When Will Rogers came home to visit, he never mentioned the celebrities he knew or the movies he made, said Doris “Coke” Meyer, his great niece. He wouldn’t talk about meeting the president.
“He’d ask us about our boyfriends, and he’d want to know how we were doing in school, stuff like that,” Coke says. “The way we knew him, he didn’t come across as such a big deal.”
If you grow up in Oklahoma, you grow up knowing all about Will Rogers. You know about the rope tricks and the black-and-white movies and the plane crash. You can quote him saying he never met a man he didn’t like. You know he’s as much a part of our history as the Land Run and the Oil Boom.
But maybe the way we know him, he doesn’t come across as such a big deal. Important to us, sure. But outside of Oklahoma?
“Don’t take him for granted,” Coke says. “He’s still one of the most famous people in the world.”
Monday would have been Rogers’ 140th birthday. He died Aug. 15, 1935 at age 55, in an Alaska airplane crash with aviator Wiley Post.
Click here to read more about Will Rogers, and see photos from his life and legacy below.