One of the most tragic accidental deaths of an American in the past century occurred 75 years ago today when a light plane helmed by famed pilot Wiley Post crashed in Alaska killing him -- and the man often described as "the most popular" American of his time, Will Rogers. The phrase "nation mourned" is often tossed about carelessly but in this case it was true. Historians claimed it was greatest outpouring of genuine affection since Lincoln passed away. NBC and CBS radio went off the air for 30 minutes in mourning and movie screens all over the country darkened their screens for awhile.
In the wreckage of the plane in Alaska was found in his typewriter a sheet of paper with the beginning of one last column: "Now I must get back to advising my Democrats."
Greg Mitchell studied Rogers' papers, visited his home and interviewed his son for his book on Upton Sinclair's race for governor of California in 1934, "The Campaign of the Century."