Will Rogers: was a Cherokee-American cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer, and actor. He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50
silent films and 21 "talkies"), and wrote more than 4,000 nationally-syndicated newspaper columns. Rogers died when his small airplane crashed near Barrow, Alaska Territory in 1935.
Rogers performed lariat feats in the "Early St. Louis" village and at a western show. His first date with Betty Blake at the 1904 Fair launched their marriage. Rogers began his vaudeville career in St. Louis. He later became the highest-paid actor in Hollywood in the 1930s.
Helen Keller: became the first deaf/blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author, as well as an advocate for people with disabilities. She was a suffragist, a pacifist, a radical socialist, and a birth control supporter. Ms. Keller visited the Fair on October 18, 1904; a “Helen Keller Day” was held to promote education of the deaf. Please check out more information on her in the Woman at the Fair section of this web site.
William Jennings Bryant: was a three-time Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States and one of the most popular speakers in American history. Bryant delivered a speech at the Fair’s Fourth of July celebration.
Guglielmo Marconi: Italian-Irish inventor best known for his development of a radio telegraph system. He shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun. he later became an active Italian Fascist, but later apologized for their ideology. He is considered the father of radio. Marconi visited the Fair to demonstrate the wireless transmitter and receiver.
Tom Mix: was born into a poor logging family and rose to become Hollywood’s first Western megastar. He starred in 336 films between 1910 and 1935, all but 9 of which were silent features. Tom and the Oklahoma Calvary Band performed at the St. Louis World's Fair. Mix was friends with Will Rogers.
Thomas Edison: was an American inventor and is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history, holding 1,093 U.S. patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Some of his inventions included: the phonograph and a long lasting light bulb. he was nicknamed- "The Wizard of Menlo Park." (Menlo Park, New Jersey). Edison was the first inventor to apply the principles of mass production to the process of invention
Edison attended the 1904 World's Fair quite often. He made sure all the electrical exhibits and those of his own inventions were set up properly as well as well-handled and presented by his staff.
Dr. William Key: was born a slave in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (1833); opened a hospital for horses, though he received no formal training. Finding a ill-fit colt, Key nursed him back to health and named him Beautiful Jim Key. Along with Albert Rogers, he toured the nation for nine years setting record attendance records everywhere, showcasing the horse's ability to read, write, spell, do mathematics, tell time, sort mail, cite biblical passages, and debate politics. See the Jim Key page on this sites' Pike attractions for more information on this remarkable man (and horse).
Lucille Mulhall: Born on October 21, 1885, Lucille was a famous trick rider and made her the first cowgirl. On November 12, a Wild West show was held on the fairgrounds in the large Livestock Forum. Lucille was one of nine featured acts (which did include Will Rogers).
She gave exhibitions of riding and would exhibit her famous high school horse, "Governor."
Scott Joplin: `the King of Ragtime,' was born in East Texas was classical trained at the piano. Traveling around the country, he settled in St. Louis, and engaged to compose write ragtime. At this point in history, the officials at the 1904 Fair decided that Ragtime was a bit `lowbrow.' So the style- which combined some classical, with the 2/4 time of the marching bands and the African-American experience; though purely American, it was deemed only worthy of the Pike (even though it was extremely popular around the country).
Joplin composed “ The Cascades - A Rag” in honor of the Fair. Joplin played his famous ragtime music often on the Pike. It seems that he at the very least visited the Fair to get his inspiration. His most well-known song even today- is `The Entertainer.' The Fair also inspired other ragtime composers, such as : Tom Turpin’s “St. Louis Rag” and James Scott’s “On the Pike.”
President Theodore Roosevelt: a vice-president, ascended to the presidency after McKinley was shot on the steps of the Music Hall at the Buffalo Exposition in 1901. Roosevelt spoke at the dedication ceremonies on April 30, 1903 and returned for a two-day visit in November 1904. Elected to the presidency in his own right in 1904, he avoided appearing at the the Fair for fearing exploitation of political purposes. Roosevelt had avoided the Fair prior to election day.
David Francis urged the President to visit and on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, (which was called (President’s Day at the Fair), Roosevelt, his wife and young daughter Alice visited the Fair. Because of McKinley's assassination, security for the President's visit was tight.