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Article: Artists and Entertainers of the American West

Artists and Entertainers of the American West

Throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, methods of entertainment were much more limited than they are today. Most people got their entertainment through live performances and shows, which then led to television and film. Entertainers like Will Rogers and Jimmy Stewart used this as an opportunity to broadcast their talents to the masses.  

Born on November 4, 1879, Will Rogers became interested in cowboys, horses, and learning to rope from a very young age. Rogers had very impressive rope skills that led him to perform in many different Wild West shows throughout the United States. A true entertainer at heart, he became widely known and loved for his humor and social commentary, including poking fun at crowds and the current political climate. Rogers tragically died in a plane crash on August 15, 1935. 

This unique Will Rogers Autographed Collage piece features both a signature by Will Rogers and a Disney animation drawing depicting Mickey Mouse and the caricatured Will Rogers for the Disney short Mickey’s Gala PremierThe Disney short, Mickey’s Gala Premier, was a big success and featured over 40 celebrities of the 1930s. Released on July 1, 1933, the clip poked fun at the Hollywood lifestyle as Mickey Mouse’s feature film was released and the most famous names in Hollywood attended the viewing. At the end of the film, Will Rogers makes an appearance with his characteristic lasso, pulling Mickey onto the stage to be congratulated. Adored even by Disney studios, Will Rogers remains one of the most beloved entertainers in American history.

Jimmy Stewart was another entertainer adored by many. He was born on May 20, 1980, and was as a famous American actor known best for his portrayals of modest and morally sound characters. He was beloved in Hollywood for his roles in It’s a Wonderful LifeMr. Smith Goes to WashingtonAnatomy of a Murder, and The Philadelphia Story throughout his career. As World War II approached, Stewart enlisted in the Army Air Corps and rose to the rank of Colonel by the end of the conflict. During his time in the Air Corps, he logged over 1,800 hours of flight time in almost 20 bomber missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Croix de Guerre.

In his return to civilian life in 1945, the humble and admirable Stewart was adamant that his success in the military not be a promotional tactic for his acting career. He collaborated with directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Mann upon his return and his work with Mann proved him to be quite successful in the rugged Western roles. They produced 8 films together, 6 of which were Westerns. Our stunning Jimmy Stewart Collage features Stewart’s signature as well as a photo of the actor starring in Winchester ‘73, one of the 6 Westerns he collaborated on with Mann. The card, signed on 7/20/1939, reads “To Mae - Jimmy Stewart,” in his unique handwriting. In 1985, Stewart was awarded an honorary Academy Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. 

Many artists have been inspired by the Western landscapes and Native American and Hispanic cultures, including Edward S. Curtis, Ansel Adams, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Our impressive Georgia O'Keeffe Autograph and Ansel Adams Signed Postal Cover and Photograph features a first day of issue cover signed by Ansel Adams and a typed, signed letter from Georgia O’Keeffe to Reverend William J. Fletcher thanking him for some photographs he sent to her. 

Ansel Adams was born February 20, 1902 and became fascinated by the "untouched" wilderness and landscapes throughout the American West, specifically National Parks and other protected areas. His breathtaking black and white photographs helped elevate photography from a documentation tool to high art, also helping revive the idea that original photographic prints are artifacts that should be sold as art objects. In 1980 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.  

Georgia O'Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887 and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Art Students League in New York. In the summer of 1929 she made her first trip to New Mexico, where she fell in love with the Native American and Hispanic culture and wide open landscapes. Over the next two decades she spent her summers observing and painting her surroundings, finally making it her permanent home in 1949. 

Artists and entertainers continue to make such an impact on the culture and inspiration of others, making these signature collage pieces a great addition to any collection. 

Check out our other blog that talks about photographer Edward S. Curtis here

Check out other signature items we have available here! 

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