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,
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 Americas 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
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
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,
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