W.C. Fields Exhibit at NY Public Library (Lincoln Center)

FROM http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._C._Fields: William Claude Dukenfield (January 29, 1880[1] – December 25, 1946), better known as W. C. Fields, was an American comedian, actor, juggler and writer. Fields created a comic persona: a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist who remained a sympathetic character despite his snarling contempt for dogs, children, and women. The characterization he portrayed in films and on radio was so strong it became generally identified with Fields himself. It was maintained by the movie-studio publicity departments at Fields's studios (Paramount and Universal) and further established by Robert Lewis Taylor's 1949 biography W.C. Fields, His Follies and Fortunes. Beginning in 1973, with the publication of Fields's letters, photos, and personal notes in grandson Ronald Fields's book W.C. Fields by Himself, it has been shown that Fields was married (and subsequently estranged from his wife), and he financially supported their son and loved his grandchildren. However, Madge Evans, a friend and actress, told a visitor in 1972 that Fields so deeply resented intrusions on his privacy by curious tourists walking up the driveway to his Los Angeles home that he would hide in the shrubs by his house and fire BB pellets at the trespassers' legs. Groucho Marx told a similar story on his live performance album, An Evening with Groucho.

W.C. Fields

Thanks to Trav S.D. and his  blog for the heads up on this fantastic exhibit now through August 21 at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

The exhibit, titled “The Peregrinations & Pettifoggery of W. C. Fields”, features ephemera, clippings, playbills, photos, and a fantastic film exhibition about William Claude Dukenfield.  The films are curated by friend of the Trav Steve Massa, who is one of the film historians behind the also excellent Silent Clowns Series.

Fields was truly one of the great “Huckster Comedians” and managed to create an irascible, self-centered, greedy, small-minded, and often not above board character that audiences in all media (stage, film, and radio) loved as a hero and not as a villain.  He was also a loving father, an eccentric businessman (he reportedly had hundreds of bank accounts with false names around the country) and a legendary drinker.  (One quote attributed him is “I don’t drink water- fish pee in it.”)

Here is the film schedule:

W.C. Fields drawing by Al Hirschfeld.

W.C. Fields drawing by Al Hirschfeld.

Tuesday, June 1 at 2:30 pm
SALLY OF THE SAWDUST (1925)

Tuesday, June 8 at 2:30 pm
POOL SHARKS (1915)
SO’S YOUR OLD MAN (1926)
Silent films with accompaniment by Ben Model

Tuesday, June 15 at 2:30 pm
THE GOLF SPECIALIST (1930)
RUNNING WILD (1927)

Tuesday, June 22 at 2:30 pm
THE DENTIST (1932)
YOU’RE TELLING ME (1934)

Tuesday, June 29 at 2:30 pm
IT’S A GIFT (1934)

Tuesday, July 6 at 2:30 pm
THE FATAL GLASS OF BEER (1933)
THE BANK DICK (’40)

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, Vincent Astor Gallery (Map and directions)

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
12:00 PM –
8:00 PM
11:00 AM –
6:00 PM
11:00 AM –
6:00 PM
12:00 PM –
8:00 PM
11:00 AM –
6:00 PM
10:00 AM –
6:00 PM
CLOSED

For additional information on Fields, please see www.wcfields.com.

For additional information about the exhibit, visit the NYPL library event page

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