Saturday, June 11, 2016

Native American Biographies: Will Rogers: Cherokee

Will Rogers was born in Indian Territory, Oklahoma.  Both his parents were part Cherokee.  His father was a Cherokee judge and a Confederate veteran.  His mother died when he was young.  He was named for the Cherokee leader Colonel William Penn Adair.
Will Rogers has an interesting beginning as he tried to make his way in the world.  He traveled to South America to try his hand as a gaucho.  After going broke he traveled to South Africa where he got employment on a ranch.  He got his start in the entertainment business as a performer in the Texas Jack's Wild West Circus in Texas.  From there he went to Australia in the Wirth Brothers Circus.  In both instances he performed horse riding tricks and rope tricks.  From there he started in vaudeville in New York.  He got some notoriety after roping a bull that had gotten loss at Madison Square Garden.  He started out slow, mostly working after midnight shows.  At times he would add jokes to his lassoing tricks.  At other times he wouldn't.  By the time he made it to Ziegfeld Follies, he was telling many jokes based on what he read in the newspapers.  He had a regular spot as the "Ropin' Fool" and eventually morphed into the "Talkin' Fool."  Will Rogers then moved into pictures.  He starred in both silent movies and talking.  He played with many stars.  While traveling with Wiley Post, aviationist, exploring mail routes to Russia, he died in a plane crash.

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