W. C. Fields
Actor
W. C. Fields
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.
Biography
W. C. Fields's personal information overview.
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Popular photos of W. C. Fields
News
News abour W. C. Fields from around the web
Construction underway at Disney park - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
The entry corridor to Disney California Adventure closed on Monday as part of the theme park's $1-billion makeover, but a gateway to the rest of the theme park was open to guests Thursday
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See which celebrities have gone to Disney parks - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
Many celebrities hope to visit Disneyland or California Adventure without fanfare, but they get caught on camera, like Jennifer Lopez or The Rock did recently. Sometimes, outside professional
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Obits: Jane W. Fields - Dover Post
Google News - over 5 years
By Anonymous Jane W. Fields passed away Wednesday, August 24 at the Delaware Hospice Center, Milford. She was 71. Jane was born on April 17, 1940 in Farmville, Virginia, daughter of the late Courtney and Alene (Mitchell) Wright
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Which Disneyland attractions do you miss? - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
Many of the original rides and attractions that debuted when the theme park opened in 1955 are still there. The trio of audio-animatronic alligators was known as the Swamp Boys. The singling gators were
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Construction to reroute Disney park entrance - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
The original entrance to the theme park is being shuttered Monday as part of its $1 billion makeover. Disney spokeswoman Erin Glover said the Sunshine Plaza area will be closed to allow Disney Imagineers
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Fans dive into Disney expo - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
The will-call both for Disney's D23 Expo opened at noon on Thursday at the Anaheim Convention Center, and by 12:30 pm the line was out the door. The convention, which runs through Sunday, is hosted by D23, Disney's official fan club
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Brea's city manager gets raise to $300000 - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
BREA – The City Council approved a raise in pay and benefits for City Manager Tim O'Donnell that puts his total compensation at more than $300000 a year. The council voted 3-2 in favor of the increase at
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Harold W. Fields - Times Record News
Google News - over 5 years
Services will be at 10 am Friday at Wells Chapel, 811 Woods St., with the Rev. Chiquita Brown, pastor, officiating. Services are under the direction of Wells Funeral Home of Wichita Falls. Survivors include one daughter, Suzanne Autry of Wichita Falls;
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Disneyland ride gets new shrubbery - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
Topiaries have been part of "itsasmallworld" since the ride debuted at Disneyland in 1966, but today's plants are not the originals. Karen Hedges, director of Horticulture and Resort Enhancement,
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Mark a trip to Disneyland with a button - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
The park promoted that theme beginning in 1987 after Super Bowl XXI. New York Giants quarterback Phil Sims was the first, and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers the most recent,
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Disneyland tour follows Walt Disney's journey - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
A tour of Disneyland from the perspective of Walt Disney ends with the guide quoting a newspaper article describing Disney's success as a "product of luck." The 180-minute tour, titled "A Walk in Walt's
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Dale W. Fields Sr., 74 - Kitsap Sun
Google News - over 5 years
By Reader Submitted Dale passed away July 14, 2011 at University of WA Medical Center surrounded by his family, following a valiant struggle with cancer. Dale was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He served nine years in the Navy during the Korean War
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Entrance to Disney park set to change - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
Disney California Adventure is unveiling a new entrance today as part of the theme park's $1 billion makeover. Disney spokesman John McClintock said the new entrance, which has been hidden behind a
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Disney Hawaiian resort model villa on display - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
Models of the villas at the soon-to-be-opened Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa are available for viewing in the Disneyland Resort. The model rooms are at at the Disney Vacation Club Preview Center,
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Disney ride closed until September - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
The Matterhorn Bobsleds – the popular, iconic roller coast that is one of the few Disneyland landmarks that can be spotted from outside the park – has closed and will remain shuttered until Sept
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New half marathon medal unveiled - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
Disneyland Resort unveiled the medal that participants in the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon will receive when the finish the race, set for Jan. 29. The gold medal, about 3-4 inches square,
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Device gives vision-impaired tour of Disneyland - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
A new program that gives descriptions of outdoor areas in Disneyland for visually impaired guests was launched Wednesday. The program is part of the Enhanced Audio Description, a program on a hand-held
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of W. C. Fields
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1946
    Age 66
    He guested occasionally on radio as late as 1946, often with Edgar Bergen.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly before his death that year, Fields recorded a spoken-word album, including his "Temperance Lecture" and "The Day I Drank a Glass of Water", at Les Paul's studio, where Paul had installed his new multi-track recorder. The session was arranged by Paul's old Army pal Bill Morrow, one of Fields' radio writers. It was Fields' last performance. Listening to one of Paul's experimental multi-track recordings, Fields remarked "The music you're making sounds like an octopus. Like a guy with a million hands. I've never heard anything like it." Paul was amused, and named his new machine OCT, short for octopus. Fields spent the last 22 months of his life at the Las Encinas Sanatorium in Pasadena, California.
  • 1945
    Age 65
    His last film, the musical revue Sensations of 1945, was released in late 1944.
    More Details Hide Details Fields' vision and memory had deteriorated to the point that he read his lines from large-print blackboards.
  • 1941
    Age 61
    In a 1994 episode of the Biography television series, Fields' 1941 co-star Gloria Jean recalled her conversations with Fields at his home.
    More Details Hide Details She described him as kind and gentle in personal interactions, and believed he yearned for the family environment he never experienced as a child.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Grief-stricken over the tragedy, he had the pond filled in. Fields had a substantial library in his home. Although a staunch atheist—or perhaps because of it—he studied theology and owned several volumes on the subject. According to a popular story (possibly apocryphal, according to biographer James Curtis), Fields once told someone who caught him reading a Bible that he was "looking for loopholes".
  • FIFTIES
  • 1940
    Age 60
    During the 1940 presidential campaign, Fields wrote a book entitled Fields for President, consisting of humorous essays in the form of a campaign speech.
    More Details Hide Details Dodd, Mead and Company published it in 1940, with illustrations by Otto Soglow. In 1971, when Fields was seen as an anti-establishment figure, Dodd, Mead issued a reprint, illustrated with photographs of Fields. Fields' film career slowed considerably in the 1940s. His illnesses confined him to brief guest-star appearances in other people's films. An extended sequence in 20th Century Fox's Tales of Manhattan (1942) was cut from the original release of the film and later reinstated for some home video releases. The scene features a temperance meeting with society people at the home of a rich woman, played by Margaret Dumont, in which Fields finds that the punch has been spiked, resulting in a room full of drunken guests and a very happy Fields. He performed his famous billiard table routine one more time for Follow the Boys, an all-star entertainment revue for the Armed Forces. (Despite the charitable nature of the movie, Fields was paid $15,000 for his appearance; he was never able to perform in person for the armed services.) In Song of the Open Road (1944), Fields juggled for a few moments, remarking, "This used to be my racket."
    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:
    More Details Hide Details Fields fought with studio producers, directors, and writers over the content of his films. He was determined to make a movie his way, with his own script and staging, and his choice of supporting players. Universal finally gave him the chance, and the resulting film, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), is a masterpiece of absurd humor in which Fields appeared as himself, "The Great Man". Universal's singing star Gloria Jean played opposite Fields, and his cronies Leon Errol and Franklin Pangborn served as his comic foils. But the film Fields delivered was so surreal that Universal recut and reshot parts of it, then quietly released both the film and Fields. Sucker was Fields' last starring film. Fields often fraternized at his home with actors, directors, and writers who shared his fondness for good company and good liquor. John Barrymore, Gene Fowler, and Gregory La Cava were a few of his intimates.
  • 1939
    Age 59
    Fields' renewed popularity from his radio broadcasts with Bergen & McCarthy earned him a contract with Universal Pictures in 1939.
    More Details Hide Details His first feature for Universal, You Can't Cheat an Honest Man, carried on the Fields - McCarthy rivalry.
  • 1938
    Age 58
    During his recovery from illness Fields reconciled with his estranged wife, and he established a close relationship with his son after Claude's marriage in 1938.
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    In 1938 he was chronically ill, and suffering from delirium tremens.
    More Details Hide Details Physically unable to work in films, Fields was off the screen for more than a year. During his absence he recorded a brief speech for a radio broadcast. His familiar, snide drawl registered so well with listeners that he quickly became a popular guest on network radio shows. Although his radio work was not as demanding as motion-picture production, Fields insisted on his established movie-star salary of $5,000 per week. He joined ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and Bergen's dummy Charlie McCarthy on The Chase and Sanborn Hour for weekly insult-comedy routines. Fields would twit Charlie about his being made of wood: When Fields would refer to McCarthy as a "woodpecker's pin-up boy" or a "termite's flophouse," Charlie would fire back at Fields about his drinking:
    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.
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  • 1936
    Age 56
    In 1936, Fields' heavy drinking precipitated a significant decline in his health.
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    In 1936, Fields re-created his signature stage role in Poppy for Paramount Pictures.
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  • 1935
    Age 55
    He achieved a career ambition by playing the character Mr. Micawber, in MGM's David Copperfield in 1935.
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  • 1934
    Age 54
    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.
    More Details Hide Details That film, like You're Telling Me! and Man on the Flying Trapeze, ended happily with a windfall profit that restored his standing in his screen families.
  • 1933
    Age 53
    Fields met Carlotta Monti (1907–1993) in 1933, and the two began a sporadic relationship that lasted until his death in 1946.
    More Details Hide Details Monti had small roles in two of Fields' films, and in 1971 wrote a memoir, W.C. Fields and Me, which was made into a motion picture at Universal Studios in 1976. Fields was listed in the 1940 census as single and living at 2015 DeMille Drive (Cecil B. DeMille lived at 2000, the only other address on the street). Fields' screen character often expressed a fondness for alcohol, a prominent component of the Fields legend. Fields never drank in his early career as a juggler, because he did not want to impair his functions while performing. Eventually, the loneliness of constant travel prompted him to keep liquor in his dressing room as an inducement for fellow performers to socialize with him on the road. Only after he became a Follies star and abandoned juggling did Fields begin drinking regularly. His role in Paramount Pictures' International House (1933), as an aviator with an unquenchable taste for beer, did much to establish Fields' popular reputation as a prodigious drinker. Studio publicists promoted this image, as did Fields himself in press interviews.
    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.
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  • 1932
    Age 52
    In 1932 and 1933, Fields made four short subjects for comedy pioneer Mack Sennett, distributed through Paramount Pictures.
    More Details Hide Details These shorts, adapted with few alterations from Fields' stage routines and written entirely by himself, were described by Simon Louvish as "the 'essence' of Fields". The first of them, The Dentist, is unusual in that Fields portrays an entirely unsympathetic character: he cheats at golf, assaults his caddy, and treats his patients with unbridled callousness. William K. Everson says that the cruelty of this comedy made it "hardly less funny", but that "Fields must have known that The Dentist presented a serious flaw for a comedy image that was intended to endure", and showed a somewhat warmer persona in his subsequent Sennett shorts. The popular success of his next feature film, International House (1933) established him as a major star.
    In the sound era, Fields appeared in thirteen feature films for Paramount Pictures, beginning with Million Dollar Legs in 1932.
    More Details Hide Details In that year he also was featured in a sequence in the anthology film If I Had a Million.
  • FORTIES
  • 1928
    Age 48
    Poole died of complications of alcoholism in October 1928, and Fields contributed to her son's support until he was 19 years of age.
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  • 1926
    Age 46
    Fields' relationship with Poole lasted until 1926.
    More Details Hide Details In 1927, he made a negotiated payment to her of $20,000 upon her signing an affidavit declaring that "W. C. Fields is NOT the father of my child".
    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.
    More Details Hide Details After Fields' next two features for Paramount failed to produce hits, the studio teamed him with Chester Conklin for three features which were commercial failures and are now lost. Fields wore a scruffy clip-on mustache in all of his silent films. According to the film historian William K. Everson, he perversely insisted on wearing the conspicuously fake-looking mustache because he knew it was disliked by audiences. Fields wore it in his first sound film, The Golf Specialist (1930)—a two-reeler that faithfully reproduces a sketch he had introduced in 1918 in the Follies—and finally discarded it after his first sound feature film, Her Majesty, Love (1931), his only Warner Bros. production.
  • 1924
    Age 44
    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.
    More Details Hide Details He reprised his Poppy role in a silent-film adaptation, retitled Sally of the Sawdust (1925) and directed by D. W. Griffith. His next starring role was in the Paramount Pictures film It's the Old Army Game (1926), which featured his friend Louise Brooks, later a screen legend for her role in G. W. Pabst's Pandora's Box (1929) in Germany.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1915
    Age 35
    In 1915, Fields starred in two short comedies, Pool Sharks and His Lordship's Dilemma, filmed in New York.
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    His stage costume from 1915 onwards featured a top hat, cut-away coat and collar, and a cane—an appearance remarkably similar to the comic strip character Ally Sloper, who may have been the inspiration for Fields' costume, according to Roger Sabin.
    More Details Hide Details The Sloper character may in turn have been inspired by Dickens' Mr Micawber, whom Fields later played on film.
    Beginning in 1915 he appeared on Broadway in Florenz Ziegfeld's Ziegfeld Follies revue.
    More Details Hide Details Therein, he delighted audiences with a wild billiards skit, complete with bizarrely shaped cues and a custom-built table used for a number of hilarious gags and surprising trick shots. (His pool game is reproduced, in part, in some of his films, notably in Six of a Kind 1934.) The act was a success, and Fields starred in the Follies from 1916 to 1922, not as a juggler but as a comedian in ensemble sketches. In addition to multiple editions of the Follies, Fields starred in the Broadway musical comedy Poppy (1923), wherein he perfected his persona as a colorful small-time con man.
    He continued touring in vaudeville until 1915.
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  • 1913
    Age 33
    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.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1905
    Age 25
    In 1905 Fields made his Broadway debut in a musical comedy, The Ham Tree.
    More Details Hide Details His role in the show required him to deliver lines of dialogue, which he had never before done onstage. He later said, "I wanted to become a real comedian, and there I was, ticketed and pigeonholed as merely a comedy juggler."
  • 1903
    Age 23
    He became a headliner in North America and Europe, and toured Australia and South Africa in 1903.
    More Details Hide Details When Fields played for English-speaking audiences, he found he could get more laughs by adding muttered patter and sarcastic asides to his routines. According to W. Buchanan-Taylor, a performer who saw Fields' performance in an English music hall, Fields would "reprimand a particular ball which had not come to his hand accurately", and "mutter weird and unintelligible expletives to his cigar when it missed his mouth".
  • TEENAGE
  • 1900
    Age 20
    Fields married a fellow vaudevillian, chorus girl Harriet "Hattie" Hughes (1879 - 1963), on April 8, 1900.
    More Details Hide Details She became part of Fields' stage act, appearing as his assistant, whom he would entertainingly blame whenever he missed a trick. Hattie was well educated and tutored Fields in reading and writing during their travels. Fields became an enthusiastic reader and habitually traveled with a trunkful of books that included grammar books, translations of Homer and Ovid, and works by authors ranging from Shakespeare to Dickens to Twain. The couple had a son, William Claude Fields, Jr. (July 28, 1904 - February 16, 1971) and although Fields was an avowed atheist—who, according to James Curtis, "regarded all religions with the suspicion of a seasoned con man"—he yielded to Hattie's wish to have their son baptized. By 1907 he and Hattie separated; she had been pressing him to stop touring and settle into a respectable trade, but he was unwilling to give up show business. They never divorced. Until his death, Fields continued to correspond with Hattie and voluntarily sent her a weekly stipend.
    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".
    More Details Hide Details He manipulated cigar boxes, hats, and other objects in what appears to have been a unique and fresh act, parts of which are reproduced in some of his films, notably in The Old Fashioned Way (1934). By the early 1900s, while touring, he was regularly called the world's greatest juggler.
  • 1898
    Age 18
    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.
    More Details Hide Details His family supported his ambitions for the stage and saw him off on the train for his first stage tour. To conceal a stutter, Fields did not speak onstage.
  • 1893
    Age 13
    In 1893 he worked briefly at the Strawbridge and Clothier department store, and in an oyster house.
    More Details Hide Details Fields later embellished stories of his childhood, depicting himself as a runaway who lived by his wits on the streets of Philadelphia from an early age, but his home life seems to have been reasonably happy. He had already discovered in himself a facility for juggling, and a performance he witnessed at a local theater inspired him to dedicate substantial time to perfecting his juggling. At age 17, he was living with his family and performing a juggling act at church and theater shows. In 1904 Fields' father visited him for two months in England while he was performing there in music halls. Fields enabled his father to retire, purchased him a summer home, and encouraged his parents and siblings to learn to read and write, so they could communicate with him by letter.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1880
    Age 0
    Born on January 29, 1880.
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