Claremore Daily Progress

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October 27, 2013

75th Anniversary

Will Rogers Days celebrates favorite son



Highlights during the last 75 years have included visits by poet Edgar A Guest, Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna, Vera Vauge, Les Brown and his Band of Renown in 1947, Pearl Carter Scott, taught to fly by Wiley Post when she was 13, and countless others. 
It was 1948 when the first commemorative Will Rogers three-cent stamp was released. Papers noted that 300,000 pieces were stamped in advance and total mailing for the day was expected to reach one million, equal to an average year’s mail-outs from Claremore at that time.
In 1950, the famous Electra Waggoner Biggs statue of Will on Soapsuds, was unveiled by Astrea Rogers, wife of Will’s son, Jimmy. 
On Will’s 81st birthday in 1960, the birthplace and 200 acres of the 1,500-acre Rogers ranch near Oologah, was deeded to the state of Oklahoma with arrangements for it to be a state park.
The list is long for cowboys, actors, politicians, and just plain folks. It includes movie stars Evelyn Venable Mohr, Fifi Dorsay, Johnny Crawford; Oklahoma icons Patti Page, baseball great Johnny Bench, movie stars and cattlemen Ben Johnson and Barry Corbin; and music performer Michael Martin Murphy. 
In 1979 Gen. Jimmie Doolittle came to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Will’s birth in Indian Territory; along with Postmaster General William Bolger who dedicated the 1979 Centennial stamp, Laurence Peter of the Peter Principle, and longtime Rogers family employee and confidant Emil Sandemeier, to name a few. 
One year, country crooner Willie Nelson was a surprise visitor for the Will Rogers Days Parade. Willard Scott broadcast the weather from the Museum on Nov 4, 1989. That same year, not long after he was paralyzed by a shot fired at President Ronald Reagan and his entourage, Press Secretary James Brady drew a large crowd in Claremore. 
Keith Carradine and Larry Gatlin came after being cast in Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue on Broadway; and Pat Boone when he was doing the Follies in Branson, Mo.

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