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W.C. Fields was an American actor/writer/comedian
of My Little Chickadee, David Copperfield,
The Bank Dick, It's a Gift, Poppy,
Man on the Flying Trapeze, You Can't Cheat an
Honest Man, and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break fame.
Though he often used a pseudonym, he was
actually the writer of some of his best
films including, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break,
The Bank Dick, You Can't Cheat an Honest Man,
It's a Gift, Man on the Flying Trapeze,
The Old Fashioned Way, and My Little Chickadee.
Like many early film and radio stars, Fields
first became famous on the vaudeville circuit.
His comedy juggling act was a headliner in both
North America and Europe. Between 1910 and 1915,
he reduced the amount of juggling in his act and
began incorporating comedy skits using both sight gags
and the verbal humor that would become synonymous
with him in his later film career. He became a star
on Broadway in 1923 with the Broadway hit, Poppy.
This success brought about numerous silent film
roles, and started his assent to international movie
Biographical fast facts
Full or original name at birth: William Claude Dukenfield*
Date and place of birth: January 29, 1880**,
Arlington House on the corner of Main and Mill Streets, Darby,
near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Date, time, place and cause of death: December 25, 1946,
at 12:03 p.m., Las Encinas Sanitarium, Pasadena,
California, U.S.A. (Cirrhosis of the liver/Pneumonia)
Wife: Harriet Veronica (Hughes) Fields (m. 1900 - December 25, 1946) (his death)
Wedding took place at the Methodist church on Howard Street, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Child: William Claude Fields, Jr. (son)
He supposedly had an illegitimate son, William Rexford Fields Morris,
with his girlfriend Bessie Poole.
Father: James Lydon Dukenfield (an innkeeper/bar manager/peddler)
Mother: Kate Felton
Burial site: Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California, U.S.A.
Error corrections or clarifications
* The Cambridge Factfinder (1993 edition),
and a few other sources, erroneously report
Fields was born "William Claude Dunkenfield."
The correct spelling is Dukenfield.
1880 census records show his name was actually
Claude W., not William C. Fields. W.C. Fields
himself confirmed he was born Claude William Fields
in several interviews, but given his penchant
for fictionalizing details of his youth, one
might take those confirmations with a grain of salt.
** Fields enjoyed telling many tall tales of his
early days, and actually lied about his date
of birth (giving "April 9, 1879" as his d.o.b.)
in order to get married while still underage.
For many years, most reference books reported
this erroneous date. Many reference works have
now corrected their information to the accurate
date of January 29th, 1880. "February 10, 1879"
is another of the many erroneous dates of birth
that still appear from time to time. The January
birth date has been verified by various
members of his family on several occasions.
4:45 a.m. has been reported as his time of birth,
but there is no substantiation for this time since
official birth records no longer exist for Fields.
NOTE: The above date, time and place of death was
confirmed by his death certificate. W.C. Fields'
cause of death has variously been reported as "kidney
failure," and "stomach hemorrhage," but cirrhosis of
the liver is listed as the immediate cause of death
on his death certificate.
All of the following publications, in some past editions,
have offered erroneous birth data on W.C. Fields.
The Cambridge Factfinder (1993 edition)
Chase's Calendar of Events
Daily Celebrity Almanac
The Hammond Almanac
Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia
New York Times Encyclopedic Almanac
Who's Who in America
World Almanac and Book of Facts
The World Almanac Who's Who of Film
It is not our intent to denigrate these fine
publications, but merely to point out the above
inaccuracy to prevent further dissemination
of the erroneous data.
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This page was last updated January 1, 2012. |