Will Rogers Jr.

William Vann Rogers, generally known as Will Rogers Jr. (October 20, 1911 – July 9, 1993), was an American politician, writer, and newspaper publisher. He was the eldest son of humorist Will Rogers (1879–1935) and Betty Blake Rogers (1879–1944). He was a Democratic U. S. Representative from California from January 3, 1943, until May 23, 1944, when he resigned to return to the United States Army.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers, Jr.JPG
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 16th district
In office
January 3, 1943 – May 23, 1944
Preceded byLeland M. Ford
Succeeded byEllis E. Patterson
Personal details
William Vann Rogers

(1911-10-20)October 20, 1911
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedJuly 9, 1993(1993-07-09) (aged 81)
Tubac, Arizona, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Collier Connell
(m. 1941)
RelativesWill Rogers (father)
EducationStanford University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1942–1946
Unit893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion
814th Tank Destroyer Battalion
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsBronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star

Early life and military serviceEdit

Rogers at Alaska Methodist University during the 1967–1968 academic year, showing attendees his skill with a lasso.

Rogers was born in New York City, where his father was performing. He grew up in Los Angeles, and attended school there. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University in 1935. On completing his studies, he served as publisher of the Beverly Hills Citizen newspaper, a role in which he continued until 1953. He had been commissioned a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, but did not go on active duty. With U.S. entry into World War II, however, he enlisted as a private in June 1942, and was commissioned in the field artillery the following month and assigned to the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion.

Congress and return to active dutyEdit

While on active duty, Rogers was elected to the House of Representatives from California, and was sworn into office on January 3, 1943. He served in the 78th Congress. He did not complete his term, however, returning to active duty in the Army after resigning from Congress on May 23, 1944.[1]

As part of his confidential 1943 report for the British government about the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Foreign Office analyst Isaiah Berlin described Rogers’ political leanings and his prospective post-war positions regarding world order and, more specifically, the British Empire:

A new-comer to the House. Son of a very celebrated father. A sincere and somewhat impassioned young man who believes strongly in the Wallace type of internationalism and in cooperation with the United Nations. A trifle callow and politically inexperienced, he will undoubtedly be a vigorous and enthusiastic champion of all-out post-war co-operation with the United Nations. His fervent adherence to the liberal ideals of the "New Republic" may tend to make him critical of the British Empire.[2]

After his resignation, Rogers was assigned to the 814th Tank Destroyer Battalion and served in the European campaign in George Patton's Third United States Army. Rogers was wounded in action and also received a Bronze Star. He was released from active duty on March 1, 1946.

Postwar politicsEdit

Later in 1946, Rogers won the Democratic nomination for US Senator from California, but he lost in the November general election to the incumbent senator, William F. Knowland. (Coincidentally, both men would eventually die by suicide.)[citation needed]

Rogers was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1948, 1952, and 1956. Other government service included terms as a member of the California State Parks Commission (1958–1962, chairman 1960–1962), and special assistant to the Commission on Indian Affairs during the Johnson administration (1967–1969).


Rogers had a minor career as an actor and was most noted for playing his father (whom he closely resembled), particularly in The Story of Will Rogers (1952), Wild Heritage (1958) in which he played a judge, and in 1982 (in voice only) in The American Adventure at Disney's Epcot in Florida. He also appeared frequently in the 1950s television anthology series, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars. Rogers starred as "Tom Brewster" in The Boy from Oklahoma, a 1954 Western film directed by Michael Curtiz, the basis for the 1957 television series Sugarfoot, although the producers of that series chose to cast Will Hutchins in Rogers' part. Earlier, in 1953-1954, he starred too in Rogers of the Gazette, a CBS Radio series that lasted one season, playing the role of a small-town newspaper owner.[3] Also for one season, in 1956, he hosted The Morning Show on CBS Television but was replaced by Jimmy Dean. He was one of several actors as well to host syndicated reruns of the television anthology series Death Valley Days, with the episodes he hosted airing under the title The Pioneers.

Later years and deathEdit

In his later years, Rogers retired to his ranch at Tubac, Arizona. In poor health after suffering several strokes, having heart problems, and having had hip replacements, Rogers died by suicide in 1993 at the age of 81. He was buried next to his wife in the Tubac Cementery (as the cemetery is called). Rogers was survived by his two sons, Clem Adair Rogers and Carl Connell Rogers and his brother, James Rogers.[4][5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Rogers, William Vann, Jr". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  2. ^ Hachey, Thomas E. (Winter 1973–1974). "American Profiles on Capitol Hill: A Confidential Study for the British Foreign Office in 1943" (PDF). Wisconsin Magazine of History. 57 (2): 141–153. JSTOR 4634869. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 21, 2013.
  3. ^ Kirby, Walter (July 5, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved July 5, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  
  4. ^ "Will Rogers Jr., Humorist's Son, Soldier, Politician and Actor, 81". New York Times. July 11, 1993. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  5. ^ Nazario, Sonia (1993). “Ailing Will Rogers Jr., 81, Commits Suicide : Obituary: Actor, journalist and former congressman worked to ensure his famous father's legacy. He had suffered two strokes and recently undergone hip implant surgery”, archives of the Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1993. Retrieved October 27, 2013.

See also Standing on the Shadow - The Will Rogers, Jr. Story,

Lyle Johnston (2019) privately printed.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 16th congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from California
(Class 1)

Succeeded by