MP3 Lance Brown - Will Rogers´ Greatest Hits: Wit & Wisdom of the Cowboy Philosopher- 2 CD Set
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25 MP3 Songs in this album (130:36) !
Related styles: SPOKEN WORD: Audiobook, KIDS/FAMILY: Educational
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The Cowboy Philosopher
He was King of All Mediaâdecades before the title was coined. To columnist Damon Runyon, he was Americaâs âmost complete human documentâ; to critic H. L. Mencken, alluding to Rogersâ national influence, âthe most dangerous man alive.â
Youngest of eight children, humorist William Penn Adair Rogers was born on November 4, 1879, on a ranch outside the settlement of Oologah, near the town of Claremore, Indian Territory, in present-day Oklahoma. His father, Clement Vann Rogers, had fought for the Confederacy under Cherokee
cavalry general Stand Watie and later took up ranching, rising to local prominence as a cattleman, banker, district judge, and legislative delegate to the state constitutional convention. His mother, Mary Schrimsher Rogers, whom the boy was said to take after, was the daughter of a Cherokee family that had , migrated west into the Territory. Tribal rolls list Will as being one-quarter Cherokee, and although his ancestry was predominantly European, throughout life he would identify more closely with his Native-American forebears.âMy ancestors didnât come over on the Mayflower,â he later quipped, âbut they met the boat.â
Ranch life provided the boy a key to fame and fortune: the lariat. Early lessons were provided by his fatherâs top hand, freed slave Dan Walker, with tree stumps and fence posts (and, occasionally, his motherâs turkeys) standing in for livestock. In 1893, on a trip with his father to Chicagoâs Columbian Exposition, he was inspired by the great Mexican roper Vicente Oropeza, performing in Buffalo Bill Codyâs Wild West extravaganza.
After the death of his mother when he was ten, Will was sent toâand, for disciplinary reasons, withdrawn fromâa series of schools in Oklahoma Territory and Missouri. He was a restless young cowboy, sometimes at odds with his authoritarian father. In 1898, with money borrowed from a sister, he decamped from Missouriâs Kemper Military School to find work as a ranch hand in Texas and attempting unsuccessfully, in that year of the Spanish War, to enlist, underaged, with Theodore Rooseveltâs Rough Riders. He returned to Oologah, where his father made him ranch foreman and staked him his own land and cattle. In 1902, Will sold his holdings and sailed with a friend to Argentina. Funds quickly dissipated, however, and, eager to see something of the world, he worked his way on a cattle boat to South Africa. After stint breaking horses for the British Army in the wake of the Anglo-Boer War, he found work as âThe Cherokee Kid: Fancy Lasso Artist and Rough Rider,â with Texas Jackâs Wild West Show. A jump to the Wirth Brothers Circus took him to New Zealand and Australia, where he continued to hone his roping skills, before returning to the States in 1904. Almost incidentally, the cowboy had become a journalist: amusing letters to his family, reporting on his antipodean adventures, were forwarded by his sister for printing in "The Claremore Progress."
Rogersâ roping had risen to world-class level, earning him a spot with Oklahoman Colonel Zack Mulhallâs Wild West Show (featuring the impresarioâs trick-riding daughter, Lucille, for whom the term âcowgirlâ was coined by the press). The troupe, including Rogersâ friend, future silent-film cowboy Tom Mix, appeared at the St. Louis Worldâs Fair, then at Madison Square Garden, where Rogers made headlines by roping a frantic steer that had bolted into the stands.
He left the show to form his own vaudeville act, touring England and Europe in 1906 and advancing steadily to become a top-liner. In 1908, after a desultory, eight-year courtship of correspondence and occasional meetings, he married Betty Blake of Rogers, Arkansas, with whom he raised four children: Will, Jr. (born 1911), Mary (1913), James (1915), and Freddie (1917; lost to diphtheria in 1920). Onstage, with Bettyâs encouragement, he increasingly interspersed his rope tricks with humorous, topical commentary: an innovation that won him a place in Broadway-showman Florenz Ziegfeldâs Follies in 1916. With Americaâs entry into the Great War came speaking engagements at important banquets and fundraisers, throwing Rogers in company with senators, congressmen, corporate leaders, film stars, and millionaires. Grinning, fiddling with his lariat, âAll I know is what I read in the papers,â he would begin, regaling (and frequently ribbing) roomfuls of the nationâs elite. And the elite loved it.
Rogersâ film career began in 1918 as the title character in Samuel Goldwynâs "Laughing Bill Hyde." In 1919, urged by his friends Eddie Cantor and W. C. Fields (who, like Rogers, turned his phenomenal dexterity, as a juggler, into a successful stage, radio, and film career), Will, Betty, and the children moved to Hollywood, where Rogers would star in fifty silent films and twenty-one talkies, becoming, for a time, Fox studioâs highest-paid performer.
Corporate greed, international diplomacy, the stock market, crime, movies, advertising, Prohibition: all were grist for the Rogers humor millâhis articles readily adaptable for book compilation, beginning with "The Cowboy Philosopher on the Peace Conference" and "The Cowboy Philosopher on Prohibition" (1919), and "The Illiterate Digest" (1923). In 1922 he made his first radio address, from Pittsburghâfirst step toward future network broadcasts to millions of Americansâand in December began a weekly column in "The New York Times" that won immediate popularity and wide syndication. Contracted by "The Saturday Evening Post," he filed articles from Europe (compiled into "Letters of a Self-Made Diplomat to His President" in 1926), then from the Soviet Union ("There Is Not a Bathing Suit in Russia and other Bare Facts," published the following year). At its peak, his daily Will Rogers Says column, begun in 1926, appeared in more than 500 newspapers nationwide. As Champion of the Little Guy and confidant of presidents, film stars, sports heroes, and royalty, the Oklahoman had, by 1935, become the best-known American humorist since Mark Twain.
Among Rogersâ famous friends Wiley Post, record-setting long-distance aviator and first solo pilot to circle the globe. Favoring planes to trains whenever possible (by 1935, the humorist had logged an estimated 500,000 passenger miles), Rogers eagerly accepted Postâs invitation to accompany him on a survey of a potential airmail-and-passenger route from the West Coast to Siberia. The pair set out from Seattle in early August in Postâs modified, single-engine Lockheed Orion-Explorer, a hybrid aircraft, retrofitted, against Lockheedâs recommendations, with oversized pontoons, giant gas tanks, and overladen with hunting and fishing gear. On August 15, out of trim and seriously nose heavy, the machine stalled on takeoff from Walakpi, Alaska, sixteen miles from Barrow, and crashed into the river. Both men died instantly. An Inuit eyewitness, Clair Okpeaha, ran most of the way to Barrow with the news, where an Army Signal Corps operator relayed the report to a shocked, worldwide public.
Never before had the death of a private citizen grieved so many Americans.
The humor of Will Rogers is rooted in the aw-shucks, down-home tradition of 19th-century American writers such as Seba Smith (âJack Downingâ), Charles Farrar Browne (âArtemus Wardâ), David R. Locke (âPertroleum V. Nasbyâ), and Mark Twain: topical commentary, delivered in Rogersâ case entirely without rancor and received by millions through a media network of stage, print, radio, and film his predecessors would have envied. Uncannily resonant with todayâs headlines, the homespun humor of Will Rogers weaves a resilient thread in the fabric of our culture.
His legacy lives on in more than fifty biographies; in the name of countless schools, airports, theaters, shopping centers, public parks, and philanthropies; on Broadway (where "The Will Rogers Follies" swept the Tony Awards in 1991); and in the memories of millions of visitors to the Will Rogers Memorialâhis final resting placeâin Claremore, Oklahoma. Through the giddy years of Prohibition and the Roaring Twentiesâeven in the Dust-Bowl depths of the Great DepressionâWill Rogersâ homey, commonsense wisdom and Everymanâs take on the American scene struck a chord that echoes to this day.
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