Advertisement

© 2016

W.C. Fields from the Ziegfeld Follies and Broadway Stage to the Screen

Becoming a Character Comedian

  • Provides the first publication dedicated to exploring Fields's career in the Ziegfeld Follies

  • Makes use of rare archival material to paint a comprehensive picture of Field's life and work

  • Builds on the success of W. C. Fields from Burlesque and Vaudeville to Broadway: Becoming a Comedian to cast new light on a formative period in Fields's career

Book
  • 1.7k Downloads

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. 1915: A Momentous Year

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 3-20
    3. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 21-35
  3. The Beleaguered Sportsman

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 37-37
    2. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 39-50
    3. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 51-61
    4. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 63-76
  4. Entr’actes

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 77-77
    2. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 79-91
    3. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 93-103
    4. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 105-113
    5. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 115-123
  5. Lampooning the Dysfunctional Family

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 125-125
    2. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 127-137
    3. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 139-151
  6. Broadway Stardom

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 153-153
    2. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 155-165
    3. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 167-188
    4. Arthur Frank Wertheim
      Pages 189-202

About this book

Introduction

This book reveals how Fields became a character comedian while performing in Broadway’s most illustrious revue, the Ziegfeld Follies.

As the first biography to use the recently opened Fields Papers at the Motion Picture Academy, the book explores how Fields years as a Follies entertainer portraying a beleaguered husband and a captivating conman became a landmark turning point in his career, leading to his fame as a masterful film comedian. The book also untangles a web of mysteries about Fields’s turbulent private life, from the heartrending stories about the tragic relationship with his calculating wife who refused to divorce him, to his estranged son controlled by his mother, to the seven-year extra-marital affair with a chorus girl that led to the birth of an unwanted child.

This electrifying saga illuminates a complex dual personality, whirling from tenderness to brusqueness, who endured so much anguish in order to bring the gift of laughter to millions. Although vilified by Ziegfeld and assailed by demons, Fields survived the cutthroat rigors of Broadway show biz to become a legendary American iconoclast and cultural icon.

Keywords

twentieth century theatre American theatre theatre history Broadway revues vaudeville pantomime Florenz Ziegfeld physical comedy Pool Sharks comic satire The Family Ford Scandals Midnight Frolic George White George Gershwin

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.HistorianRancho Palos VerdesUSA

About the authors

Arthur Frank Wertheim is the author of  W. C. Fields from Burlesque and Vaudeville to Broadway: Becoming a Comedian (2014). The first volume of  a three-part series on the comedian’s life and career, it has already been hailed as the definitive biography of a famous American comic iconoclast and cultural icon.

He has also written several books on twentieth-century American culture, including Vaudeville Wars, The New York Little Renaissance, and Radio Comedy. He has co-edited three volumes: The Papers of Will Rogers and edited Will Rogers at the Ziegfeld Follies and American Popular Culture. A former American history professor at the University of Southern California, USA, as well as visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA, his awards range from a Fulbright grant to teach at the University of Indonesia to a fellowship on biography at The Norman Mailer Center, USA.

Bibliographic information