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Thursday, May 7, 2009


During his younger years W. C. Fields was one of the most successful comedy juggler of that era. When was he born, was it? April 9th of 1879? or was it Jan 29th of 1880? Well according to difference sources, it was both. how's that for juggling? By his own records he claims to have begun his juggling at the age of 15 in Pennsylvania., after witnessing the juggling Burns Broythers. he was already working at the Pier in Atlantic City. By the time he was 19 he joined the keith Vaudeville circuit, for a11/2 years whicj brought him to NYC and the Orpheum Circcuit. On stage he was billed as the 'Eccentric Tramp Juggler' dressing as a tramp, donning a fake beard, and over applied eye makeup. His comedy was physical character comedy and never uttered a word while in character. Fields claims to have practiced for two years to perfect the trick of kicking a top hat up to a stick balanced on his forehead. Another difficult trick consisted of balancing a top hat, cigar, and whisk broom on his foot, then kicking them up so that the cigar goes to his mouth, the hat to his head, and the broom to his back pocket. In his act he used balls,hats, a cane and some cigar boxes, then developing the pool table gimmicks that was shown in his movies years later. his desire was to make the character more important than tricks (though his tricks were not easy), and turning his juggling act into a true performance. He soon went into burlesque with Fred Irwins 'The Majestics' , Martin Beck caught his act and booked him to the Opheum. From 1905-15 he toured Europe twice, endless trips to Europe and the best Vaudeville houses in the USA. In 1913 he did a command performance for the King and Queen of England. In 1915 while touring Europe he opened his mouth and out poured his new act, between 1915-21 he joined Ziegfeld Follies with his juggling act especially is pool stick routine, his tramp act was disappearing and his humor was replacing it. WC went on to to make the movies that would make him famous, he did broadway shows, radio and went on to world prominence and the rest is hollywood history. How much do you remember about WC Fields, bet you'd like to share some of it here.

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