W. C. Fields - Actor & Comedian

W.C. Fields - Darby
William Claude Dukenfield, better known as William Claude Dukenfield, better known as W.C. Fields, was born in Darby, Delaware County in 1880. As a child, he ran away from home repeatedly beginning at the age of nine. His education was sporadic and he did not get beyond grade school. At the age of 12 he worked selling produce for his father, followed by a stint at Strawbridge and Clothier, and then at an Oyster House. At 17 he performed a juggling act at church and theater shows.

Fields entered vaudeville as a "tramp juggler" in 1898, transforming into The Eccentric Juggler in 1900, and touring as "the world's greatest juggler". Broadway followed and then the movies where he adopted a persona as a "misanthropic and hard drinking egotist”. Among his trademarks were his raspy drawl and grandiloquent vocabulary. The character he played became synonymous with the person he appeared to be off screen.

Fields appeared in thirteen feature films for Paramount Pictures and achieved a career ambition in 1935 when he played Mr. Micawber in MGM's David Copperfield. He made numerous short films and in later life joined ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and Bergen's dummy Charlie McCarthy on The Chase and Sanborn Hour for weekly comedy routines. His last performance was in 1946 on a spoken-word album recorded at Les Paul's studio where he reenacted some of his old routines.

W.C. Fields died on Christmas in 1946.