Family celebrates Will Rogers' 125th birthday

Wednesday, November 3rd 2004, 5:16 pm
By: News On 6

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) -- More than 125 family members from around the country gathered this week to celebrate the 125th birthday of Oklahoma humorist Will Rogers.

Rogers was born Nov. 4, 1879 at Oologah in what was then Indian Territory. He died with Oklahoma pilot Wiley Post in an Alaskan airplane crash in 1935.

Ceremonies honored Rogers at his Oologah birthplace and at the nearby Will Rogers Memorial at Claremore.

The Claremore post office offered a pictorial stamp cancellation Thursday and planned to unveil a mural. A special stamp cancellation event also was at Oologah.

Also, a new gallery was opened at the memorial museum on Wednesday to display the Jo Mora dioramas created in the 1940s.

The dioramas, which were in various locations during the rejuvenation of the museum, will be in Gallery 9 with several additional framed items and a video, said Michelle Lefebvre-Carter, Will Rogers Memorial Commission executive director.

"Jo Mora gained national renown for his commissioned work of Will Rogers dioramas," she said. "He was consistently listed in Who's Who in America during his lifetime."

Rogers was part Cherokee Indian who grew up with a special knack for rodeo tricks, riding horses and twirling ropes.

He joined a wild west show and was billed as "The Cherokee Kid."

Rogers also appeared in the famed Ziegfeld Follies and later moved to California where he appeared in several motion pictures.

Although he wrote from a non-partisan point of view, he once remarked: "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."

Politics and politicians were favorite targets. "I don't make jokes," said Rogers. "I just watch the government and report the facts."

And, "It's easy being a humorist when you've got the whole government working for you."

Rogers was an supporter of aviation and was on a polar flight with Post when their plane crashed in August 1935.

Rogers' body was moved to the Claremore memorial in 1944.