In recent days, a film crew has been working with “Route 66: The Mother Road” author Michael Wallis and Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry, great-granddaughter of Oklahoma humorist Will Rogers, at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma, and other locations for a project.
Russ Kirkpatrick of Kirkpatrick & Kinslow Productions in nearby Tulsa told me in an email what the project was all about:
Kirkpatrick & Kinslow Productions is working with the Will Rogers Foundation/Museums to produce a short film that will show how a Will Rogers/Route 66 Experience road trip can be a fun new way to travel Route 66. The viewer will start in Oologah at his birthplace, then stop at the Museum in Claremore. The journey continues as the viewer gets to experience the historic attractions along Route 66 until they arrive at the Ranch in California.
Kirkpatrick said the film will be about 3 minutes and will be finished by August.
It was reported late last year the Will Rogers Memorial Museum would include the promotion of Route 66, aka the Will Rogers Memorial Highway, during a series of changes in 2015.
Will Rogers helped promote U.S. 66, including during the Bunion Derby continental footrace in 1928, until he died in an airplane crash in Alaska in 1935. References to Route 66 being called the Will Rogers Highway began shortly after his death. A well-known monument dedicating the Will Rogers Highway also sits in Santa Monica, California, near the Santa Monica Pier.
Rogers indisputably was Oklahoma’s most famous citizen for much of the 20th century. He was so popular, he very likely would have been elected president had he run. But his prominence in the public memory has faded. So it’s good the museum is trying new ways for people to rediscover him — and the Mother Road.
(Image of Wallis and Rogers during filming courtesy of Russ Kirkpatrick)