Bronze, Jo Davidson, National Statuary Hall Collection, 1939, Architect of the Capitol
A popular political pundent, the statue of Will Rogers is the second statue from the state of Oklahoma.
On this date, comedian and congressional commentator, Will Rogers, died in an airplane crash near Point Barrow, Alaska. He was the lone passenger in a plane piloted by veteran aviator, Wiley Post, while en route to vacation in Asia. Born in Oklahoma and a former cowboy, Rogers entered the entertainment business as a circus comedian. He later starred in a variety of Wild West shows, where he earned the reputation for “roasting” famous members of his audiences. Rogers garnered national comedic fame as a film star, radio personality, and syndicated columnist throughout the 1920s and 1930s. His column, first appearing in 1926 entitled “Will Rogers Says,” regularly commented on current events and politics and he became a confidant of many of Washington’s most powerful politicians. Congress was an endless source of humor for Rogers, who jokingly reported in 1927, when the 69th Congress
(1925–1927) ended that, “Well, I just seem lost for comedy since Congress adjourned. I would keep them in session the year round for my business, but I have some consideration for people.” Representatives eulogized Rogers on the House Floor after receiving word of his death. “The world well knows Will Rogers had many outstanding and loveable attainments,” noted Representative Jed Johnson
of Oklahoma. “But probably the most outstanding of all was his love for humanity . . . He knew life. He was a friend of man of all walks of life. He was broad-minded, generous, and, undoubtedly, the most beloved citizen in all the world.”