Will Rogers: A Biography by Ben Yagoda, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Will Rogers: A Biography

Will Rogers: A Biography

by Ben Yagoda
     
 

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Will Rogers was a true American icon. His newspaper column was read daily by 40 million people, and as radio entertainer, lecturer, movies star, and homespun sage, he was one of our most popular entertainers.

Overview

Will Rogers was a true American icon. His newspaper column was read daily by 40 million people, and as radio entertainer, lecturer, movies star, and homespun sage, he was one of our most popular entertainers.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Rogers emodied old-time values, yet he 'opportunistically' embraced the new mass-culture media. Apostle of decency, he headlined in the 'all-but pornographic' Ziegfeld Follies. Yagoda...has written the fullest biography of thie AMerican icon, a resonant portrait imbued with Roger's irreverent spirit, yet attuned to both the strengths and limitations of his commonsense, crackerbarrel world view." —Publishers Weekly

"Someone has finally written a good biography od Will Rogers....It's a delight to be reminded that political humor without meanness of spirit is not only possible, but indeed is a great American tradition. Politicians and all who labor with them will relish Ben Yagoda's Will Rogers, but so will those who enjoy show biz tidbits and vaudeville history."—New York Times Book Review

"[A] superbly researched biography of Will Rogers."—Los Angeles Times

"Yagoda offers an utterly thorough, brilliant taking-apart of the unique Rogers persona....So immediate you can scratch a match on his boot sole."—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Born in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), cowboy humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) had a ``dual consciousness,'' in Yagoda's estimate. The rope-twirling vaudeville monologist, salty political commentator, silent film actor and New York Times columnist was the son of a former slaveholder and Confederate veteran, but he was also one-quarter Cherokee and the tribe vividly remembered Andrew Jackson's massive betrayal of the Cherokees. Rogers embodied old-time values, yet he ``opportunistically'' embraced the new mass-culture media. Apostle of decency, he headlined in the ``all-but-pornographic'' Ziegfeld Follies. Yagoda, a University of Delaware assistant professor of English, has written the fullest biography of this American icon, a resonant portrait imbued with Rogers's irreverent spirit, yet attuned to both the strengths and limitations of his commonsense, crackerbarrel world view. Sam Goldwyn, W. C. Fields, Charles Lindbergh, Calvin Coolidge, FDR and Mussolini stride through these pages. Photos. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Clear as a Walker Evans photo: a biography of folk-humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935), who, like Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart, grew into his mask, becoming the image of wry, genial common sense until his death. Yagoda (English/University of Delaware) offers an utterly thorough, brilliant taking-apart of the unique Rogers persona. Ronald Reagan, he tells us, gave "an impressive Rogers impersonation in the White House" and back in the 40's was thought to be a natural to play Rogers in the film bio—but Will Rogers, Jr., got the role. "For there to be another Will Rogers today," Rogers says, "he (or she) would have to combine...Johnny Carson, Mark Russell, Roy Rogers, Clark Clifford, Walter Cronkite, Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, Russell Baker, H. Ross Perot, and Walter Lippmann. It just can't happen." Yagoda finds Rogers to have been a divided being, a rather gleeful but sometimes despairing and angry youth who clammed up after marriage and became the model of "unmatched stability, drive and contentment." One-quarter Cherokee, he rode the plains as a young cowboy, then took his mastery of the lariat and patter to the vaudeville stage, emerging as the Lincolnesque figure who "never met a man I didn't like." Rogers went on to a rather bumpkin-ish career in silent movies; graduated to a kind of sheepishly patriarchal status in talkies; made records; then became a radio humorist, syndicated newspaper columnist, and crony of politicians while grabbing the ear of FDR and topping out as Hollywood's number-one star: An amazing, unforeseeable life. As a speaker about politics, he kept his knife sheathed, talking as if from the very pulse of the people during the Depression, and was finallyseen by all as the apostle of decency and archetype of American wisdom. His interest in aviation led to his death in Alaska—and to the grief of a nation. So immediate you can scratch a match on his boot sole. (Photographs)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780806132389
Publisher:
University of Oklahoma Press
Publication date:
04/28/2000
Edition description:
Subsequent
Pages:
456
Sales rank:
530,767
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.46(h) x 0.99(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Ben Yagoda is Associate Professor of English and Journalism at the University of Delaware. He is the coeditor of The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism and is the author of a forthcoming history of The New Yorker.

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