Yes I do like children ... Girl children...about eighteen or twenty.
'Twas a woman who drove me to drink, and I never had the courtesy to thank her for it.
Sex isn't necessary. You don't die without it, but you can die having it.
I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.
The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again. Then give up. There's no use being a damned fool about it.
Start every day with a smile and get it over with.
A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.
Once ... in the wilds of Afghanistan, I lost my corkscrew, and we were forced to live on nothing but food and water for days.
I feel like a midget with muddy feet have been walking over my tongue all night.
Madam, there's no such thing as a tough child - if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.
You're drunk! Yeah, and you're crazy. And I'll be sober tomorrow and you'll be crazy for the rest of your life.
The only thing a lawyer won't question is the legitimacy of his mother.
It's hard to tell where Hollywood ends and the D.T.'s begin.
Fields began his career in show business as a juggler. He liked to say he ran away form home at 11 or 12 years of age but the truth was he had a talent for "eccentric juggling" and after making a success at talent and church shows around Philadelphia, he took an offer to go on the vaudeville circuit at 18 with the apparent blessing of his parents.
He was such a good juggler that he played not only all over the world in major vaudeville and music hall bookings but in special engagements for European Royalty, including Edward VII and family at Buckingham Palace.
(The clip above is from "The Old Fashioned Way" in 1934. It is the only film clip of Fields' doing one of his complete stage juggling acts.)
Fields was an autodidact and very well-read. Before going on an engagement to Australia he read so much on the young country when he arrived there in 1910 that journalists who interviewed him were impressed that he knew more about the country than most of its regular inhabitants.
Fields married his female assistant, Hattie Fields, around 1900. She grew tired of the constant travel of a stage performer. She wanted Fields to settle down in one place and get a regular job. That was a deal breaker for "Claude Dukenfield" as he was known as a young man. He stayed on tour and his wife and he separated around 1907. They had a son, also named WC Fields, who was estranged from his father during his youth. Fields blamed Hattie for poisoning the young man's opinion of his father. In most of Fields "domestic" films (where he plays the put-upon head of a dysfunctional household) it is always the older women--wives and mothers-in-law-- who are shrewish toward him, a legacy of his unhappy domestic situation.
Fields also started getting roles in legitimate theater around the time he and Hattie separated. He went on to star in "The Zigfield Follies" in the 1920's with such other major stars as Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice and Will Rogers. He started appearing in silent films as well, directed by the likes of DW Griffith and his longtime friend Gregory La Cava.
One of W.C.s favorite authors was Charles Dickens. Fields wanderings about in show business as a young man made him identify with the likes of David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. One of his favorite roles in films was as a co-star in a 1935 MGM version of "David Copperfield" as none other than Mr. Micawber, a perfect role for him It was the only major role Fields ever played on screen where he didn't try to improve the dialogue of his scenes.
Here's Fields in his 1939 comedy "You Can't Cheat An Honest Man". He plays Larson E. Whipsnade, a carnival owner and reprobate. (This was the other type of role Fields played in films, besides the henpecked husband.) Almost all of Fields comedies were either written by him or in collaboration with others. He used the alias Charles Bogle or Mahatma Kane Jeeves for his gag and scenario writing at the film studios. When Whipsnade's son is about to marry into a high society family, the young man makes the mistake of bringing his iconoclastic father along to a party.