8th out of 99 books — 2 voters
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W.C. Fields: His Follies and Fortunes
In this now-classic biography of America's great funnyman, first published in 1949, award-winning author Robert Lewis Taylor captures the cantankerous charm that has made Fields revered by generations of helplessly laughing viewers. 16 pages of photos.
Paperback, 340 pages
Published September 1st 1989 by St. Martin's Press
(first published 1949)
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Dec 03, 2008 Andy rated it really liked it · review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mahatma Kane Jeeves and Edgar Souse (accente grave on the "e")
Pretty good bio on Fields that touches on his vaudeville years as much as the legendary comedies that made him a star. Seems like Fields was always "on", making jokes about mogo on the gogogo to his doctor after being diagnosed with TB. His life was one big drunken comedy!
What an amazing life and character. Fields was so much more than the Hollywood image and pop-culture icon he became. This is the first bio written after Fields death and as such may not be as "honest" as later entries (lots of anecdotes are reported as factual when they may have been more than a little exaggerated), but it also benefits from that very immediacy. The author was writing as a contemporary of the man instead of a revisionist biographer.
Jan 14, 2009 Yofish rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Yofish by: WaPo review
Written a ways back (1951, 10ish year after Fields' death). Not at all in an academic style; more like a sequence of magazine articles. Supposedly not all that accurate---depended on Fields' own stories too much, or something. But quite entertaining. I did not know that he was such an accomplished juggler. He was just the right age (born in 1880) for Vaudeville, and then just the right age for the early talkies.
Strongest when talking about his childhood and early vaudeville days; after W.C. hits Hollywood, the book devolves into a series of loosely related anecdotes. But they are pretty damn good anecdotes, such as the miniature bar Fields had installed under the soap dish in his shower (so he could drink away from the watchful eyes of his personal trainer).
It didn't really bother me that some of the stories in this book might be exaggerated,or even made up, I still found it a very interesting read, although I still don't know whether I like the guy or not, he was a mass of contradictions.
May 13, 2009 Evan rated it really liked it
Fields aficionados like to bash this book for bending the facts and at the same time not-so-secretly enjoying the shit out of it. It's the most fun of all the Fields bios, and for a long time it was the only show in town.
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1959) for The Travels of Jaimie McPheetersMore about Robert Lewis Taylor...