One hundred years ago, Will Rogers life took a new turn. After a time in Wild West shows and on stage, he was welcomed to the “ big screen” and starred in his first movie. In late 1918 he debuted his movie career in “Laughing Bill Hyde,” which was the start of a career that propelled him into one of the nation’s wealthiest and most popular movie actors at the time of his death Aug. 15, 1935 in an Alaska plane crash.
Will Rogers Birthday Bash Nov. 1-4 continues the year of events that have paid tribute to his movie career and his Nov. 4, 1879 birth on an Indian Territory Ranch. The focus will continue to create a movie atmosphere in Claremore with memories of individual favorite movies, according to Tad Jones, Will Rogers Memorial Museum executive director.
Michael Wallis, voice of the Sheriff in Pixar movie “Cars” will be parade marshal for the 3 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2 parade. A Tulsa author and well-known biographer of Route 66, he has earned many honors as a writer and historian.
Oklahoman Gray Frederickson, Oscar winning producer for “The Godfather – Part II,” and involved in all three “Godfather” films and “Apocalypse Now” will be a special guest. An Oklahoman, he is currently on the staff of Oklahoma City Community College. The public can join him for a discussion of movies he produced on Nov. 2 from noon-1pm
Businesses and individuals, including school children, are encouraged to dress as a favorite movie character for the celebration, decorate windows and participate in the parade followed by a birthday party at the Claremore Museum of History and Gazebo Park.
Prizes will be awarded for best movie theme for dress, window and business décor and parade floats.
The birthday weekend begins on Nov. 1 with the annual Kids Day at the Memorial Museum with special appearances by Cherokee Storyteller Robert Lewis and Magician Doug Anderson.
Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club will honor Will in their time-old tradition started 80 years ago when the Museum opened. A Nov. 3, 10 a.m. program and ceremony at the statue of Will in the Museum rotunda and placing a wreath at the family tomb, will be followed by a formal reception a the Museum, according to Ollie Starr, longtime member.
A Mid-Afternoon Frolic Talent Show, patterned after Will’s afternoon performances on the New York stage will be Nov. 3, 10 a.m. in the Museum Theatre (ages 5-18).
Other public events during the Birthday Bash celebration will include:
Nov. 3 - Cherokee Wings Race, AK and fun run through the Rogers State Reserve, check-in begins 6:30 a.m. at the Museum
Nov. 3 - 22nd Annual Native American Festival at RSU Centennial Center, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Nov. 3 - First Saturday Downtown, shopping and special sales
Nov. 4 – Free admission to the Memorial Museum, no special event planned
(Editor’s note: For parade and talent show information and entry forms and Wings Race application, see willrogers.com.)
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