Institute FAQ

What is the Will Rogers Institute?

The Will Rogers Institute is a program of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, a charity named after one of the greatest humanitarians, philanthropists and entertainers that ever lived, Will Rogers. Originally a hospital for tuberculosis-stricken Vaudevillians, the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital (established in 1936) became a national training facility for doctors treating patients with tuberculosis. Building on that foundation, the Will Rogers Institute is today a national charitable health program focused on research of debilitating lung disorders, medical school training fellowships, distribution of free health education materials to the general public. The Institute recently became a national leader in providing life saving neonatal ventilator equipment to hospitals across the country.

How Did It All Begin?

The Will Rogers Institute takes its name from one of America’s best-loved entertainers who was killed in a plane crash in 1935. In 1936, the Will Rogers Hospital was established to be the country’s leading facility in treating tuberculosis and a national resource for public education.

Does the tuberculosis hospital still exist today?

The hospital was a leading treatment center for tuberculosis and instrumental in finding a cure. The doors of Will Rogers Hospital closed in 1975. After several attempts of ownership, today the hospital is known as Lake Saranac Village at Will Rogers. The Village is a fully functional retirement home and hospital, and is considered a historical landmark. Saranac Village at Will Rogers is a seventy unit senior community created especially for people who relish self-reliance, independence and excellent service.

What programs does the WRI currently sponsor?

The Institute is sponsoring research for lung disorders, medical school fellowships, pulmonary programs and rehabilitation, and neonatal ventilators at universities and medical centers. Please visit the Research & Fellowship sections for more information.

How do you raise funds for the Institute?

Each summer in movie theaters across the country, Will Rogers Institute embarks upon a special fundraising event – Summer Theatrical PSA – a time-honored tradition that began back in 1936 and starred Jimmy Cagne, Humphrey Bogart, and Bette Davis. Throughout the decades a variety of celebrities, including Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Jason Alexander, Anthony Hopkins, Tommy Lee Jones, The Rock, Sylvester Stallone and Geena Davis have hosted the trailer.

What information is available to the public?

The Institute provides free educational booklets on pulmonary diseases and disorders. Please click here to order free booklets.

Do you still have programs available for members of the entertainment industry?

Yes, the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Assistance Fund assists members of the entertainment industry with medical rehabilitative needs (physical, occupational, COPD, and therapy programs).

Does the Will Rogers Institute financially support any political or environmental advocacy groups?

No, all funding is targeted towards medical research, educational materials and quality of life resources for individuals.