Jan 29, 1880
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@Film & Theater Personalities, Facts and Childhood
W. C. Fields born at
He married a fellow vaudevillian, Harriet Hughes in 1900. They had one son. The couple separated by 1907 due to his unwillingness to give up show business and settle down in some other profession.
He was in a relationship with Bessie Poole which resulted in the birth of a son. Bessie was killed in a bar fight and her child was sent to a foster home.
He had a long term relationship with Carlotta Monti that lasted till his death.
He was born as the oldest son of James Lydon Dukenfield. His father used to serve in the army and was wounded. He later worked as an independent produce merchant and part-time hotel keeper.
He began working as a child in order to support his poor family. He was employed at a department store and also worked in an oyster house.
He ran away from home when he was 11. He taught himself to juggle and spent hours practicing the art till his fingers bled. He began performing juggling acts at the church and theater shows when he was 15.
He started his career as a juggler in vaudeville and developed a unique routine by combining juggling with comedy. He used to juggle using objects like cigar boxes and hats which added to his charm.
He was soon traveling all over North America and Europe under the name ‘The Eccentric Juggler’. He made a name for himself and was called the world’s greatest juggler by the early 1900s.
He made his Broadway debut in a musical comedy, ‘The Ham Tree’ in 1906.
From 1915 onwards he adopted a stage costume that consisted of a top hat, cut-away coat and collar, and a cane—an appearance that seemed to be inspired by the cartoon character Ally Sloper.
He starred in Florenz Ziegfeld’s Broadway production ‘Ziegfeld Follies’ revues from 1916 to 1922. He entertained his audiences with a billiards skit complete with funnily shaped cues and trick shots.
Considered to be one of the greats of early American cinema, W. C. Fields was a much loved comedian best know for his on-screen comic persona of a misanthropic, arrogant, clumsy and hard drinking egoist with a deep hatred for mankind and animals alike.