Will Rogers' Last Child Interred at Memorial in Claremore

Friday, May 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

One of Oklahoma's last links to the legendary Will Rogers has been severed.

Roger's last surviving child, Jim Rogers died recently and will be interred Friday night at the family tomb in Claremore. He was 84 years-old.

His father was the highest paid entertainer of the 1930's - Will Rogers, movie actor, radio star, and the most widely published newspaper columnist of his day. But Rogers' son, Jim, lived a relatively quiet life, not shying from publicity, but not seeking it either.

The media often called on him to speak of his father. In a 1988 interview, Rogers said his father loved people and he thought that quality came across in his radio shows and movies and consequently, people loved him in return.

The young Rogers dabbled in Hollywood as a child actor he worked alongside his father, and as a young man carried a few roles on his own. His brother, Will Jr., was always better known, and played the part of his father in a feature film.

The family was raised in California where Rogers died April 28th. He and his wife, Astrea, had a ranch near Bakersfield, Calif., where they raised their three children.

After Astrea's death, Jim married Judy Braun August 31, 1995, at Colorado Springs. They operated a riding stable in California.

He never forgot his father's rural heritage. "He was country," Rogers once said in a interview. "He was rural. "He associated with rural people." He had the friendliness that you find in most rural societies."

As a witness to the early rise of his father's stardom, he realized what made the cowboy actor famous. "People didn't come to see him trick rope, they came to hear him talk," Rogers said. "They came to hear what he had to say."

Rogers was in Claremore for the annual Will Rogers Days Celebration last November.

In addition to Judy and Kim, survivors are daughter Bette Brandin of Chowchilla, Calif.; son Chuck Rogers of Cave Creek, Ariz., six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

As a salute to Jim Rogers, the Will Rogers Museum is showing two feature films that co-starred the son of Will Rogers and Noah Berry Jr. "Calaboose" and "Dudes Are Pretty People" will be shown on alternate days through May 20.