He was born in 1879 on a ranch in the Cherokee Nation in Oologah, Oklahoma although it was still a territory at the time. He learned how to use a rope as a tool to work cattle on the family ranch. Mr. Rogers' roping skills developed to the point that he was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the ability of throwing three lassos at once. 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.
|Young Will Rogers|
Will Rogers dropped out of school in the 10th grade to become a cowboy in a cattle drive. Regretting that he didn't finish school, he made sure he never stopped learning, reading, thinking and talking to smart people. Yet at the same time he was a star on Broadway and in the movies during the 1920s and 1930s, a popular radio star, the first big radio commentator, and he wrote more than 4,000 syndicated newspaper columns, also writing six books. He was the trusted friend and confidante of many people from ordinary peope to Presidents, Senators and Kings. During his life, he traveled around the world at least three times-- meeting all kinds of people, covering wars, talking about peace, and learning everything possible, he was a guest at the White House several times, and his opinions were sought by the leaders of the world.
But everything else aside he was a simple Oklahoma cowboy. "I never met a man I didn't like," was his credo of genuine love and respect for humanity and people everywhere. He gave much of his own money to victims of disaster, also raising thousands of dollars for the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
Throughout his life he enjoyed riding horseback, roping steers or playing polo. He'd scratch his head, grin, saying that there must be something wrong with anybody that didn't like a horse. He always thought of himself first as a member of the human race, then an American, then as a Cherokee Indian; then as a faithful husband and a father. He was a family man,very close to his wife, Betty, and their four children.
He also loved flying. On a flight to Alaska in 1935 with Wiley Post, their plane crashed killing both men.
In mourning, the world reflected on Will Rogers' words:
"If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."
"A fool and his money are soon elected."
"A remark generally hurts in proportion to its truth."
"Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don't have for something they don't need."
"Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even."
"An economist's guess is liable to be as good as anybody else's."
"Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do."
"Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what's going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?"
"Democrats never agree on anything, that's why they're Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans."
"Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" until you can find a rock."
"Diplomats are just as essential to starting a war as soldiers are for finishing it... You take diplomacy out of war, and the thing would fall flat in a week."
"Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke."
"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."
"The more you observe politics, the more you've got to admit that each party is worse than the other."
"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."
"Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it."
"We don't seem to be able to check crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business?"
"We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others."
Will Rogers Memorial Museums
It's facinating to me how little has changed in the last 75 years since he was killed in the airplane crash. The things that Will Rogers said then are as current today as they were then. People haven't changed, neither have politicians or the government. Politicians were crooked and incompetant as was the government in his day, and that's still true today. Yes it's true that there are good things too, as he recognized, but....