Not many people remember Will Rogers, but in the 1930's he was the most well known man in America -- more popular than Shirley Temple. He was a simple cowpoke who entertained people with his rope tricks and sly political observations. He also wrote a widely-read newspaper column and appeared on the raido every week. I suppose he is a lot
like Bill Cosby is today: beloved for his down-to-earth style of humor. But that "aww, shucks" attitude hid a brilliant mind. Furthermore, Will Rogers was more than just a comedian; he was a man of character. Throughout his life, he exhibited the qualities of humility, fairness, generosity, and loyalty witch make him a real American hero.
Will was born in Oklahoma and proud of it. The son of a rancher, he was a one quarter Cherokee and never missed an opportunity to brag about his Native American heritage. "My ancestors didn't come on the Mayflower," he used to joke, "but they met the boat." Will stayed true to his Cherokee roots; he went to an Indian school and had many Indian friends. Later he became active in Native-American issues and was a major spokesman for Native-American rights in the U.S. Above all,though, Will was a "regular guy." His shy grin, easy manner, and total absence of sham endeared to Americans of all backgrounds. He had no pretensions, and his pleasures were simple: he liked to ride horses, rope cattle, and read the papers. In fact he often said, "I only know what I read in the papers." In this way, he tried to show that he wasn't a Washington insider; he got his information out of the newspapers, just like regular folk. During the Depression, many people were worried about what was going on in Washington. When Will pointed out some politician who said one thing and did another, or criticized some program in Washington he didn't approve of, he'd disquise his criticism behind a joke so as not to offend. But Will would also get straight to the heart of the matter, letting the...
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