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The Story of Will Rogers

Lobby Card from the Film The Story of Will Rogers

Lobby Card from the Film The Story of Will Rogers (1952)

It has become a tradition for Martine and me to attend the annual outdoor screening each August to mark the anniversary of the star’s death in a 1935 Alaska airplane accident. This year, it was held last Friday. The event is co-sponsored by the Will Rogers Ranch Foundation, to which we belong, and the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation. This year, instead of screening a film starring Will Rogers, we got a film about Will, starring Will’s son, Will Jr., who is a dead-ringer for his father.

The Story of Will Rogers is an A-list film starring not only Will Jr., but Jane Wyman as Betty Rogers and a great cast of supporting actors, including James Gleason, Slim Pickens, Noah Beery Jr, and Mary Wickes.

As usual, the film was screened outdoors as soon as the sky darkened (around 8 pm). The audience sat around on either blankets or (like us) chairs that we brought from home with us.

I have always thought that Will Rogers was, in many ways, the ideal American. Not only did he have Cherokee blood from both his parents, but his sense of humor was completely non-partisan. Everyone got gored—and fairly, too!

Just to leave you with one of his thoughts: “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”

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