Fields, W. C.
W. C. Fields: (William Claude Fields), 1880–1946, American comic actor, b. Philadelphia as Claude William Dukenfield. He began his career as a juggler, and much later appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies and in Earl Carroll's Vanities. In 1925, he first worked with D. W. Griffith. With his rasping voice and bulbous nose, Fields was an able satiric comedian. At his best in portrayals of drunken, swaggering, and down-at-the-heels rascals, Fields could be pointedly vitriolic and uproariously funny. Among his best films are It's a Gift (1934) and The Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935). He scored a personal triumph in his sole dramatic role, as Micawber in David Copperfield (1935). He wrote the stories or screenplays for many of his films. One of his last works, My Little Chickadee (1940), costarred and was cowritten by Mae West.
See D. Deschner, The Films of W. C. Fields (1966); biographies by R. L. Taylor (1948), R. Fields (1973), S. Louvish (1997), and J. Curtis (2003); study by W. K. Everson (1967).
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Publication information: Article title: Fields, W. C. Encyclopedia title: The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. © 2012 The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia © 2012, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. Used with the permission of Columbia University Press. All Rights Reserved. Publisher: The Columbia University Press. Place of publication: Not available. Publication year: 2013.
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