Thursday, November 04, 2004

Today in history: 1879

Will Rogers Born:
Beloved American actor and humorist Will Rogers is born in "Indian Territory" (now the state of Oklahoma). As a child, he excelled at riding and rope tricks, and as a young man he traveled abroad with a Wild West show. Later, he appeared at fairs and vaudeville shows, sprinkling his act with his gentle, folksy humor.

In 1912, Rogers began appearing in musical comedies, and by 1917 he was starring in the Ziegfeld Follies. His folk wisdom won the hearts of the nation. He appeared in a few early films, but silent movies failed to do justice to his verbal talents.

With the dawn of talking pictures in the late 1920s, Rogers became a top box-office draw. His films included Happy Days (1929), A Connecticut Yankee (1929), and Ambassador Bill (1931). In 1930, William S. Paley persuaded Rogers to try radio. Although Rogers was skeptical of the medium and disliked the microphone, his 12-episode show-full of his trademark humor and thoughtful political observations-was a hit. Later, he returned to radio, hosting Gulf Headliners in the early 1930s.

Rogers declined a nomination as governor of Oklahoma but later served as mayor of Beverly Hills. In 1935, Rogers died in a plane crash while flying in Alaska with aviation pioneer Wiley Post.
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