Tad Jones, Will Rogers Memorial Museums executive director, accepts a framed copy of the Official Program from the Xth Olympiad in Los Angeles, autographed by Will Rogers, from John Robb, who made the presentation in honor of his late father-in-law, Everett Edward “Bo” Munn, and Munns family.
’32 Olympic Program Given to Will Rogers Memorial Museum
Everett Edward “Bo” Munn, Sr., was just 18 when several of his family members traveled from Waverly, Neb., to Los Angeles, Calif., for the 1932 Summer Olympics.
Munn’s family presented a memory from the journey to the Will Rogers Memorial Museum this week. John Robb, from Alabama, delivered a framed copy of the Official Program from the Xth Olympiad in Los Angeles, autographed by Will Rogers, and a stadium pass, along with the story of his late wife’s family trip to the Olympics.
“It’s a piece of Will Rogers’ history that has not been represented in the collection until now,” said Museum Curator Jennifer Holt. “One day it will make a great starting point for an exhibit on Will Rogers’ love of sports and the famous athletes he knew,” she said adding, “for an 84-year-old document, the piece is in exceptional condition. The family took very good care of it.”
The family watched the events from premier seating located on the finish line, on tickets, which cost $35 for all events for the entire week.
The story goes that at the beginning of the week, the family recognized Will Rogers, seated just two rows away.
Bo’s sister, Marian, remarked repeatedly all week that they should ask Mr. Rogers for his autograph, according to family accounts. She was disappointed at the end of the week when she thought they were going home without it.
What she didn’t know was that Bo had quietly slipped away and asked Mr. Rogers to sign his 1932 Summer Olympic program, which he had happily done.
The autograph was kept by “Bo” throughout his life and at his death was given to his youngest daughter, Betty, John Robb’s wife. He said it was framed with the stadium pass and hung in their home about 25 years. When she passed this year, the family of four siblings — Betty Eugenia Munn Robb, Everett Edward “Nick” Munn Jr., Joanna Munn Seiber and Susan Munn Young — decided to donate the autographed copy to the Museum in her memory.
The Munn family may not have known at the time the role Will Rogers and some of his acting friends played in keeping the 1932 Olympic Games from being the Olympics that almost weren’t
Fearing no one would come because of the economic despair in the world, Will and his friends went on the first international radio hook-up to originate in LA to tout the games.
Some spoke in their native tongue — German, Russian, Italian, French and Tom Mix and Will for America.
It turned out the attendance was great and opened with more than 100,000 people paying $2 to crowd into the coliseum for the opening ceremony. Will hosted a luncheon and tour of Fox Studios, said to be a social highlight for women athletes.
Records show that about 1.25 million people attended events during the 16 days.