Today Google is celebrating the contributions of Oklahoma born Cherokee actor and well-known Hollywood cowboy Will Rogers on the Google.com landing page with a Google Doodle.
Rogers — born in November of 1879 on the Dog Iron Ranch, near Oologah, Oklahoma — was a world-famous actor who had made over 70 films in Hollywood, 48 of which were silent films. Unbeknownst to many, Rogers was also a news contributor with 4,000 nationally syndicated news columns he had written over the course of his life.
Seeking to find a way to earn a living, Rogers left his home and traveled with a friend to Argentina to work as hired gauchos, to which he found little success. Rogers then sailed to South Africa and then met a man Texas Jack. Rogers performed as a cowboy trick roper in "Texas Jack's Wild West Circus." Rogers then quit the circus and moved to Australia to join the Wirth Brothers Circus.
In 1904, Rogers returned to the U.S. and began performing in Colonel Mulhall’s Wild West Show.
A rare act of fate
On April 27, 1905, the popularity of Colonel Mulhall’s Wild West Show had grown in popularity and made its way to Madison Square Garden. In a twist of complete fate, (some details vary as to the exact way the animal escaped) but a steer broke loose from the show and began to charge into the audience. Rogers literally saved the crowd from serious harm when he roped the steer stopping it from going forward.
The act by rogers saved the day and made its way onto national newspapers the following day. Willie Hammerstein saw the news and hired Rogers to work on the Victoria Roof with his pony 50 weeks a year.
Success continued for Rogers, who then signed with the popular Ziegfield Follies on Broadway, which President Woodrow Wilson had attended. He made his first silent film in 1918 titled Laughing Bill Hyde. He made 48 silent movies, then made his first talking film They Had to See Paris in 1929. He would go on to create 71 films in his lifetime.
The well-known Oscar’s mix-up
In 1934, Rogers had hosted the awards and announced the Best Directors category. During Roger’s announcement, he stated, “Come up and get it, Frank.” Frank Capra, the director for Lady For a Day mistakenly thought he had won, and rushed to the stage. The real winner was Frank Lloyd, who had directed Calvacade.
Rogers made a joke and invited the other nominated director on stage as well.
The legacy of Will Rogers is known all over the world. Today there is a statue of Will Rogers in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol. Rogers had agreed to the statue before his death, with the condition his statue would be “facing the House Chamber so that he could keep an eye on Congress.”
There are also a multitude of schools and landmarks named after Will Rogers
In 1935, as an advocate for the aviation industry, and after becoming friends with Charles Lindbergh, Rogers traveled with an influential aviator, Wiley Post to survey a possible plane route to Russia. While in Alaska, the plane crashed during bad weather, killing both Rogers and Post.
Will Rogers was buried on August 21, 1935, in Glendale California, he was 55-years-old. Today would have been his 140th birthday.
For more information
Google Arts and Culture has also compiled remarks on the legacy of Will Rogers and asked Cherokee Nation Chief Hoskins Jr. on the impact of Rogers' life, titled "The Legacy of Will Rogers."