He was born on election day in 1879, in a small town called Oologah in Indian Territory. He was one of eight children, and he spent his youth riding horses and watching the sunset on golden wheat fields.
He was born restless. In 1898 he left school to work as a cowboy in Texas. Before he was 20, he'd traveled around the globe. In 1902 he landed in South Africa. Later, he joined the circus, visiting Australia and New Zealand. He earned his way performing rope tricks. Once in a while, he threw in a homespun line. His act quickly became a hit, and it didn't take long before he found himself back in Chicago, appearing on the vaudeville stage.
In 1908 he married the love of his life, Betty Blake. By 1916 he was appearing nightly with the Ziegfeld Follies. By 1918 he'd starred in the first of seventy movies. And by 1919 he'd published two books.
He was our court jester. He made us laugh at ourselves. He entertained royalty and ruffians alike. He joked about the politicians and patriarchs of his day. He was good natured, gentle and wise beyond his years. He was an honored guest - on both sides of the aisle - in Washington, DC.