canada and throughout Europe. In the early part of his Vaudeville career, Betty Blake caught his eye. They married in 1908 and together raised 3 sons and a daughter. Betty and Will Rogers had a loving, supportive relationship until separated by Will’s death.
As Will’s career progressed, he found that his humor was just as attractive to audiences as his roping. His jokes consisted of amusing, thoughtful observations of people. He loved to talk about politics, American society, and life in general. It was not long before Will Rogers was a well-known comedian and political commentator.
The popularity of his jokes soon led him to acting. In all Will Rogers performed in silent films, then 71 feature films, as well as Broadway productions. Will Rogers was voted the most popular male actor in Hollywood in 1934.
There seemed to be no limit to the popularity of Will Rogers. His political commentary was published through more than 4,000 syndicated columns, more than 2 million words, equal to 20 novels. These 600 newspapers reached an audience estimated at 40 million readers. Most people who are familiar with his work consider his comments to be just as relevant today as the day they were written.
WILL ROGERS -ENTERTAINER EXTRAORDINAIRE
Will Rogers also had a regular radio show, although the medium was very new at that time. His popular political commentary brought him an Oklahoma gubernatorial nomination (which he declined) and the title Honorary Mayor of Beverly Hills (1925). This elevated status put him in touch with major world leaders. He was invited to the White House by Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Roosevelt.
It was Roger's thirst for adventure that resulted in his early demise. In 1935, when he was just 55, Will Rogers died in a plane crash. He had been headed to Alaska for vacation with a famed pilot and close friend, Wiley Post. Will Rogers's wife, Betty built a memorial in his honor near their home in Oklahoma which was thoughtfullly dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt himself. Sadly, Betty Rogers died shortly thereafter, in 1938.
The Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection honors the memory of Will Rogers, a true American and an entertainer with boundless talent. It is because of this sentiment that the Collection is proud to have acquired and handsomely framed, in suede and burl walnut, an autographed photo of Will Rogers. In this candid photograph, displayed below, Will Rogers is pictured wearing casual attire and holding a polo stick at his California home.
The sepia-toned 8” x 10” photograph is boldly signed in the bottom right corner, across the cap, held in his left hand. There is a plaque inscribed Will Rogers 1879–1935 American Humorist, Actor, Writer and Lecturer “I Never Met A Man I Didn’t Like.”
RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX - PASSIONATE COLLECTOR OF HISTORICAL ARTIFACTS
This piece is just one of many historical American artifacts in the extensive Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection. If you are seeking a particular piece of Mr. Amyx's rare pieces, please use the form below to initiate a confidential conversation with Mr. Amyx.