The world's most famous curmudgeon, William Claude Dukenfield (1880-1946), a.k.a. W. C. Fields, was a master comic with an unforgettable screen presence who slyly tossed witty lines under his breath. He said what others were afraid to say.
"I have spent a lot of time searching through the Bible for loopholes," he confessed.
Born on this day in Philadelphia, at age nine the colorful Fields practiced hard and believed he could become the world's greatest juggler. His skill led him to join the circus then vaudeville where he became the star of the Ziegfeld Follies (1915-1921). From there he starred in many of the classic early motion picture comedies.
"A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money," observed Fields.
With large nose and grouchy voice, the alcohol-guzzling, cigar-chomping Fields picked on everything--men, women, children (he likes 'em "fried and well done" or "go way kid, you bother me"), and animals.
"No doubt exists that all women are crazy; it's only a question of degree," he said. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife unless she's a beauty."
The often-imitated legend was a published cartoonist and wrote the screenplays for many of his movies. "No one likes the fellow who is all rogue, but we'll forgive him almost anything if there is warmth and human sympathy underneath his rogueries," said Fields who with typical pompous humor called himself "the Great Man."
More Film-Making Quotations
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