Rob Cork first learned about Will Rogers when he saw his first Broadway musical, The Will Rogers Follies, in 1992. He later appeared in two different productions of the musical in the Washington, DC, area. He co-founded Kaleidoscope Theatre Company in 2002.
Favorite roles include Jungle Cruise Skipper at Walt Disney World, Charlie Davenport in Annie Get Your Gun, and Melbrook the Jester in Rumplestiltskin. He first appeared in Will Rogers’ U.S.A. at the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, DC, in 2012 and is delighted to continue to bring it to audiences around the country.
Will Rogers was born William Penn Adair Rogers on November 4, 1879 on his family’s ranch two miles east of Oolagah, Indian Territory, which later became the state of Oklahoma. He was the youngest of eight children born to Clem and Mary Rogers. Both of his parents had Cherokee Indian ancestry, and Will was approximately 1/4 Cherokee. Only three of his siblings, sisters Sallie Clementine, Maude Ethel, and May (Mary) survived into adulthood.
Will Rogers had a unique perspective on the people and places of his day, the early 1900’s. He performed for people all over the world, beginning as a trick roper in circuses and wild west shows and later in Vaudevllle and the Ziegfeld Follies. His roping act expanded to include timely social commentary. He appeared in motion pictures, on the radio, wrote newspaper columns, and was an avid public speaker. He saw our country transformed from open plains and farms to bustling cities. He was beloved by regular people, politicians, and world leaders, and said that his epitaph should read that, “…I never met a man I didn’t like.” Those words are engraved on his tomb in Claremore, Oklahoma.
He was married to Betty (Blake) Rogers (1879-1944) and they had four children: Will Rogers Jr., Jim, Mary and Fred, who died from diphtheria at the age of two. Will died on August 15, 1935 in a plane crash in Alaska with Wiley Post.