How much did you know about the great man?
W.C. Fields has been through several waves of audience popularity spanning several generations since his death at age 66 in 1946. He and Charlie Chaplin — nine years younger than Fields — continue to duke it out as to which is classic Hollywood’s foremost screen comedian.
As his biographer Robert Lewis Taylor wrote: From infancy Fields found life laborious sledding, and he took extraordinary measures to triumph over all. And triumph Fields certainly did.
Ok, let’s get to the answers to our Monday Quiz. To refresh yourselves on the questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: a) and b). The real Charles Bogle was a bootlegger who caught Field’s fancy. As for Kane Jeeves, Fields just liked the sound of the name.
2) Answer: d) Fields was an accomplished juggler, who later added comic patter to his act. A frequent traveler to Europe, he became something of an international sensation.
3) Answer: b) False. Fields kept things alcohol in moderation early in his career since his arduous juggling act demanded close physical coordination. The heavier drinking came later, in Hollywood.
4) Answer: a) 1940’s The Bank Dick; b) 1939’s You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man; c) 1933’s Tillie and Gus; and d) 1934’s It’s A Gift.
5) Answer: b) False. Fields was married just once to Harriet Hughes in April 1900. The couple produced a son, but separated within five years although they remained formally married for the rest of Fields’ life. In 1933, he took up with B-movie actress Carlotta Monti, a relationship that also lasted until his death. Monti later wrote a biography, W.C. Fields and Me, which was made into a 1976 movie with Rod Steiger playing Fields.
6) Answer: b) and c). Fields and Mae West regarded each other cautiously. Mae was unusually diplomatic. Realizing she was playing second fiddle to Fields, she said: I sorta stepped off my pedestal when I made (‘My Little Chickadee’).
7) Answer: c) An image of Fields appeared on the sleeve of the Beatles’ classic album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
8) Answer: b) False. Fields didn’t discourage the notion that his large veiny nose resulted from alcohol consumption. But it was probably the result of an inherited physical characteristic from his mother’s side of the family.
9) Answer: c) Freddie Bartholomew, an English-born child actor hugely popular in the 1930’s. We suspect Fields took an instant dislike to him.
10) Answer: a) True. Biographer Robert Lewis Taylor wrote that Fields was incapable of watching Chaplin perform for more than a few minutes. The virtuosity of the little fellow’s pantomime caused Fields to suffer horribly.