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Will Rogers,
Performer

By Richard J. Maturi and
Mary Buckingham Maturi

 

cover

BOOK REVIEW

Will Rogers, Performer [revised and expanded edition]
By Richard J. Maturi and Mary Buckingham Maturi

21st Century Publishers : Cheyenne, Wyoming : April 2008
ISBN 0-9607-2988-7 (978-0-9607-2988-3) : 304 pages : trade paperback : $24.95

Reviewed by Carl Bennett
Originally published by McFarland and Company, this expanded edition of the 1999 book on the entertainment career of Will Rogers is a valued addition to the expansive biographical works on the home-spun humorist. Intended as documentation of his vaudeville, motion picture, radio and authorial career, the book also captures the humor of Rogers with its ample quotations from his writings, interviews and films. The book is profusely illustrated with photographs and promotional materials from both the authors’ collection and the Will Rogers Memorial. Its revision and republication is timely, given the recent appearance of several of Rogers’ films on DVD home video.

The main body of the book is a chronological overview biography, which is well-written and sufficiently detailed to satisfy, while contemporary reviews of Rogers’ stage and film appearances give perspective to the critical reception of his performances. Sections cover Rogers’ work for Florenz Ziegfeld, Samuel Goldwyn, Hal Roach, William Fox and others. Of interest is the detailed filmography the completes the book, which is comprised of facts, production credits, synopses, Rogers quotations, and additional exerpts from contemporary reviews. The postscript to the book is a section entitled, “Will Rogers, Aviation Enthusiast,” amply illustrated with photographs, documenting Rogers’ love of flying which ultimately led to his untimely death.

We found the book to be a quick and worthwhile read, while providing a reasonably valuable filmography (always a requisite for us) of Rogers’ motion picture appearances.

 
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