Jump to Navigation

Charles "Buddy" Rogers

Film actor, band leader and philanthropist. Born: 1904. Died: 1999.

Buddy was raised in Olathe where his father was the "marrying judge" at the county seat and the editor of the Olathe Mirror newspaper. After graduation from Olathe High School Buddy attended the University of Kansas. He studied music and led a small dance band. Just before graduation in 1925 he was discovered by talent scouts from Paramount studios, a motion picture company. He then attended acting school and soon found himself in a silent movie with W. C. Fields entitled, "So's Your Old Man," filmed in New York.

Buddy was then sent to California and embarked on a movie career. He starred in the 1926 film "Wings."  It was the first film to win an Academy Award for best picture and is now considered a classic. Buddy would eventually appear in 39 films. He also resumed being a band leader.

In 1937 he and Mary Pickford, "America's Sweetheart" (he was known as "America's boyfriend") were married and continued to be married for the next 42 years until Mary passed away. They had two adopted children. During World War II Buddy served in the Navy as a flight instructor.

He was named the Native Sons and Daughters' Kansan of the Year in 1969. In 1986 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him the Jean Hersholdt Humanitarian Award for his humanitarian work. He was also awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Buddy enjoyed visiting Olathe, often remembering that his mother had told him that if he had stayed in Olathe he would have had better friends. He and his family contributed money to help establish the Buddy Rogers Family Community Theater in Olathe. His last film, "The Parson and the Outlaw," was premiered in Olathe in 1957.

Entry: Rogers, Charles "Buddy"

Author: G. Joseph Pierron

Author information: Judge Pierron serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals and has an interest in Kansas history.

Date Created: November 2012

Date Modified: August 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.