When Will Rogers made motion pictures, he took a little bit of Claremore to Hollywood.

Yesterday, a little bit of Hollywood came to Claremore, as two California film executives were on-hand for the unveiling of a painting presented to the Will Rogers Museum by the Will Rogers Motion Pictures Foundation of Toluca Lake, Calif.

Representatives from 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures, as well as the governor’s office, were among the VIPs present to witness the unveiling.

“Will Rogers doesn’t just represent the best of Hollywood, he represents the best of America,” said Rory Bruer, president of Sony Motion Picture Distribution and the Will Rogers Motion Pictures Pioneers. “It’s an honor for me to be part of an organization that bears his name, and as my father was from Catoosa originally, I’ve got ties to this area — Will Rogers has always been a part of my own heritage.”

The picture, 1946 larger-than-life portrait of Will Rogers, was painted by the late Tulsa World artist Clarence Canning Allen.

For years, it hung on display at the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital in Saranac Lake, N.Y., but was donated to the Will Rogers Museum by Todd Vradenburg of the Will Rogers Motion Pioneers Foundation for permanent display.

The painting’s original unveiling was in 1950 in New York, the headquarters of the Will Rogers Memorial Fund, an organization founded to provide financial assistance for healthcare needs to entertainment industry members in need.

In addition to Bruer and Vradenburg, also present for the unveiling was Bruce Snyder of 20th Century Fox, to whom, Memorial director Michelle Lefebvre-Carter largely credited the recent release of Will Rogers movies on DVD.

“Will was very good to 20th Century Fox — for almost 25 years, his movies kept the studio alive, so it’s been an honor for us to be part of releasing his movies on DVD,” Snyder said. “It’s a privilege to be here today to be a part of this unveiling.”

In an article published in a 1940s magazine, artist Allen said “the plan of rendering the portrait (of Will Rogers) was a difficult problem — it must be strong in color and power to be appreciated at a distance far greater than that of a drawing room or gallery. It must be handled in a style that would satisfy the most curious as to the visible character of the man.”

Allen’s portrait of Rogers emphasized Rogers’ features and clothing fabrics by the building of paints, layer upon layer, until they reached nearly a quater-inch in thickness, giving the painting an almost three-dimensional, “topographical” appearance.

The unveiling ceremony concluded with Lefebvre-Carter assisting Bruer, Vradenburg, and Snyder in the unveiling.

Visitors can see Allen’s portrait of Will Rogers for themselves at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum during regular business hours.

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