William Vann Rogers Junior

William Vann Rogers Junior or "Bill" as he preferred to be called, was born on October 20, 1911 in New York City and was the eldest of four children.  He married Collier Connell in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 26, 1941 and together they had two children.  Clem Adair Rogers was born on December 22, 1938 and Carl Connell was born on January 27, 1952.

William graduated from Stanford University just before his father's death in 1935.  It was said he was preparing for an adventuresome voyage as a deck hand on a freighter when he got the news of his father's death.  Bereaved by the loss of his father, he had to continue to live his life in the glaring spotlight of public interest.

Despite only serving in Congress for 17 months, William. would gain fame as a politician and would forever be remembered as the American politician who did the most to try and save the Jews of Europe during World War II.  He joined the Emergency Committee to save the Jewish people of Europe in 1942.  He also introduced a bill called the Rescue Resolution that, if passed, would have established safe havens for Jewish refugees from Europe in nearby neutral countries. The bill failed to pass, largely due to opposition from President Roosevelt and his administration.

Rogers resigned from Congress in 1944 and returned to the United States Army as a tank commander with the 7th Armored Division, under General Geo. Patton.  Unlike most celebrity children, Will actually saw combat and was wounded in action and received the Purple Heart.

In 1946 he made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate so decided to leave politics all together to instead concentrate on a career in show business, which he had dabbled in as a child.   William had a reasonably successful career appearing in various TV roles and even a few movies.  He was also the first host of the CBS-TV morning show in the 1950's.

SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON:  LOST IN THE JUNGLE:  Filmed in Mexico in 1957, "Swiss Family Robinson: Lost in the Jungle" was adapted from the novel by Johann Wyss.  This was the pilot episode for a proposed television series, and was released in 2000, as part of a DVD extra for "Ulmer's The Pirates of Capri".   

THE AMERICAN ADVENTURE:   The American Adventure, unveiled in 1982 was the flagship pavilion of Epcot World Showcase, that celebrates the spirit of America’s history and diversity.  Will Rogers Jr. was cast to perform the voice over parts for the role of his father in this showcase.

AMOS BURKE, SECRET AGENT:  Will Rogers junior appeared in a 1963 episode of the TV version of "Burke's Law" in an episode called "Who Killed Holly Howard?"

WILD HERITAGE:  This 1958 western starred Will Rogers junior as Judge Copeland.  He even got top billing in the credits.

SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE OF STARS:  This was a television series that ran from 1951 to 1959.  Will Rogers Jr. appeared in 4of these episodes.  The first was "Gift of the Devil" in 1954, then "The Schoolmarm" in 1954, "A Mule for Sante Fe" in 1955 and lastly "On a Dark Night" in 1956.

A BOY FROM OKLAHOMA:  Will Rogers jr. starred in this 1954 western as Sheriff Tom Brewster.  Tom Brewster, handy with a rope but not a gun, rides into town and mails his lawyer's exam. When his lack of ability with a gun is exposed, the town boss Turlock offers him the job of Sheriff but he refuses. When the mail is robbed leaving him without a job to ride to, he changes his mind. But Turlock has misjudged Tom and Tom without a gun is soon on the trail of the former Sheriff's killer and it will lead to Turlock.  This movie is said to have spawned the 1950's TV show called "Sugarfoot".

THE FORD TELEVISION THEATRE:  This is a TV series that ran from 1952 to 1957 of which Will Rogers Jr. appeared in two episodes.  "Lucky Tommy Jordan" in 1954 and again in 1952 in the episode entitled "Life, Liberty and Orrin Dooley".

THE EDDIE CANTOR STORY:  This is a 1953 movie (musical) where Will Rogers Jr. had apparently a small part in.  Although he is listed on the box credits for the movie, he's pretty far down on the credits list so not sure how big of a part he really has.  In this movie he plays the role of his father.

THE STORY OF WILL ROGERS:  In 1952 Will Rogers Jr. was cast in the lead of the story about his father.  But even more interesting was that the movie was based on the story of her father, as told by his mother.  It was said he gave an amazing performance.  Jane Wyman was cast as his wife.  This movie is now available on DVD.

LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING:  In 1949 he again played the role of his father in this musical that chronicles the life of the 1920's Broadway star Marilyn Miller.

DEATH VALLEY DAYS:  This was a western series that lasted from 1952 to 1965 with western stories and legends based, and filmed, in and around Death Valley, CA. One of the longest-running Western series, originating on radio in the 1930s. One of the hosts, actor Ronald Reagan, left his role to become Governor (then President). The continuing sponsor was "20 Mule Team" Borax, a product mined in Death Valley.  Will Rogers junior seems to have been the host of 'The Pioneers' version of the show in 1960.

THIS IS YOUR LIFE:  Will Rogers Junior appeared in the 1959 Leo Carrillo episode of this popular television series.

THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW:  In 1952 when the Ed Sullivan show was known as "Toast of the Town", Will Rogers junior appeared on the show.  Episode #5.46.  Also appearing in this episode was world famous golfer Ben Hogan, Sunny Howard, Trini Reyes, opera star Rise Stevens and comedian Jack Carter.

Just after turning 80 he suffered from heart disease and a series of strokes. At the age of 81, hip implant surgery left him in great pain. To end his suffering, he drove into the Arizona desert, somewhere near Tubac and shot himself in the head on July 10, 1993.  His wife had died years before in June of 1976 at Popotla, Baja, California and his two sons Clem and Carlos died just a few years later, sometime around the year 2000.  Both Will Rogers Jr. and his wife Collier are buried in Tubac Arizona.  Collier died in June of 1976 at Popotla, Baja, California. Both Will, Jr. or Bill Rogers and his wife, Collier are buried in Tubac, Arizona.

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