June 28, 1935 - Will Rogers

The sketch, by Kent Twitchell, was to be painted on the north wall of the California Theater in honor of Will Rogers, who staged his last public performance at San Bernardino's historic theater on June 28, 1935. Before painting could begin it was discovered that a new movie theater was to be built nearby that would hide some of the mural.  Twitchell decided to paint two portraits of the famed cowboy philosopher, one on each side of the building, to commemorate the final performance of one of America's finest humorist. 

West Wall - Will Rogers in his mid fifties (Photo by Steve Shaw).............. East Wall - Will Rogers in his younger days (Photo by Steve Shaw)

The two murals on the exterior walls of the California Theater are approximately 68 feet tall and were painted between 1997 and 2000 by the world famous artist Kent Twitchell.  Both murals are lit at night.

Will Rogers was born on November 4, 1879, in Oologah, Indian Territory (which became Oklahoma in 1907). Rogers first job was in the livestock business in Argentina.  Later he wrote weekly articles for the "New York Times", and became a world famous American humorist of the stage, the Ziegfeld Follies and motion pictures.  

As his official biography says, "Over the years he gradually blended into his act his unique style of topical, iconoclastic humor, in which he speared the efforts of the powerful to trample the rights of the common man, while twirling his lariat and perhaps chewing on a blade of straw".

A few of Rogers' personal quotes:

"I never met a man I didn't like."

"I love a dog, he does nothing for political reasons."

"The trouble with practical jokes is that they often get elected."

"Outside of traffic, there is nothing that has held this country back as much as committees."

"Everything is funny, as long as it's happening to someone else."

On August 15, 1935, six weeks after his last stage performance, Will Rogers was killed in an airplane crash with his friend and pioneer aviator, Wiley Post, near Point Barrow, Alaska.