Born as William Claude Dukenfield, W. C. Fields was an iconic American comedian, actor, misanthrope, egotist, drunkard, writer, juggler, and writer who loudly declared his contempt for women, children and small animals. Americans adored him. The publicity departments at Paramount and Universal studios did their best to conceal the fact that he had a happy childhood, had been married, supported two sons, and doted on his grandchildren.

Fields got his start as a juggler in vaudeville and on Broadway. When he found that he could get laughs by adding dialogue to his routines, he developed the mumbling patter and sarcastic asides that became his trademarks. It was in the movies and on radio that he eventually found stardom. A handful of silent films in the 20s led to such classics as You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, The Bank Dick and My Little Chickadee with Mae West. He also became a popular guest on many radio shows, most notably perhaps Edgar Bergen’s Chase and Sanborn Hour, where he traded barbs with Charlie McCarthy, calling him among other things a woodpecker’s pin-up boy.

Fields always professed to hate Christmas, and to show his disdain for the holiday, he died on Christmas Day in 1946.

 

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Everybody’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.

I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.

I never hold a grudge. As soon as I get even with the son-of-a bitch, I forget it.

I always keep some whiskey handy in case I see a snake…which I also keep handy.

Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.

I like my films to influence the audience. Even if it means tripping their aged grandparents with a cane when they get home.

 

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