“All I know is what I read in the papers.”
“All I know is what I read in the papers,” became one of Will Rogers’ trademark quips. And Will used the newspapers to reach millions of Americans. His witty and profound observations in his regular newspaper columns made Will Rogers a leading journalist of the early twentieth century.
Will Rogers had two of the most popular newspaper columns throughout the 1920s and 30s.
His daily and weekly columns were syndicated in newspapers across the country.
Rogers travelled with his typewriter and submitted his columns by telegram.
His columns were so popular that Baltimore Sun writer H. L. Mencken said, "I consider him the most dangerous writer alive today."
He put two million words in print during his lifetime.
Always a talker, Will Rogers was a natural for radio. His warm and entertaining voice needed only amplification, and radio provided just that. In a time when World War I and the Great Depression dominated the national scene, Will Rogers’ down-home charm proved irresistible to radio audiences.
Will first appeared on the radio in Pittsburgh in 1922 radio was in its infancy. He continued to appear on radio through the 1920s and made his first regularly scheduled broadcasts in the spring of 1930. His weekly Sunday evening show was among the top fifteen radio programs in the country.
Will had about 15 minutes to fill and had a hard time sticking to his time limit. He used an alarm clock to cut himself off; it became his trademark.
He usually brought in a studio audience so that he could tell if his comedy was working.
One of his few radio missteps was an impersonation he did of President Calvin Coolidge on air in 1928; Coolidge was not amused.
His most famous radio address was for the President's Organization on Unemployment Relief in 1931; becoming known as the "Bacon and Beans and Limousines," speech.
Around the campfires of yesteryear, cowboys spun yarns and shared laughs. Will Rogers perfected this storytelling art form and carried it to the stages of the world, delivering down-home humor.
Will debunked the mighty and reined in the weaknesses of government and follies of mankind. Humor was his tool.
His insight became the hallmark of his time and permeated generations that came later. Clear and concise, pointed but not barbed, Will Rogers made sense.
His lessons of life, visions of humanity and kind spirit were formed into wit, jokes and observations that bespoke great human dimensions. Humor and folksy observations by Will Rogers were prized by audiences around the world. He proved visionary, well informed and simply a smart philosopher. He told truth in simple words so that everyone could understand.
No media escaped Will Rogers’ masterful performances. Will became a pioneer in early silent pictures, starring in fifty. Sound was added to celluloid in 1929 and introduced Will’s voice to a new media for Fox Film Corporation, later to be known as Twentieth Century-Fox. In just five years, Will starred in twenty-one acclaimed motion pictures, winning top box office honors in 1934 and becoming Hollywood’s highest-paid actor.
Will worked for top studios, from Goldwyn to Fox, and legendary directors, from Hal Roach to John Ford. In rarefied salute to his stature and reputation, the name Will Rogers always was listed above the title of the movie.
Ahead of his time, in his 1922 production "The Ropin' Fool," Will used shoe polish to make his ropes show up better on film and slow motion footage so audiences could truly see his rope tricks in action.
Will was one of the few silent movie stars to successfully transition to talkies.
"In Old Kentucky" was Will's last movie, it and "Steamboat Round the Bend" were both released after his death.
Will made more than 70 films during his career and at the time of his death, he was the top male motion picture box office star.