Monday, August 28, 2023

The Wit and Wisdom of Will Rogers

William Penn Adair Rogers was born on November 4, 1879.   He was a Native American vaudeville performer, actor and humorous social commentator.  Born a citizen of the Cherokee Nation in what is now part of Oklahoma, Will was known as "Oklahoma's Favorite Son."  During his career, he made 71 films, 50 of which were silent films. 

 Will sometime before 1900

In December of 1922, Will launched a national syndicated newspaper column.  It was known as "The Weekly Column" in the Sunday edition of The New York Times.  During his lifetime, he wrote over 4,000 columns on a variety of subjects.

On August 25, 1935, Will Rogers and aviator Wiley Post died when their small plane crashed in northern Alaska.  Will was 55 at the time of his passing.

A selection of  Will Rogers quotes.

I never met a man I didn't like.  

  • "One of his most famous and most quoted remarks. First printed in the Boston Globe, June 16, 1930, after he had attended Tremont Temple Baptist Church, where Dr. James W. Brougher was minister. He asked Will to say a few words after the sermon. The papers were quick to pick up the remark, and it stayed with him the rest of his life. He also said it on various other occasions" ~  The Will Rogers Book , by Paula McSpadden Love, niece of Will Rogers and curator of the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma.
    • Variant: I joked about every prominent man in my lifetime, but I never met one I didn't like.
    • John D. [Rockefeller] sure carried out my old saying, "I never met a man I didn't like." Nationally syndicated column number 219, Rogers Gets Six Shiny Dimes From Oil King (1927). 

When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: "I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I dident [sic] like." I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved.

- Will Rogers, 1930, from The Will Rogers Book , by Paula McSpadden Love

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.

Daily Telegram #1172, Will Rogers Sees No Value In All The Time We Save (28 April 1930) 

    • The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them.
      • As quoted in The New Speaker's Treasury of Wit and Wisdom (1958) by Herbert Victor Prochnow, p. 190


    When the Judgment Day comes civilization will have an alibi, "I never took a human life, I only sold the fellow the gun to take it with."

    Daily Telegram #926, A General Digging Out Of Old War Contracts (15 July 1929)

    You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.

    • Daily Telegram #1063, Will Rogers Has An Idea About Disarmament Plans (22 December 1929)

    • I am a peace man. I haven't got any use for wars and there is no more humor in 'em than there is reason for 'em.
      • Daily Telegram (4 December 1931), as quoted in Will Rogers' Daily Telegrams (1979), p. 104; also in Will Rogers Speaks: Over 1,000 Timeless Quotations for Public Speakers (1995) edited by Bryan B. Sterling and ‎Frances N. Sterling, p. 304


     doubt if a charging elephant, or a rhino, is as determined, or hard to check, as a socially ambitious mother.
    • Daily Telegram #1808, Mr. Rogers' Heart Goes Out To Our Envoy To St. James's (10 May 1932) in The New York Times, 11 May, 1932 

    You know everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.

    • Nationally syndicated column number 90, From Nuts To The Soup (31 August 1924); published in The New York Times 

    • We all can't be heroes, for someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.
      • As quoted in The Complete Speaker's Index to Selected Stories for Every Occasion (1967) by Jacob Morton Braude, p. 16
      • Variant: We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.
        • As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1979) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 240

    • Personally, I have always felt the best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can't ask his patients what is the matter — he's got to just know.
      • As quoted in Ether and me; or "Just relax." (1973)\

    • An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh.
      • As quoted in You Must Remember This (1975) by Walter Wagner, p. 175

    • An ignorant person is one who doesn't know what you have just found out.
      • As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1979) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 258

    • We are here just for a spell and then pass on. So get a few laughs and do the best you can. Live your life so that whenever you lose it, you are ahead.
      • Inscribed on the Will Rogers Memorial Building in Claremore, Oklahoma.


    Will Rogers was a lifelong Democrat, but avoided partisanship.

    • I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.
      • 'Rogers was a lifelong Democrat but he studiously avoided partisanship. He contributed to the Democratic campaign funds, but at the same time he frequently appeared on benefit programs to raise money for the Republican treasury. Republican leaders sought his counsel in their campaigns as often as did the Democrats."  ~ P. J. O'Brien, From Will Rogers Ambassador of Good Will, Prince of Wit and Wisdom
      • Variants: I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat.
        I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.

    • This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation.
      • Daily Telegram #1948, Will Rogers Favors Closing the Campaign Right Now and Letting The Boys Go Fishing (1 November 1932) 

    • You've got to be optimist to be a Democrat, and you've got to be a humorist to stay one.
      • Good Gulf radio show (24 June 1934)

    • That's one thing about Republican Presidents. They never went in much for plans. They only had one plan. It says "Boys, my head is turned. Just get it while you can."
      • radio broadcast (21 April 1935)

    This election was lost four and five and six years ago not this year. They dident [sic] start thinking of the old common fellow till just as they started out on the election tour. The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickled down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the dryest little spot. But he dident know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow's hands. They saved the big banks but the little ones went up the flue.
    • Nationally syndicated column number 518, And Here's How It All Happened (1932), as published in the Tulsa Daily World, 5 December 1932.

    • Communism is like prohibition, it's a good idea but it won't work.
         From The Autobiography of Will Rogers {1949], edited by Donald Day

    - Joanne

    Tuesday, August 22, 2023

    Sand sculpture at Canadian National Exzhibition (CNE)


    Last Sunday, I visited the CNE and I viewed a sand sculpture in the Better Living Centre.  This year's theme is endangered animals.  The 14 endangered species featured on the sculpture are as follows:

    Sumatran Tiger - Sumatra (Indonesia)

    Golden Lion - Tamarin - Brazil

    California Condor - North America

    Blue Throated Macaw- Bolivia

    Black Rhino - Africa

    African Elephant - Africa

    Blue Fin Tuna - Oceans

    Hawkbill Sea Turtle - Oceans

    Orangutan - Borneo

    Pangolin - Africa, Asia

    Western Lowland Gorilla - Congo, Cameroon, Gabon

    Monarch Butterfly - North America

    Polar Bear - Canada, Russia, Norway, Greenland, United States

    Beluga Whale - Arctic Ocean


    About the artist

    Karen and Star Trek sculture - 2016  Photo by Chris Robart 

    Karen Fralich is a Canadian artist known for sand sculpting.  She is based in Guelph, Ontario and has been creating sand structures for 28 years.  To  date, Karen has competed in over 150 Masters Level International sand sculpture contests, winning 27 First Place Titles,  Karen is a five-time world champion sand sculptor.  One of her first commissioned pieces was a 500-tonne replica of the Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz.

    Karen is a globetrotting sand sculptor and her work takes her all over the world.  She has collaborated with friends, festivals and companies in 11 different countries.  

    In 2020 and 2021, Kareen served as of two resident judges on Season 1 and Season 2 of CBC's Race Against the Tide.

    - Joanne

    Thursday, August 17, 2023

    Keeping Up With Connie Francis

    1961 photo of Connie Francis

    “I tried to see humor in everything, even when I was in a mental institution. But I have to say the support of the public has also been incredibly uplifting. They saw me through the best and worst of times and never stopped writing from around the world to encourage me.”

    - Connie Francis, as quoted in The Jackson Sun, September 29, 2017

    Connie Francis's sense of humour has helped her through a life of tragedy.  The versatile singer has performed a wide variety of songs from many genres, from pop, to rock to old standards and non-English language.  She has been plagued by misfortune, but she has been a survivor.

    In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Connie Francis was one of the most popular female vocalists in the world.  Connie was born Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero in Newark, New Jersey on December 12, 1937 or 1938 (according to various sources).  She was the first child of working-class Italian Americans George and Ida ( (née Ferrari-di Vito) Franconero.  With the encouragement of her father, Connie entered talent contests and pageants at a young age.  At four years old,, she performed at the Olympic Amusement Park in New Jersey, where she played the accordion and sang "Anchors Aweigh."

    Some of Connie's earliest years were spent in the Crown Heights district of Brooklyn, New York, an Italian-Jewish neighbourhood. She learned how to speak Yiddish and later recorded recorded songs in Yiddish and Hebrew.  In 1951 and 1952, Connie attended Newark Arts High School.  Her family then moved to Belleville, New Jersey, where she graduated from Belleville High School in 1955.

    In 1950, Connie appeared on Arthur's Godfrey's nationally televised Talent Scouts program;  It was Godfrey's who advised her to change her name to "Connie Francis." because he found it difficult to pronounce "Concetta Franconero."  Godfrey also advised her to drop the accordion, and Connie gladly complied.  She was pleased to rid herself of the instrument, which she found to be heavy and and cumbersome.

    Between 1953 and 1955, Connie appeared on Startime Kids, a children's TV variety show in New York City.  In 1955, Connie signed a contract as a vocalist with MGM Records, but her earliest recordings failed to attract an audience.  In the autumn of 1957, she finally achieved chart success with "The Majesty of Love," a song she had recorded with Marvin Rainwater.  The song eventually went on to sell one million copies.  Nevertheless, MGM Records informed Connie that her contract would not be renewed.

    Connie then considered a career in medicine.  She was all set to accept a four-year scholarship offered by New York University when fate and her father got in the way.  On October 2, 1957, she  recorded what was to be her final single for MGM   It was a 1920s standard called "Who's Sorry Now?," which Connie sang as a rock ballad.  Connie didn't particularly like the song, but recorded it at the insistence of her father who was convinced that it had the potential to be a big hit.  He felt that adults were already familiar with the song and that teenagers would dance to it if it had a contemporary arrangement.  

    "My father was the one that insisted on 'Who's Sorry Now?'.  "I fought him all the way, she told  .  "Although I didn't want to do that song, we had 16 minutes left in a session in the studio, so my dad told me to record it even if he had to nail me that microphone.  I did it in 1.5 takes, and I had a big hit, thanks to my father."  

    Connie's father was right about "Who's Sorry Now?"  The song became a huge hit when it was promoted by Dick Clark on his popular American Bandstand television show for teens.  After the success of "Who's Sorry Now?," Connie searched for a follow-up hit.  She found it in "Stupid Cupid," a song written by Neil Sedaka  and Howard Greenfield.  

    Sedaka and Greenfield presented Connie with ballads, which she rejected.  She requested a more up tempo song that would appeal to the teenage market.  At the urging of Greenfield, Sedaka played "Stupid Cupid" for her and she said "That's it. You guys got my next record."  "Stupid Cupid" was the first of a sting of hits that Connie recorded while working with songwriters Sedaka and Greenfield, including "Lipstick on Your Collar," "Everybody's Somebody's Fool, ""My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" and "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You."

    1958 Billboard Ad

    At the pinnacle of her fame, Connie appeared frequently on television, performing on American Bandstand and on The Ed Sullivan Show. On August 27, 1961, she was the mystery guest on the quiz show What's My Line?  She also guest-starred in a 1964 episode of The Jack Benny Program. Connie acted in several teen-oriented movies for MGM, most notably Where the Boys Are (1960), for which she sang the title song, as well as Follow the Boys (1963), Looking for Love (1964) and When the Boys Meet the Girls (1965).  She stated that "I should have made more movies or better movies."

    Connie with Jack Benny in 1964

    By the mid-1960s,, Connie and other performers were overshadowed by the Beatles and the British Invasion.  With her popularity waning and her vocal abilities limited by nasal surgery, Connie was forced to put her career on hiatus.  In November 1974, she attempted a comeback by performing at the Westbury Music Fair in New York.  After a performance, she was brutally beaten, raped and robbed at knifepoint by a bugler who had broken into to her suite at the Howard Johnson Motor Hotel in Westbury, Long Island.  On the morning of November 8, police found Connie naked, bound and gagged, and tied to an overturned chair. After such a nightmarish and traumatic experience, she once again put her career on hold,

    In 1974, Connie won a landmark lawsuit against the motel, which she claimed failed to provide enough security.  She returned to Westbury in November of 1981, but her assailant was never apprehended.  "For seven years, I was virtually in total seclusion after being raped at Westbury.  But I was getting thousands of letters from people who'd had bad experiences," she told the Washington Post in December 1981,

    The savage attack led to Connie having a nervous breakdown, ruined her marriage to her third husband, Joe Garzilli, and stifled her career.  Unfortunately, the singer suffered another devastating blow in May if 1981 when her brother, George Franconero, Jr., was gunned down in the driveway of his North Caldwell, New Jersey home as he was scraping ice from his car  Franconero, 40, was a former partner in the law office of then-New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne.  He had pleaded guilty to bank fraud charges and served as a government witness.  Police indicated that it was a mob killing.

    As result of all her trauma, Connie spent much time undergoing psychiatric treatment. Yest, she  resumed her singing career, even appearing on the American Bandstand 30th Anniversary Special. on October 30, 1981.  The revitalization of Connie's career, however, did not last long.  She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attempted suicide in 1984.  

    Connie resumed her recording and performing career in 1989.  She recorded a double album for Malaco Records entitled Where the Hits Are.  The album contained re-recordings of 18 of her biggest hits as well as six classics that Connie had wanted to record.  She continued performing right into the 21st century.  In late December of 2004, she headlined in Las Vegas for the first time since 1969.  In March and October 2007, she performed before capacity crowds at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.  On February 14, 2008, she appeared in concert in Manila, Philippines.  In 2010, she did a show at the Las Vegas Hilton with Dionne Warwick.

    Connie Francis has been married four teams, and all of her marriages were short-lived. The longest of those marriages lasted five years, while the shortest survived a mere four months.  In 1964, she was briefly married to Dick Kanellis, a press agent and entertainment director for the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas (now Planet Hollywood).

    In January of 1971, Connie wed Izzy Marion, the owner of a hair salon, but she divorced him ten months later.  In 1973, she married for the third time, to Joseph Garzilli, a restaurateur and the owner of a travel agency.  They adopted a baby boy named Joey, but divorced in 1977.  On June 27, 1985, Connie entered into her fourth marriage, this time to TV producer Bob Parkinson.  They divorced in late 1986.

    Singer Bobby Darin, of  "Mac the Knife" fame, was the great love of Connie's life, the one who got away. Connie told Fox News that she first met Bobby in 1956 when he came into her office one day to show her a song.  At first, she didn't get along with him, but they eventually developed a bond over their Hollywood dreams and aspirations.

    Bobby Darin and Connie

    The growing romance between Connie and Bobby never came to fruition, due to the interference of Connie's controlling father, George, who opposed the relationship because he viewed  Bobby as a threat to his daughter's career and reputation.  In an article for the website AmoMama, Daniella Segell wrote, "Connie and Bobby Darin met when they were both youngsters in the music industry.  When they met, Connie was beginning to excel in her career, which her father believed should be her sole focus."  

    Connie's dad controlled her career and, unfortunately, her personal life, with an iron hand.  According to Connie, her father had an intense dislike for Bobby.  "He even tried to shoot him," she explained to Fox News.  "He came with a gun in his pocket.  And Bobby had a bad heart.  He had rhematic fever as a child, which is why he died at the age of 37.   I was really afraid of my father retaliating against Bobby.  So I stayed from Bobby as far away as I could.  So during that period of time, we kept in touch through letters."

    In January of 2022, Connie's long-time partner, singer Tony Ferretti, passed away.  They had been together for 18 years.  Their romance began when they recorded some of her old music as duets, especially "You Made Me Love You."   

    In December of 2022, Connie Francis celebrated her 85th birthday with a magnificent party at her home in Parkland, Florida. Connie still has the support of numerous fans and family members. She proclaimed that her party must have been "the largest gathering of lifelong friends."  Note: Since Connie celebrated her 85th birthday in 2022, she must regard 1937 as the year of her birth.


    * Connie Francis became an advocate for the rights of victims of violent crime and for mental health awareness. In 1981, she joined the board of directors of the Crime Victims' Legal Advocacy Institute, which was founded in 1979 by presidential cousnsellor Edwin L. Meese.  

    In May of 2010. Connie was appointed National Spokesperson for the Trauma Campaign of Mental Health of America for the servicemen and women who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.  "That was important to me," she told Digital Journal.  "I spent eight years in a mental hospital, so it was very important for me to do something to help the mentally ill."

    * In August of 1959, at the suggestion of her father, Connie travelled to London and recorded an Italian album at the famous Abbey Road Studios.  The title of the album was Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites, and it was well-received.  It was released in November and included "Mama," which Connie claimed as her personal favourite in her extensive catalogue.

    Connie's father encouraged her to record in foreign languages.  Besides Italian and Hebrew, she's sung in German and Japanese, among other languages.

    * In 1960, Bobby Darin married actress Sandra Dee. Sandra and Bobby had a son, Dee, born in 1962.  They divorced in 1967.  On June 25, 1973, Bobby wed Andrea Yeager, a legal secretary whom he met in 1970.  In October 1973, the couple divorced amid Bobby's health problems.  Bobby died on December 20th of that year, when he was only 37 years old from the heart condition that plagued him for most of his life. He failed to take antibiotics to protect his heart prior to a dental visit.  As a result, he developed sepsis, a deadly systemic infection that weakened his body and affected one of his heart valves.

    It turn out that Bobby had saved all the letters that Connie had written him.  After Bobby's death, The Daily Mail reported that the letters had fallen into the possession of Bobby's brother, Gary Walden.  In 2016, Walden decided to sell some of  Bobby's memorabilia, including the love letters between his late sibling and Connie Francis.  The letters went on sale on eBay and Connie eventually got them back from a Virginia woman, a fan of Bobby's, who beat her out with a $1,000 bid.  Connie contacted the woman who won the bid, and she voluntarily gave the letters to her.

    * Connie formed Concetta Records, her own recording, so that her music wound be available to her fans worldwide.

    * Connie has written two autobiographies: Who's Sorry Now?, published in 1984, and Among My Souvenirs: The Real Story Vol. 1, published in 2017.

    * As far as I can determine, Connie Francis has not scheduled any tour dates for 2023.

    SOURCES: Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Connie Francis: American singer;" AmoMama (, "Singing Legend Connie Francis Turned 85 in 2022 - She Still Uses Lipstick, Dresses Smart & Lives in a Cozy House," by Wian Prinsloo, December 16, 2022; Fox News (, "Connie Francis reflects on her romance with Bobby Darin before his untimely death," by Stephanie Nolasco,  February 9, 2018; The Washington Post, "Connie Francis' Crusade, by Richard Harrington, December 16, 1981; Digital Journal, "Interview with Connie Francis: The First Lady of Rock and Roll," by Markos Papadatos, February 23, 2022;AmoMama (, "Connie  Francis' Father Saw the Love of Her Life as a 'Threat' and Went to Lengths to Keep Them Apart, Daniella Segell, September 21, 2021; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDB)

    - Joanne