Photo: Will Rogers Memorial Museums
|Will Rogers was born in this Oolagah house in 1879.
Wit warmed by kindness
June 22, 2012
Will Rogers was a media master long before TV, the Internet and YouTube.
In the 1930s, the humorist entertained in the movies, on the radio and through his newspaper column.
Rogers was successful in so many areas of communication and entertainment, said Steven K. Gragert, director of the Will Rogers Memorial Museums in Claremore and Oologah.
“At the time of his death in an airplane crash in 1935, Rogers was the No. 1 male motion picture star in the country,” Gragert said.
“He was the most widely read syndicated newspaper columnist and he had the highest rated radio program. The man had influence.
“It’s a remarkable career that he had.”
Groups can learn more about Rogers by visiting Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore and Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch in Oologah.
“Rogers was one-quarter blood Cherokee and proud of it at a time when that was considered a stigma,” Gragert said. “He was able to lift a people in that regard.”
Andy Hogan, a Will Rogers interpreter, will greet groups at the memorial museum. After viewing a documentary on Rogers, groups can explore the museum’s 12 galleries.
Hogan strolls through the museum performing as Rogers, spinning his rope and answering questions.
On display are artifacts, photographs and manuscripts from Rogers’ career as a trick roper, vaudeville and Ziegfeld Follies performer, movie star, radio commentator, syndicated newspaper columnist and author.
A mini theater shows one of Rogers’ 71 movies continuously every day.
Operators should allow at least 90 minutes for a memorial visit.
Like the museum in Claremore, Rogers’ birth house in Oologah is open for tours every day of the year.
A group meal can be served in a barn or on the grounds.
The museums can tailor tours, Gragert said. For example, he could put together a program on Rogers or an aspect of his life.•
Will Rogers Memorial Museums
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Mail: 2465 112th Ave.
Holland, MI 49424
Fax: (616) 393-0085
Phone: 1-800-767-3489 between 8am - 5pm, EST.
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