W. C. Fields  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

W. C. Fields (January 29, 1880December 25, 1946) was an American juggler, 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 children, dogs, and women, unless they were the wrong sort of women.

This characterization that he portrayed in films and radio was so strong that it was generally identified with Fields himself. It was maintained by the then-typical movie-studio publicity departments at Fields's studios (Paramount and Universal) and further established by Robert Lewis Taylor's 1949 biography W.C. Fields, His Follies and Fortunes. Beginning in 1973, with the publication of Fields's letters, photos, and personal notes in grandson Ronald Fields's book W.C. Fields by Himself, it has been shown that Fields was married (and subsequently estranged from his wife), he financially supported their son, and he loved his grandchildren.

There was some truth to the misanthropic persona, however. Madge Evans, an actress who appeared in several films during the 1930s and who was later married to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sidney Kingsley ("Dead End," "Detective Story"), told a visitor in 1972 that her friend Fields so deeply resented intrusions on his privacy by curious tourists walking up the driveway to his Los Angeles home that he would conceal himself in the shrubs by his house, firing BB pellets at the trespassers' legs. Groucho Marx told a similar story, in his live album An Evening with Groucho.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "W. C. Fields" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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