b. Charles Rogers, 13 August 1904, Olathe, Kansas City, Kansas, USA, d. 21 April 1999, Palm Springs, California, USA. Rogers established his California Cavaliers dance band in New York City in the late 20s, although his main priority remained a film career that began with 1926’s Fascinating Youth. Rogers moved into talkies in popular features with Nancy Carroll, and in the 30s employed his pleasant singing voice in several film musicals. His sidemen in the California Cavaliers included Corky Cornelius, Andrew McKinney, George Macy, Tommy Reo, Mark Bennett, Jack Henderson, Ben Freeman, Herman Stanchfield, Steve Benorick, John Nicolini, Joe Mooney, Bob Domenick, Tony Federici, Russ Isaacs, Ernie Mathias, Murray Williams and drummer Gene Krupa. Though Rogers largely handled male lead vocals himself, Bob Hannon, Jack Douglas, Marvel Maxwell (aka Marilyn Maxwell) and Liz Tilton were also employed at various times. Rogers prided himself on being the only band leader able to play each and every instrument in his orchestra, which became something of a party turn at their bookings. Recordings were issued on Vocalion Records and Victor Records, including the band’s theme tune, ‘My Buddy’. The band continued as an active unit through the 30s and early 40s, including tours of England and the east coast of America. Following a switch in direction his orchestra began billing itself as ‘the newest thing in swing’. Rogers married film star Mary Pickford in June 1937, the culmination of a long love affair that began when they co-starred in My Best Girl (1927), although Pickford remained married to Douglas Fairbanks until 1936. Pickford acted as party host when his orchestra played its first southern California dates in May 1938. After the war, in which he served as a lieutenant in the naval air corps, Rogers turned his back on band leading to continue his acting and look after various business investments. Pickford died in 1979, after which Rogers remarried and settled in Palm Springs, from where he ran the charitable Mary Pickford Foundation.
Share this page