The legend who hates water

I have always loved W.C. Fields quotes, but it has only been recently that I discovered his acting and strange antics. He was known for his comical quotes and philosophy. Here are some of my favorite quotes from W.C.:

A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.
W. C. Fields

Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.
W. C. Fields

Anyone who hates children and animals can’t be all bad.
W. C. Fields

Children should neither be seen or heard from – ever again.
W. C. Fields

Don’t worry about your heart, it will last you as long as you live.
W. C. Fields

I am free of all prejudices. I hate every one equally.
W. C. Field

I like children – fried.
W. C. Fields

I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.
W. C. Fields

I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes.
W. C. Fields

I never drink water. I’m afraid it will become habit-forming.
W. C. Fields

If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.
W. C. Fields

It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.
W. C. Fields

Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.

W. C. Fields

If you do not know who W.C. Fields is, here is a little bit of his background.

William Claude Dukenfield (January 29, 1880 – December 25, 1946), better known as W. C. Fields, was an American comedian, actor, juggler and writer. Fields created a comic persona: a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist who remained a sympathetic character despite his snarling contempt for dogs, children, and women.

The characterization he portrayed in films and on radio was so strong it became generally identified with Fields himself. It was maintained by the movie-studio publicity departments at Fields’s studios (Paramount and Universal) and further established by Robert Lewis Taylor’s 1949 biography W.C. Fields, His Follies and Fortunes. Beginning in 1973, with the publication of Fields’s letters, photos, and personal notes in grandson Ronald Fields’s book W.C. Fields by Himself, it has been shown that Fields was married (and subsequently estranged from his wife), and he financially supported their son and loved his grandchildren.

However, Madge Evans, a friend and actress, told a visitor in 1972 that Fields so deeply resented intrusions on his privacy by curious tourists walking up the driveway to his Los Angeles home that he would hide in the shrubs by his house and fire BB pellets at the trespassers’ legs.

Early years

W.C. at age 15

Fields was born William Claude Dukenfield in Darby, Pennsylvania. His father, James L. Dukenfield, was from an English-Irish Catholic family that emigrated to America from Sheffield, England in 1854. James Dukenfield served in Company M of the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in the American Civil War and was wounded in 1863. Fields’s mother, Kate Spangler Felton, 15 years younger than her husband, was a Protestant of German ancestry. The 1876 Philadelphia City Directory lists James Dukenfield as a clerk. After marrying, he worked as an independent produce merchant and a part-time hotel-keeper.

Claude Dukenfield (as he was known) worked at the Strawbridge and Clothier department store and in an oyster house, before he left home at age 18 (not 11, as many biographies have said). At age 15, he had begun performing a juggling act at church and theater shows, and entered vaudeville as a “tramp juggler” using the name W. C. Fields. He soon was traveling as ‘The Eccentric Juggler’, and included amusing asides and increasing amounts of comedy into his act, becoming a headliner in North America and Europe. In 1906 he made his Broadway debut in a musical comedy, The Ham Tree.

Fields embellished stories of his youth, but his home seems to have been a reasonably happy one. His family supported his ambitions for the stage, and saw him off on the train for his first stage tour. His father visited him for two months in England, when Fields was performing there in music halls.

Fields was known among his friends as “Bill”. Edgar Bergen also called him Bill in the radio shows (while Charlie McCarthy called him many names). Fields played himself in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, and his ‘niece’ called him “Uncle Bill”. In one scene he introduced himself: “I’m W.C., uh, Bill Fields.” When he was portrayed in films as having a son, he often named the character “Claude”, after his own son. He was sometimes billed in England as “Wm. C. Fields”, due to “W.C.” being the British slang for a water closet. His public use of initials was a commonplace formality of the era in which he grew up. “W.C. Fields” also fit more easily onto a marquee than “W.C. Dukenfield”.

Fields and alcohol

Fields’s screen character was often fond of alcohol and this trait has become part of the Fields legend. In his younger days as a juggler, Fields himself never drank, because he didn’t want to impair his functions while performing. The loneliness of his constant touring and traveling, however, compelled Fields to keep liquor on hand for fellow performers, so he could invite them to his dressing room for companionship and cocktails. Only then did Fields cultivate a fondness for alcohol.

A memorable quote regarding alcohol is attributed to Fields. He allegedly said he never drank water because “fish fuck in it.” Fields expressed his feelings to Gloria Jean (playing his niece) in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break: “I was in love with a beautiful blonde once, Dear. She drove me to drink. That’s the one thing I am indebted to her for.”

On movie sets, Fields kept handy a vacuum flask of mixed martinis, which he referred to as his “pineapple juice”. One day a prankster switched the contents of the flask, filling it with actual pineapple juice. Upon discovering the prank, Fields was heard to yell, “Who put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice?!” (A variation of the story substitutes “lemonade”. However, a young Phil Silvers, who appeared with Fields in Tales of Manhattan, witnessed a similar incident on the set; in his 1973 autobiography This Laugh Is on Me, Silvers confirms that “pineapple juice”, not “lemonade”, was the euphemism Fields employed.)

In 1936 Fields became gravely ill, his health worsened by his heavy drinking. Fields’s film series came to a halt while he recovered; he made one last film for Paramount, The Big Broadcast of 1938. The comedian’s all-around cussedness kept other producers away, and Fields was professionally idle until he made his debut on radio. By then Fields was very sick and suffering from delirium tremens.

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Here are some great videos of W.C. Fields doing what he does best, making people laugh at the simple things:

He really was a national treasure. He was very brutal and anti water. He really had his routines down. I really enjoy watching his juggling and his other stage acts. Some of it is truly amazing.  I am sure there are alot more videos on youtube so if you like what you seen on here, check out youtube to see what else is out there. He is truly something everyone can enjoy.

Thanks for reading,

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