Charles "Buddy" Rogers
He starred in the first Hollywood film to earn an Academy Award for Best Picture, but Charles "Buddy" Rogers's most cherished role was as Mr. Mary Pickford. Scouted by Paramount in 1925, the surpassingly handsome university undergrad was introduced to moviegoers in comedies starring W. C. Fields and Clara Bow. Paramount brought him west in 1927, but prominent parts failed to materialize. Rogers was on the verge of quitting when director William Wellman cast him as a World War I fighter pilot in "Wings" (1927), whose innovation and realism were rewarded with the first Best Picture Oscar. Rogers found offscreen love in the arms of his "My Best Girl" (1927) co-star Mary Pickford, but he had to wait a decade for Pickford to divorce Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. In the interim, he led a dance band, debuted on Broadway, worked in England, and developed a cinematic reputation as America's Boyfriend, a distinction that netted him 20,000 fan letters a month. After his 1937 marriage to Pickford, Rogers withdrew from the limelight to produce films, to serve his country in World War II, and to entertain American troops during the Korean War. Rogers and Pickford remained one of Hollywood's longest-married couples, a union that lasted until her death in 1979. Devoted to philanthropic pursuits and preserving Pickford's legacy, Rogers enjoyed the quintessential Palm Springs retirement until his own passing in 1999 marked the final chapter of an American success story that could have been written only in Hollywood.