November 20, 1925: Humorist Will Rogers entertains at Duluth’s Armory

On this day in Duluth in 1925, humorist will Rogers entertained 3,000 residents of the Zenith City at the 1915 Duluth Armory. According to the Duluth News Tribune, “Will just grinned and talked and chewed his gum and swung his ropes, and grinned, and talked some more. And his audience just laughed and chuckled and giggled and applauded and continually called for more.” Rogers did his best to drop in some local topics, though how his comments resulted in roars of laughter are lost on us reading about the event some 90 or so years later. For example, the city had been discussing removing Point of Rocks, and the cowboy comedian opined that the same fellow who will drain the swamps in Florida and level mountains in California—popular ideas at the time idea put forth to create more land for development—would be needed to “cut down Point of Rocks.” He went on to say he was ”not going to knock this town; I never like to pick on a town when it’s down.” And then he picked on the town, mocking it for not being able to choose locations for its own city hall. He also mentioned it as a pity that the town’s only traffic light, at Second Avenue West and Superior Street “didn’t have any more lights to keep this poor, pitiful thing company.” For the most part, the article discussed Rogers’ constant gum chewing and mentioned that his column appeared in the newspaper once a week. On the same day 19 years later, actress Ingrid Bergman visited the Armory to kick off a War Loan Drive. The News Tribune spent most of the article describing Bergman’s appearance (“looking years younger than her 27”), the difference between Swedish girls and American girls, (“Swedish girls are less sophisticated and less artificial than American girls.”) While the article mentioned her “poise and composure,” it failed to explain to readers how they could help with the War Loan Drive.

Humorist Will Rogers.

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