There has been a wide selection of famous people from the Claremore area in Oklahoma ranging from actors and athletes, politicians and businessmen, to singers and entertainers, as well as the astronaut Stuart Roosa. Among the most well known names are football player Levy Adcock, former US Congressman Brad Carson, singers Patti Page and Garth Brooks, along with well known philanthropist Helen Walton, the wife of Sam Walton who founded Wal-Mart. However, Claremore’s most famous ‘son’ is without doubt, the legendary Will Rogers, who was one of the world’s most famous entertainer and celebrity status in the twenties and thirties. He was an accomplished all round entertainer, with talents ranging from American Cowboy to social commentator and many other fields in between!
William Penn Adair Rogers was born on the 4th of November 1879 to a prominent Cherokee Nation family in Oklahoma’s Indian Territory. The Dog Iron Ranch in Indian Territory, near present-day Oologah, Oklahoma is still standing today and is a popular destination for many visitors to the area who want to pay homage to Oklahoma’s favorite son as he was affectionately know. His parents were both part Cherokee and Will – the youngest of their eight children – was named after the great Cherokee leader Col. William Penn Adair. Will’s mother died when he was eleven and five of his eight siblings died in childhood, however it was his somewhat strained relationship with his father than drove him to try different ventures, most of which produced little or no success for him until he found his calling, starting his show business career as a trick roper in “Texas Jack’s Wild West Circus.
After, beginning his career as an entertainer on the Vaudeville circuit in the early 1920’s, this in turn led to his success with the Ziegfeld Follies – these were a series of elaborate theatrical productions performed on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931 – which lead him into a even more successful movie career. He became one of Hollywood’s highest paid movie stars and throughout his life he made 50 silent movies and 21 “talkies.” However, it was his popular syndicate newspaper column and social commentary delivered during his radio appearances with just the right balance of humor and passion, that really brought him onto the national and world stages. These earthy anecdotes delivered in a folksy style enabled him to poke fun at everyone from gangsters to politicians, as well as controversial subjects like prohibition and government programs, without causing offence, inducing adoration from both national and international audiences.
One of Will Rogers’s greatest passions was aviation and he was one of the leading Crusaders for expansion in this field as well as sharing accounts of his worldwide travels with every day Americans however it was his zeal for flying that ultimately led to his untimely death in 1935 when he died in a plane crash in Alaska. The small airplane he was travelling in with aviator Wiley Post crashed and killed them both. He was the leading political wit of the Progressive Era, and was the top-paid Hollywood movie star at the time. Rogers died in 1935 with aviator Wiley Post, when their small airplane crashed in Alaska.