I never met a man I didn’t like

Who was Will Rogers? He can’t be easily defined – he was a horse breaker, circus performer, vaudeville wise-cracker, movie star, raconteur, political commentator, journalist, humanist, author, aviator and much more. Three things are certain – he was one of the best loved public figures of his era, he had an astonishing work ethic, and he was one of the most quoted men of his age.

As a humorist-philosopher, he could be both self-effacing and pointed in his social and political commentary which he delivered with an ‘aw shucks’ cowboy drawl.

The following comments are typical:

  • “Well, all I know is what I read in the papers.”
  • “You know everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.”
  • “An ignorant person is one who doesn’t know what you have just found out.”
  • “Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”
  • “We are the first nation in the history of the world to go to the poor house in an automobile.”
  • “Be it pestilence, war, or famine, the rich get richer and poor get poorer. The poor even help arrange it.”

Of the many quotes for which he is remembered perhaps the most famous is his epitaph:

“I never met a man I didn’t like.”

In fact, the quote is incomplete. Rogers actually said:

“I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.”

 

Biography

Rogers was born on Native American land, now a part of Oklahoma, to a prominent local family in 1879. Both his parents had Cherokee blood.

Rogers said: “Of course my people didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but we were there to meet the folks when they landed.”

His show business career commenced when he performed as a trick roper in “Texas Jack’s Wild West Circus” and Wirth’s Circus in Australia. He went on to demonstrate his roping skills at the St Louis World Fair in 1904 and later on Vaudeville.

In 1908, Rogers married Betty Blake. They had four children and remained married until his death.

In 1916 Rogers joined the Ziegfeld Follies where, he eventually transitioned from a ‘Ropin’ Fool  to a Talkin’ Fool’. His satirical commentaries on current affairs were to define the rest of his career. He continued to perform with the Follies until 1925.

Between 1918 and his death, Rogers made sixty-nine films of which forty-eight were silent movies.

He travelled widely across the United States on lecture tours, spoke at conventions and delivered after dinner speeches. Somehow, he also found the time to become a radio and Broadway star, a goodwill ambassador to Mexico and the mayor of Beverly Hills – a largely ceremonial position that he used to mock himself and other politicians.

From 1922 until his death in 1935 Rogers was also a newspaper columnist and prolific author of books and essays.

In 1935, Rogers, a passionate aviator, was killed in an airplane crash in Alaska.

12 thoughts on “I never met a man I didn’t like”

  1. Probably not. But, it may come as a surprise to some that, at the time of Rogers’ death, Hitler had many famous admirers in the USA, including Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford and more than a few senators.

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  2. Wow, this is a time worthy article for me to spend on and read! I always heard of many quotes from many public figures and big shot, but I didn’t know the story and biography of most of them. It is important to know more about the person in order to have a deeper understanding on the quotes that the person spoke or stated before. Same thing, I heard about Will Rogers quotes but now I finally have chance to know more about him and appreciate more of the quotes he stated.

    Thanks for sharing such great article. You have done a great job.

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  3. Oh, what a wonderful man he is. I am sure he must have been a happy man all his life and what other way to enjoy your world than to live a life that is just so jolly and also bring joy and happiness to so many other people that you met in your own journey in this world. Iike will Rodgers.

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    • Thanks for you comments, Jay. The world seems so much more cynical these days. It’s must be hard for the current generation to understand just how much respect and affection people like Will Rogers and Mark Twain enjoyed.

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  4. hello there amazing article you have here this really caught my attention as i was glancing through it i just could not ignore it wow these are wise words from a wise man i really loved the talked about his biography i have heard alot of quotes for people i did not know of but this is one of the best thanks for sharing this with me.

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  5. I’m a very big fan of good quotes even though I disregard a lot of quotes because most writers nowadays just fill up their books with misleading quotes to suite their own tastes. It’s very good to read about Will Rogers, I like his career and his style of writing, his quotes are quite interesting too.

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  6. At the movies as a kid in the 1950s, during the break between double features I would watch coming attractions, the newsreel, and cartoons. Once a year, the projectionist re-ran an appeal for contributions to the Will Rogers retirement home for indigent film folk which ended with a still of a statue of the entertainer overlaid with his epitaph: “I never met a man I didn’t like.”
    Even as a kid I found that thought utterly inexplicable. Even before I reached ten I had met several men I didn’t like. I could not understand how a grown man could have gone through his whole life but had never met a single unlikeable person. In my very young eyes it made Will Rogers seem like a fool. My later years confirmed that judgment as I met more and more men whom I did not like including those I confronted in combat in Vietnam and Cambodia, men who were trying to kill me and whom I certainly did not like, to the extent that I went and killed some of them.

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    • You make an interesting point. The full quote was: “I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.”

      It might have been his way of saying ‘Only Kidding’ if he cut to close to the quick. Some of his comments were quite biting.

      Cheers

      Reply

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