When Will Rogers was killed “Steamboat ‘Round the Bend” and “In Old Kentucky” were ready for release.
Fox thought audiences might not want to see a film with their favorite star that had died. But it was exactly opposite.
After his death. movie fans flocked to theaters to see his earlier films and clamored for re-release of all the earlier films. Fox wouldn’t do that. A company spokesman said they didn’t want to profit from a tragedy.
However, “Steamboat ‘Round the Bend” was released nine days after his death, first in the mid and far west. The studio was pleased with the response.
By popular request, it will be showing at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum Theatre Friday, Aug. 24 as the feature film of the month. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., the movie starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free and free popcorn and drinks will be served.
Apparently one scene in the movie was changed. A newspaper clipping said the closing scene in the original showed Will waving farewell to Irvin Cobb and that was the last thing one saw of Will.
Bryan and Frances Sterling’s book “Will Rogers in Hollywood” said Cobb urged cutters to save the scene, but in the end Fox wouldn’t do it as it would send audience from the theater crying.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Will’s first movie, “Laughing Bill Hyde,” a silent. Movie nights are planned at least through the end of this year.