William (Penn Adair) Rogers was born November 4, 1879 on a ranch in Indian Territory, in what is now Oklahoma. He rose from humble origins to become an internationally know author, humorist and star of vaudeville, motion pictures and radio. He is best remembered for his homespun humor, practical philosophy, generosity, and his statement: "I never met a man I didn't like."
Rogers was part Cherokee Indian, a fact in which he took great pride. He liked to say: "My ancestors may not of come over on the "Mayflower," but they met 'em at the boat." Rogers disliked school and in 1898 went to Texas to become a cowboy. He didn't like ranching much either, and in 1902 decided to seek his fortune in Argentina. Later that same year he traveled to South Africa and joined a wild west show as a trick roper. He also toured Australia and New Zealand with a circus company. Rogers returned to the United States in 1904. He began his vaudeville career as a trick roper and humorist in 1905, and appeared in the famous "Ziegfeld Follies of 1916."
Rogers gained much of his popularity as a lecturer on current events. He would chew gum and perform rope tricks while telling humorous anecdotes about business, politics and people. His stories were more than just funny. In his down-home way Rogers criticized the status quo, making serious comments about important social issues. He also wrote a syndicated newspaper column and six books, appeared in 50 silent pictures and 21 talking movies, and was popular on radio. Rogers' life was cut short in a plane crash near Point Barrow, Alaska in 1935.
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