W. C. Fields

Born Jan 29, 1880

William Claude Dukenfield, better known as W. C. Fields, was an American comedian, actor, juggler and writer. Fields was known for his comic persona as a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist who remained a sympathetic character despite his snarling contempt for dogs, children and women. The characterization he portrayed in films and on radio was so strong it became generally identified with Fields himself.… Read More

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1880 Birth Born on January 29, 1880.


1893 13 Years Old In 1893 he worked briefly at the Strawbridge and Clothier department store, and in an oyster house. … Read More
1898 18 Years Old Inspired by the success of the "Original Tramp Juggler", James Edward Harrigan, Fields adopted a similar costume of scruffy beard and shabby tuxedo and entered vaudeville as a genteel "tramp juggler" in 1898, using the name W. C. Fields. … Read More


1900 20 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1900, seeking to distinguish himself from the many "tramp" acts in vaudeville, he changed his costume and makeup, and began touring as "The Eccentric Juggler". … Read More
1903 23 Years Old He became a headliner in North America and Europe, and toured Australia and South Africa in 1903. … Read More
1905 25 Years Old In 1905 Fields made his Broadway debut in a musical comedy, The Ham Tree. … Read More


1913 33 Years Old In 1913 he performed on a bill with Sarah Bernhardt (who regarded Fields as "an artiste who could not fail to please the best class of audience") first at the New York Palace, and then in England in a royal performance for the king and queen.
He continued touring in vaudeville until 1915.


1924 44 Years Old His stage commitments prevented him from doing more movie work until 1924, when he played a supporting role in Janice Meredith, a Revolutionary War romance. … Read More
1926 46 Years Old 1 More Event
Fields' 1926 film, which included a silent version of the porch sequence that would later be expanded in the sound film It's a Gift (1934), had only middling success at the box office. … Read More
1928 48 Years Old Poole died of complications of alcoholism in October 1928, and Fields contributed to her son's support until he was 19 years of age.


1932 52 Years Old 1 More Event
In the sound era, Fields appeared in thirteen feature films for Paramount Pictures, beginning with Million Dollar Legs in 1932. … Read More
1933 53 Years Old 1 More Event
A shaky outtake from the film, allegedly the only moving image record of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, was later revealed to have been faked as a publicity stunt for the movie.
1934 54 Years Old His 1934 classic It's a Gift included his stage sketch of trying to escape his nagging family by sleeping on the back porch and being bedeviled by noisy neighbors and salesmen. … Read More
1935 55 Years Old He achieved a career ambition by playing the character Mr. Micawber, in MGM's David Copperfield in 1935.
1936 56 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1936, Fields re-created his signature stage role in Poppy for Paramount Pictures.
By the following year he recovered sufficiently to make one last film for Paramount, The Big Broadcast of 1938, but his troublesome behavior discouraged other producers from hiring him.
1939 59 Years Old Fields' renewed popularity from his radio broadcasts with Bergen & McCarthy earned him a contract with Universal Pictures in 1939. … Read More


1940 60 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1940, Fields made My Little Chickadee, with Mae West, and The Bank Dick, perhaps his best-known film, in which he has the following exchange with bartender Shemp Howard: … Read More
1941 61 Years Old 1 More Event
On March 15, 1941 while Fields was out of town, Christopher Quinn, the two-year-old son of his neighbors, actor Anthony Quinn and his wife Katherine DeMille, drowned in a lily pond on Fields' property. … Read More
1945 65 Years Old His last film, the musical revue Sensations of 1945, was released in late 1944. … Read More
1946 66 Years Old 1 More Event
He guested occasionally on radio as late as 1946, often with Edgar Bergen. … Read More
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