Rogers, Will

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Rogers, Will

Will Rogers (William Penn Adair Rogers), 1879–1935, American humorist, b. Oolagah, Indian Territory (now in Oklahoma). In his youth he worked as a cowboy in Oklahoma, and after traveling over the world, he returned to the United States and worked in vaudeville as a cowboy rope-twirler, joking casually with the audience. He was an immediate success when he joined the Ziegfeld Follies in 1915. Rogers gained a wide audience, starring in more than 70 motion pictures, writing six books, appearing on dozens of radio broadcasts, and writing a popular syndicated newspaper column. His salty comments on the political and social scene made the "cowboy philosopher" widely known. A constant booster of airplane travel, Rogers made several long airplane trips; he was killed with Wiley Post when their plane crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska.

See his autobiography (ed. by D. Day, 1949) and writings (1973); biography by R. D. White, Jr. (2011); D. R. Milsten, An Appreciation of Will Rogers (1976); P. C. Rollins, Will Rogers: A Bio-Bibliography (1984).

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