Posts Tagged With: Wild West. Western Books

Will Rogers Born 134 years ago

On this day, the cowboy philosopher and humorist Will Rogers, one of the most beloved entertainers of the early 20th century, is born on a ranch in Cherokee Indian territory.

The son of a respected mixed-blood Cherokee couple, William Penn Adair Rogers grew up riding and roping on the plains of Oklahoma. An indifferent student, he earned only average grades in school, but he was by no means the ill-educated common man that he later liked to pretend. He was, in fact, highly literate and well read. In 1898, he left his family ranch to work as a Texas cowboy, and then traveled to Argentina where he spent a few months as a gaucho. But Rogers discovered his real talent when he joined Texas Jack’s Wild West show in 1902 as a trick roper and rider under the stage name “The Cherokee Kid.” For all his skill with ropes and horses, Rogers soon realized that audiences most enjoyed his impromptu jokes and witty remarks. Eventually, Rogers began to focus on making humorous comments on world events and created a popular vaudeville act with which he traveled the country.

In 1919, Rogers’ first book, The Peace Conference, was published. In the 1920s, he achieved national fame with a series of movie appearances, radio shows, lecture tours, magazine articles, and regular newspapers columns. Amazingly prolific, Rogers eventually wrote seven books, an autobiography, almost 3,000 short commentaries called “daily telegrams,” more than 1,000 newspaper articles, and 58 magazine articles. Rogers’ warm, folksy manner and penetrating wit were hugely popular during the Depression, and his concern for the welfare of average folks was genuine. He contributed frequent charitable performances in support of the victims of floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes worldwide.


Will Rogers, photograph taken before 1900


Hollywood discovered Rogers in 1918, as Samuel Goldwyn gave him the title role in Laughing Bill Hyde. A three-year contract with Goldwyn, at triple the Broadway salary, moved Rogers west. He bought a ranch in Santa Monica and set up his own production company. While Rogers enjoyed film acting, his appearances in silent movies suffered from the obvious restrictions of silence—not the strongest medium for him, having gained his fame as a commentator on stage. It helped somewhat that he wrote a good many of the title cards appearing in his films. In 1923, he began a one-year stint for Hal Roach and made 12 pictures. Among the films he made for Roach in 1924 were three directed by Rob Wagner: Two Wagons Both Covered, Going to Congress and Our Congressman. He made two other feature silents and a travelogue series in 1927, and did not return to the screen until his time in the ‘talkies‘ began in 1929.

He made 48 silent movies, but with the arrival of sound in 1929 he became a top star in that medium. His first sound film, They Had to See Paris (1929), finally gave him the chance to exercise his verbal magic. He played a homespun farmer (State Fair) in 1933, an old-fashioned doctor (Dr. Bull) in 1933, a small town banker (David Harum ) in 1934, and a rustic politician (Judge Priest) in 1934. He was also in County Chairman (1935), Steamboat ‘Round the Bend (1935), and In Old Kentucky (1935). His favorite director was John Ford.

Rogers appeared in 21 feature films alongside such noted performers as Lew Ayres, Billie Burke, Richard Cromwell, Jane Darwell, Andy Devine, Janet Gaynor, Rochelle Hudson, Boris Karloff, Myrna Loy, Joel McCrea, Hattie McDaniel, Ray Milland, Maureen O’Sullivan, ZaSu Pitts, Dick Powell, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Mickey Rooney, and Peggy Wood. He was directed three times by John Ford. He appeared in three films with his friend Stepin Fetchit (aka Lincoln T. Perry): David Harum (1934), Judge Priest (1934) and The County Chairman (1935).[15]

With his voice becoming increasingly familiar to audiences, he was able to basically play himself, without normal makeup, in each film, managing to ad-lib and even work in his familiar commentaries on politics at times. The clean moral tone of his films led to various public schools taking their classes, during the school day, to attend special showings of some of them. His most unusual role may have been in the first talking version of Mark Twain‘s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His popularity soared to new heights with films including Young As You Feel, Judge Priest, and Life Begins at 40 with Richard Cromwell and Rochelle Hudson.

On August 15, 1935, Rogers was on a flight to Asia with the famous pilot Wiley Post when the craft developed engine troubles and crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska. The crash killed both men. Rogers was only 55.

Categories: History, Western, Western Authors, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing the Code of the West

I am sharing the Code of the west that I live by o Matt Pizzolato’s Blog today. Stop by and see why I live by the Code of the West.

Although no written rules ever existed, the pioneers and settlers who went west found one common ground, how they lived their lives from day to day. With little or no laws in the west for a man to follow, they were forced to make their own set of guidelines, a code of the west, as it was first called in Zane Grey’s 1934 novel The Code of the West……..Read More at The Western Wordslinger.


Categories: Cowboy Code, Current Events, Rodeo, Western, Writing, Writing Technique | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Cowboy: A Genuine American Hero

In honoring the Cowboy, I had to ask #1 Best Selling author Steven Law to participate, and to my huge surprise he said yes, without skipping a beat. I would like to welcome Steven Law to my blog, and thank him for a riveting guest post to honor the National Day of the Cowboy. Welcome Steven.

When I was a kid growing up on our Iowa farm, I dreamed of being two things: a professional baseball player and a cowboy.  I didn’t know any professional baseball players, but I did know a few cowboys. My grandfather and father were in the cattle business, so they, technically, were a modern version of that cowboy persona. I helped them work and feed cattle, mend fences, work the hay fields, and spent many a Saturday at cattle auctions. That was “cowboyin’” our way.

Steven Law

The modern day cowboy is also associated with rodeo and roughstock riding. When I’m around those guys I think about the cowboys I know and knew, and how today’s cowboy has transcended from a stigma they received after fifty-plus years of misrepresentation from Hollywood. When I think about this and what National Day of the Cowboy is accomplishing with their efforts, I am relieved that the American cowboy is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Though historically the cowboy lifestyle and persona was adopted by Mexican vaqueros, it was the American cowboy who settled and tamed the American West. There is some debate about when the American cowboy culture actually began, whether it was during the Lewis and Clark or Mountain Man era, the Gold Rush, the days of the Santa Fe or Oregon Trail, or after those Civil War veterans stopped shooting Yankees and Rebs and started rounding up stray cattle in Texas. But I don’t think that really matters.

What the American cowboy is known for is durability, stamina, ruggedness, modesty, and respect.  He faced monumental hardships and the worst type of evil, but victory belonged to him. He treated women with gentleness and grace, and for all that he accomplished his triumph truly belonged to them. He was not just a white man, but a man of many colors. And the true American cowboy did not mistreat or misrepresent himself to the real Americans who were already here. They were his mentors, his spiritual compass, his brothers in peace and in arms.

What the American cowboy is not… he is not the hat or the boots, or the guns, the horse he rides, the pickup he drives. He is not the man who chews or smokes tobacco, drinks beer or whiskey, or eats biscuits and beans. He is not six-foot-five and bullet-proof, nor is his hide made of leather. Cowboy is his heart, his mind, and makes up the blood that flows through his veins and shines through in that genuine cowboy way.

For guys like me, I don’t need a reason to celebrate the American cowboy. I know who they are, where they are, and where they came from. But there are people who don’t, who have forgotten, and our children need to be educated about why and how America came to be and the role the cowboy played. For the same reason we have a presidents day, a day for mothers, fathers, and grandparents, and a day for Martin Luther King, we need a day for the cowboy. They are all significant contributors to what has made America great. They are all American heroes.

True Father

Please join me and others as we celebrate the American cowboy, and support National Day of the Cowboy and their efforts to preserve our pioneer heritage and cowboy culture.

About Steven Law:

Steven Law is the #1 best-selling author of Yuma Gold and The True Father, and the founder and president of the ReadWest Foundation, Inc. Visit his website at

You can also find Steven Law’s books via

Categories: Cowboy Code, Current Events, NDOC, Western, Writing, Writing Technique | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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