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 W.C. Fields

W.C. Fields

Original Name William Claude Dukenfield
Birth
Darby, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 25 Dec 1946 (aged 66)
Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot The Great Masoleum, Holly Terrace, Hall of Inspiration, Columbarium of the Nativity, Wall Section G (west elevation), Niche 20895
Memorial ID 1148 · View Source
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Actor. He was the oldest of the five children born to Kate Spangler Felton, a native of Philadelphia, and James Dukenfield, an immigrant from England. He only attended four years of school, after which he left school to help his father with his business. However, he wasn't cut out for selling vegetables, and left home at the age of eleven after a great many fights (some of them physical and abusive) with his father. The young boy lived a precarious hand to mouth existence, often spending the night in jail. After awhile he got a steady job delivering ice, and at age thirteen was hired as a juggler at an amusement park in Norristown, Pennsylvania. His juggling act was very successful and a big crowd-pleaser. Later on in his thirteenth year he moved on to Atlantic City to work as a juggler at Fortescue's Pier. By the age of nineteen he was being billed as "The Distinguished Comedian," and by the age of twenty-one was a headliner everywhere he travelled. By this point he had moved on from entertaining at amusement parks and was now doing his comedy juggling routine for vaudeville. He was playing for more and more prestigious theatres and vaudeville houses in both America and England, and appearing with some very important people of the day, such as Sarah Bernhardt and Maurice Chevalier. In 1906 he debuted on Broadway in 'The Ham Tree,' a musical comedy, and joined the Ziegfeld Follies in 1915. He stayed with the Ziegfeld Follies until 1921. In 1923 he made a splash on Broadway with the musical comedy 'Poppy.' During these same years he had also begun to appear in silent films, both one-reel comedies and full-length features, though he didn't become a star in his own right until the sound era. His style of comedy and screen persona were more suited to sound, although he did turn in a few well-regarded silent comedies, most notably 'Sally of the Sawdust' (1925). Some of his silents were later remade and reworked during the sound era. During the sound era he made such films as 'It's a Gift' (1934), 'Million Dollar Legs' (1932), 'The Man on the Flying Trapeze' (1935), 'My Little Chickadee' (1940), 'The Bank Dick' (1940), 'You Can't Cheat an Honest Man' (1939), and 'Never Give a Sucker an Even Break' (1941). He also occasionally appeared on ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's radio show, and also was a talented amateur cartoonist. He frequently drew the illustrations for his vaudeville publicity materials, and continued to send friends hand-made greeting and holiday cards and drawings his entire life. Fields had two children, William Claude, Jr. (born 1904), by his wife Hattie, and William Rexford Fields Morris (born 1917), by his girlfriend Bessie Poole. His final fourteen years were spent living with Carlotta Monti. He spent his final weeks in a hospital and died of a stomach ulcer at the age of sixty-six.

Bio by: Carrie-Anne


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1148
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for W.C. Fields (29 Jan 1880–25 Dec 1946), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1148, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .