Born William Claude Dukenfield on January 29, 1880, W.C. Fields was juggler, well known actor and an American comedian performing on Broadway, in silent films, and variety shows. He became a juggler by thirteen. Over the years, he wrote and improvised a number of his performances and is considered one of the best comedians of his time. Despite his success he was a very sad man and lived a hard life. Fields passed away on Christmas Day in 1946 at the age of 67 at a Sanatorium from complications of alcoholism.

Fields grew up with an alcoholic and short-tempered father leading him to run away from home several times. At age twelve, after a fight with his father, Fields ran away a final time. Much later, he spent a portion of his own life estranged from his wife and son, reconciling after a series of alcohol-related illnesses.

Fields once said, “Comedy is a serious business. A serious business with only one purpose – to make people laugh.” Many of his famous quotes are laced with references to alcohol and a dark sense of humor. But there are other times when the human-centric side of Fields comes through: “If I can make them laugh and through that laughter make this old world seem just a little brighter, then I am satisfied.”


Mercury One has a W.C. joke box. It has a collection of various jokes used at different events. Photo courtesy of Mercury One.

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Republished with permission from MercuryOne.org.

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