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Before We Forget 4 (WC Fields)

Updated on October 9, 2011

WC Fields (1880-1946)

William Claude Dukenfield, his birth name,would have loved the picture I chose for him. (nice legs)

"Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water."

This guy was simply amazing. Most remember him as being just a drunk comedian actor, and I thought that as well, equated him as the 'Cheech and Chong' of our day, until, that is, I wrote my 'Juggle Jones' and went to YouTube for some nice juggle vids .... and there he was. It wasn't a long vid but it didn't have to be. I found him spellbinding. He could juggle or balance practically anything he could lift or carry. Fields despised his mother-in-law, and loved pissing her off by keeping a lit cigar, a candle (in holder), or a beer bottle balanced atop his head at mealtimes, never seeming to notice its presence. Through much of his early vaudeville career, he was a silent juggler. It wasn't until he was in his mid-30s that be began to add verbal comedy to his act.

Born in Philadelphia, (hey, a PA boy like me) he went to school for four years, then quit to work with his father on his vegetable horse drawn cart. At eleven years old, after having many fights with his alcoholic father, he hit him on the head with a shovel; Fields ran away. For a while he lived off the street on stolen food and any clothing he could find. His first regular job was delivering ice. By age thirteen he was very street-wise and a skilled pool player as well as a juggler. Then, at an amusement park in Norristown PA, he was hired as an entertainer for the first time in his life. There he developed his technique of pretending to lose the things he was juggling. In 1893 he was first paid to be a juggler at Fortescue's Pier in Atlantic City. When business was slow he pretended to drown in the ocean. The management thought their rescue would draw customers. By nineteen he was billed as "The Distinguished Comedian" and began acquiring accounts at banks in every city he played. At age twenty-three he opened at the Palace in London and played with Sarah Bernhardt at Buckingham Palace. He starred at the Follies-Bergere (young Charles Chaplin and Maurice Chevalier were on the program).

WC Fields Quotes

"Never try to impress a woman, because if you do she'll expect you to keep up the standard for the rest of your life."

"No doubt exists that all women are crazy; it's only a question of degree."

"Now don't say you can't swear off drinking; it's easy. I've done it a thousand times."

"On the whole, I'd rather be in Philidelphia."

"Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water."

"Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream."

"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."

"Set up another case bartender! The best thing for a case of nerves is a case of Scotch."

"Show me a great actor and I'll show you a lousy husband. Show me a great actress, and you've seen the devil."

"Sleep - the most beautiful experience in life - except drink."

"Some things are better than sex, and some are worse, but there's nothing exactly like it."

"Some weasel took the cork out of my lunch."

"Start every day off with a smile and get it over with."

"The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep."

"The clever cat eats cheese and breathes down rat holes with baited breath."

"The cost of living has gone up another dollar a quart."

"The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves."

"The world is getting to be such a dangerous place, a man is lucky to get out of it alive."

"There are only two real ways to get ahead today - sell liquor or drink it."

"There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation."

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