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W.C. Fields

W. C. Fields was a American comedian and actor. Fields created one of the great American comic personas of the first half of the 20th century – a misanthrope who teetered on the edge of buffoonery but never quite fell in, an egotist blind to his own failings, a charming drunk, and a man who hated women, children and dogs, unless they were the wrong sort of women.

Born as William Claude Dukenfield, Fields ran away from home at age 11 and entered vaudeville. By age 21 he was traveling as a comedy juggling act, and in 1906 he made his Broadway debut in the musical comedy The Ham Tree, signing with impresario Flo Ziegfeld.

Like many vaudevillians, Fields worked in silent films and one-reelers, but he first hit big fame in 1923 in the Broadway musical Poppy, where he perfected his persona as an oily, failed confidence man. Fields later appeared in talking feature films and short subjects, including the 1934 gem It's a Gift, which contained his stage sketch about trying to sleep on the back porch in the midst of nagging family and noisy neighbors.

He also played one of Charles Dickens' greatest characters, Mr. Micawber, in MGM's David Copperfield, directed by George Cukor in 1935.

Illness, worsened by his heavy drinking, stopped Fields' film work for a time, but he made a comeback trading insults with ventriloquist's dummy Charlie McCarthy on radio in 1938. In 1940 he made My Little Chickadee with Mae West, perhaps his best-remembered role, and the riotous The Bank Dick.

In a last bit of irony, W. C. Fields died on the one holiday he claimed to despise – Christmas Day.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

W.C. Fields Facts

Birth NameWilliam Claude Dukenfield
BirthdayJanuary 29, 1880
BirthplacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of deathDecember 25, 1946 (age 66)
Height5' 8" (1m73)  How tall is W.C. Fields compared to you?

Selected Filmography

W.C. Fields Comedy Favorites Collection
The Great Man: W.C. Fields
My Little Chickadee
W.C. Fields Comedy Essentials Collection
Fatal Glass of Beer
The Dentist
W.C. Fields Comedy Collection, Vol. 2
W.C. Fields Collected Shorts
Mae West
Golf Specialist
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