~W. C. Fields~

Born: January 29, 1880 in Darby, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: December 25, 1946 in Pasadena, California, USA
~Biography~
A Charles Dickens character come to life, American comedian W. C. Fields (born William Claude
Dukenfield) ran away from home at age 11. Continuous exposure to cold weather gave his voice its
distinctive hoarse timbre, while constant fights with bigger kids gave Fields his trademarked red, battered
nose. Perfecting his skills as a juggler until his fingers bled, Fields became a vaudeville headliner before
the age of 21, traveling the world with his pantomimed comedy juggling act. After making his Broadway
debut in the musical comedy The Ham Tree (1906), "W.C. Fields -- Tramp Juggler," as he then billed
himself, achieved the pinnacle of stage stardom by signing on with impresario Flo Ziegfeld. Somewhere
along the line the comedian decided to speak on stage, to the everlasting gratitude of Fields fans
everywhere. Though his flowery, pompous comic dialogue would seem to have been indispensable, Fields
did rather well in silent films (the first was the 1915 one-reeler Pool Sharks) thanks to his keen juggler's
dexterity. In 1923, Fields took Broadway by storm with a part specially written for him in the musical
Poppy. As larcenous snake-oil peddler Eustace McGargle, the comedian cemented his familiar stage and
screen persona as Confidence Man Supreme. Poppy was filmed as Sally of the Sawdust by director D.W.
Griffith in 1925; incredible as it may seem, Fields was not the first choice for the film, but once ensconced
in celluloid (to use a Fields-like turn of phrase), he became a favorite of small-town and rural movie fans
-- even though it was those very fans who were often the targets of Field's brand of social satire.

From 1930 through 1934, Fields appeared in talking feature films and short subjects, truly hitting his
stride in It's a Gift (1934), which contained his famous "sleeping on the back porch" stage sketch. By this
time, audiences responded to his characterization of the bemused, beleaguered everyman, attacked from
all sides by nagging wives, bratty children, noisy neighbors and pesky strangers. His film characters also
embraced his offstage adoration of alcoholic beverages (Fields was one of the more conspicuous and
prolific drinkers of his time). In private life, Fields was perhaps Hollywood's most enigmatic personality.
He was simultaneously an inveterate ad-libber and improviser who meticulously prepared his ad-libs and
improvisations on paper ahead of time; a frequently nasty, obstinate man who was surrounded by a
strong core of loyal and lasting friends. Beloved by most of his fellow actors, W.C. Fields was a man who
often showed up late and hung over on the film set, but who never missed a performance and finished all
his films on schedule and under budget.


Though most fans prefer Fields' freewheeling starring comedies, which he wrote under such colorful
pseudonyms as "Otis J. Criblecoblis" and "Mahatma Kane Jeeves," he also shone in at least one prestige
picture, MGM's David Copperfield (directed by George Cukor, wherein Fields portrayed Mr. Micawber. A
serious illness curtailed Fields' film work in 1936, but he made a comeback trading insults with
ventriloquist's dummy Charlie McCarthy on radio in 1938. Fields' final films for Universal are a mixed
bag; teaming with Mae West in My Little Chickadee (1940), was more surreal than funny, and Never Give
a Sucker an Even Break (1941) makes very little sense, but The Bank Dick (1940), starring Fields as
Egbert Souse is an unadulterated classic. Too ill to contribute anything but guest appearances in his final
films, W. C. Fields died at age 67 on the one holiday he claimed he despised: Christmas Day.

Biography by Hal Erickson, AllMovie.com
~Filmography~
~Actor~

Sensations of 1945 (1944) ... W.C. Fields
Song of the Open Road (1944) ... W. C. Fields
Follow the Boys (1944) ... W. C. Fields
Tales of Manhattan (1942) ... Professor Pufflewhistle (Fields sequence) (uncredited)
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) ... The Great Man
The Bank Dick (1940) ... Egbert Sousé
My Little Chickadee (1940) ... Cuthbert J. Twillie

You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939) ... Larson E. Whipsnade
The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938) ... T. Frothingill Bellows / S.B. Bellows
Poppy (1936) ... Prof. Eustace P. McGargle
Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935) ... Ambrose Wolfinger
Mississippi (1935) ... Commodore Jackson
David Copperfield (1935) ... Micawber
It's a Gift (1934) ... Harold Bissonette
Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1934) ... Mr. Stubbins
The Old Fashioned Way (1934) ... The Great McGonigle / Squire Cribbs in 'The Drunkard'
You're Telling Me! (1934) ... Sam Bisbee
Six of a Kind (1934) ... Sheriff John Hoxley
Alice in Wonderland (1933) ... Humpty-Dumpty
Tillie and Gus (1933) ... Augustus Winterbottom
The Barber Shop (Short) (1933) ... Cornelius O'Hare
International House (1933) ... Professor Henry R. Quail
The Pharmacist (Short) (1933) ... Mr. Dilweg
The Fatal Glass of Beer (Short) (1933) ... Pa Snavely
The Dentist (Short) (1932) ... Dentist
If I Had a Million (1932) ... Rollo La Rue
Million Dollar Legs (1932) ... The President
Her Majesty, Love (1931) ... Bela Toerrek - Lia's Father
The Golf Specialist (Short) (1930) ... J. Effingham Bellweather

Fools for Luck (1928) .... Richard Whitehead
Tillie's Punctured Romance (1928) .... Ring Mister
Two Flaming Youths (1927) .... Gabby Gilfoil
Running Wild (1927/I) .... Elmer Finch
The Potters (1927) .... Pa Potter
So's Your Old Man (1926) .... Samuel Bisbee
It's the Old Army Game (1926) .... Elmer Prettywillie
... aka The Old Army Game (USA: review title)
That Royle Girl (1925) .... Her Father
Sally of the Sawdust (1925) .... Professor Eustance McGargle
Janice Meredith (1924) .... A British Sergeant
... aka The Beautiful Rebel
His Lordship's Dilemma (1915) .... Remittance man
Pool Sharks (1915)

~Writer~

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (original story - as Otis Criblecoblis) (1941)
The Bank Dick (original screen play - as Mahatma Kane Jeeves) (1940)
My Little Chickadee (original screen play) (1940)

You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (story - as Charles Bogle) (1939)
The Big Broadcast of 1938 (contributing writer - uncredited) (1938)
Man on the Flying Trapeze (from a story by - as Charles Bogle) (1935)
It's a Gift (based upon a story by - as Charles Bogle) (1934)
The Old Fashioned Way (from a story by - as Charles Bogle) (1934)
You're Telling Me! (uncredited) (1934)
Tillie and Gus (uncredited) (1933)
The Barber Shop (Short) (story) (1933)
The Pharmacist (Short) (story) (1933)
The Fatal Glass of Beer (Short) (uncredited) (1933)
Too Many Highballs (Short) (story - uncredited) (1933)
The Singing Boxer (Short) (writer) (1933)
The Dentist (Short) (uncredited) (1932)
The Golf Specialist (Short) (uncredited) (1930)
The Family Ford (Short) (story) (1930)

It's the Old Army Game (1926) (play "The Comic Supplement")
... aka The Old Army Game (USA: review title)
Pool Sharks (1915) (writer)

~Director~

Man on the Flying Trapeze (uncredited) (1935)