One Life: Will Rogers


Will Rogers, by artist Charles Banks Wilson, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets, NW
Washington, DC

Floor Plan

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition One Life: Will Rogers is online only and will not be installed in the museum galleries.

Comedian Will Rogers was an American original whose insightful humor was surpassed only by his generosity of self and inestimable goodwill. Born in 1879 in Indian Territory in what became the state of Oklahoma, he was of Native American descent. His life in vaudeville, Hollywood and journalism won him many hearts across the country. Although his talents evolved from unerring cowboy with a lasso, to standup comedian, to movie star, Rogers was always himself—plainspoken, honest and funny. His enduring legacy as an actor and on-screen talent of Native American heritage survives in a wide array of media, including painted portraits, engaging sculpture, a plethora of caricatures, movie paraphernalia, photographs and film.

This exhibition is curated by Historian James Barber. Since 2006, the museum has held seventeen exhibitions in the series One Life, which is dedicated to the biography of a single figure.