W. C. FieldsWilliam Claude Dukenfield
January 29, 1880 - December 25, 1946
(partial of course)
ALCOHOL and DRINKING
Now don't say you can't swear off drinking; it's easy. I've done it a thousand times.
How well I remember my first encounter with The Devil's Brew. I happened to stumble across a case of bourbon--and went right on stumbling for several days thereafter.
Back in my rummy days, I would tremble and shake for hours upon arising. It was the only exercise I got.
Thou shalt not kill anything less than a fifth.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house unless they have a well-stocked bar.
Somebody's been putting pineapple juice in my pineapple juice!
Charlie McCarthy: "Say, Mr. Fields, I read in the paper where you consumed two quarts of liquor a day. What would your father think about that?" WC: "He'd think I was a sissy."
I exercise extreme self control. I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.
I don't believe in dining on an empty stomach.
Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll have another drink.
Say anything that you like about me except that I drink water.
Of course, now I touch nothing stronger than buttermilk: 90-proof buttermilk.
Some weasel took the cork out of my lunch.
I never drank anything stronger than beer before I was twelve.
I seldom took a drink on the set before 9 a.m.
(Fields gave this rationale for not drinking water:) "Fish f**k in it."
(Fields, who never got falling-down drunk, explained why:) "When you woo a wet goddess, there's no use falling at her feet."
(Fields' retort from his dressing room after a director had shouted, "Camera reloading!" - "Fields reloading!"
(After a Universal executive wondered aloud if Fields drank all the time, the enraged comedian retorted:) "I certainly do not drink all the time. I have to sleep you know."
(This also turned up in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break in this exchange:) Flight attendant: "Should I get you a bromo?" WC: "No. I couldn't stand the noise."
Twas a woman who drove me to drink. I never had the courtesy to thank her.
I was in love with a beautiful blonde once. She drove me to drink; that's the one thing I'm indebted to her for.
"I take inordinate pride in my nose. Indeed, I have treatment done on it every day" (At this point, Fields lifts a glass.) "My daily treatment."
My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a whitish fluid they force down helpless babies.
I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake, which I also keep handy.
It's a wonderful thing, the D.T.'s. You can travel the world in a couple of hours. You see some mighty funny and curious things that come in assorted colors.
Sleep...the most beautiful experience in life--except drink.
During one of my treks through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew. We were compelled to live on food and water for several days. (My Little Chickadee)
(Fields with a hangover:) "The two-headed boy in the circus never had such a headache..."
Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. While everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we'll be seeing six or seven."
Water rusts pipes.
PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it.
Never give a sucker an even break.
Children should neither be seen nor heard from -- ever again.
Anyone who hates dogs and kids can't be all bad.
Yes I do like children ... Girl children...about eighteen or twenty.
The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.
A man who overindulges lives in a dream. He becomes conceited. He thinks the whole world revolves around him; and it usually does.
(Fields' proposed epitaph:) "All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."
I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.
There's an Ethiopian in the fuel supply.
A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.
Never cry over spilt milk, because it may have been poisoned.
Never mind what I told you--you do as I tell you.
Don't worry about your heart, it will last you as long as you live.
Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps horses from betting on people.
It's what you do that counts and not what you say; therefore I fired my press agent.
(When a studio executive tried to collect from Fields for a charity, the comic had what he thought was good reason not to give:) WC: "You see, I am a member of the F.E.B.F." Exec: "The what?" WC: "F**k everybody but Fields."
I've been barbecued, stewed, screwed, tattooed, and fried by people claiming to be my friends. The human race has gone backward, not forward, since the days we were apes swinging through the trees.
There comes a time in the affairs of a man when he has to take the bull by the tail and face the situation.
California is the only state in the union where you can fall asleep under a rose bush in full bloom and freeze to death.
(Fields, writing to a creditor, explained that pressing needs necessitated his collection of the money:)
"There is Kleenex to buy for both the seven-passenger and coupe Cadillacs. One does not regurgitate and let fly a hock-tuey out of the car window and expect to hold the respect of his public. One cannot forget their Noblesse Oblige."
By god, I was born lonely!
Everything I do is either illegal, immoral, or fattening.
What a gorgeous day. What effulgent sunshine. It was a day of this sort the McGillicuddy brothers murdered their mother with an ax.
In the ten years since I had run away from home...I had gone through more strange experiences than the average person crowds into a whole lifetime.
COMEDY and SHOW BUSINESS
It's hard to tell where Hollywood ends and the D.T.'s begin.
"The funniest thing a comedian can do is not do it." (FYI, a perfect example of this adage in action can be found in Fields' short film The Pharmacist. After washing his face and hands, a closed-eyed Fields gropes around for a towel and unknowingly heads straight for the fur hanging 'round his wife's neck. Just as he's about to grab it, she moves, and he in fact does grab the towel on the wall in front of her. The obvious gag, of course, would have been to grab the fur, but the scene is funnier because he doesn't.)
I like my films to influence the audience. Even if it means tripping their aged grandparents with a cane when they get home.
In every big city there is always one surefire laugh, and that lies in hanging some piece of idiocy upon the people of a nearby city or town.
Thou shalt not steal--only from other comedians.
The movie people would have nothing to do with me until they heard me speak in a Broadway play, then they all wanted to sign me for the silent movies.
Hollywood is the gold cap on a tooth that should have been pulled out years ago.
No one likes the fellow who is all rogue, but we'll forgive him almost anything if there is warmth of human sympathy underneath his rogueries. The immortal types of comedy are just such men.
The work I'm doing on the screen differs from that of anyone else. My comedy is of a peculiar nature. . .no writers have been developed along the lines of my type of comedy and this is why I sometimes have differences with writers, supervisors and directors alike.
I still carry scars on my legs from these early attempts at juggling. I'd balance a stick on my toe, toss it into the air, and try to catch it again on my toe. Hour after hour the damned thing would bang against my shinbones. I'd work until tears were streaming down my face. But I kept on practicing, and bleeding, until I perfected the trick. I don't believe that Mozart, Liszt, Paderewski, or Kreisler ever worked any harder than I did.
(Invited to play golf by someone he didn't like, Fields responded:) "When I want to play with a prick, I'll play with my own."
(Fields, commenting on a dreadful early draft of the script for My Little Chickadee:) "It's headed for the brambles and we are all in our bare feet."
(Fields' response to a film comedy idea suggested by a director) "I'll be down in the front row with a basket of last month's eggs."
A comic should suffer as much over a single line as a man with a hernia would in picking up a heavy barbell.
I always made up my own acts; built them out of my knowledge and observation of real life. I'd had wonderful opportunities to study people; and every time I went out on the stage I tried to show the audience some bit of true human nature.
Comedy is a serious business. A serious business with only one purpose--to make people laugh.
BANKERS, DOCTORS, LAWYERS
Dentists, lawyers, doctors are all a bunch of thieving bastards.
I like thieves. Some of my best friends are thieves. Why, just last week we had the president of the bank over for dinner.
(Of one detested doctor, Fields said he was:) "a servant of humanity. . .who had done really brilliant work in isolating fees."
The only thing a lawyer won't question is the legitimacy of his mother.
There are seven natural openings in the head and body. A lawyer is the only human being with eight. The extra one is a slot to store money in, should his bank be unable to hold all of it.
The income tax was devised to give lawyers and certified public accountants business. Few persons can make head, tail, or middle out of it. Einstein admitted he couldn't.
RELIGION and POLITICS
"...more people are driven insane through religious hysteria than by drinking alcohol."
To me, these biblical stories are just so many fish stories, and I'm not specifically referring to Jonah and the whale. I need indisputable proof of anything I'm asked to believe.
(Fields, reading the Bible on his deathbed.) "Just looking for loopholes."
If I ever found a church that didn't believe in knocking all the other churches, I might consider joining it.
I think of the church often. Not because religion was closing in on me, but because for a long time my ass was sore from that hard, un-upholstered pew.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain unless you've used up all the other four-letter words.
(Fields, on reading the Bible:) "I admit I scanned it once, searching for some movie plots..." (but found) "only a pack of wild lies."
(Upon hearing a Christmas carol on the radio, Fields shouted:) "Turn it off! Cease! Give me an ax, a heavy tomahawk! The royal mace of England! I'll smash the thing and its illegitimate fugue!"
I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.
Sex isn't necessary. You don't die without it--but you can die having it.
I'd rather have two girls at 21 each than one girl at 42.
(Fields' reminiscence of the Philly of his youth) "The low-ceiling price bazaar for sexual relief was a street called Middie Alley. You could barely get a pushcart through this avenue. Top price--twenty-five cents."
I had this Melanesian belle, a comely looking lass, and I was headed for the shrubbery, which grows very lush in those parts. Well, her husband was following behind holding a forefinger up in the air and crying, "One dollah, one dollah!'"
WOMEN and MARRIAGE
No doubt exists that all women are crazy; it's only a question of degree.
Women are like elephants to me. I like to look at 'em, but I wouldn't want to own one.
Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard for the night, she can still survive.
Marriage is better than leprosy because it's easier to get rid of.
(Fields' insults about Mae West on the set of My Little Chickadee, 1940) "Ah yes, she's a fine figure of a woman, isn't she? A handsome lass if there ever was one--and exceptionally well-preserved too."
After two days in hospital, I took a turn for the nurse.
Few things in life are more embarrassing than the necessity of having to inform an old friend that you have just got engaged to his fiancee.
All the men in my family were bearded, and most of the women.
(Asked if he believed in clubs for women, Fields responded:) "Yes, if every other form of persuasion fails."
Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's wife unless she's a beauty.
I was married once--in San Francisco. I haven't seen her for many years. The great earthquake and fire in 1906 destroyed the marriage certificate. There's no legal proof. Which proves that earthquakes aren't all bad.
(To the question: Do married people live longer?--Fields responded:) "No, it just seems longer."
I do believe in tying the marriage knot, as long as it's around the woman's neck.
MONEY and LARCENY
Anything worth having is worth cheating for.
Business is an establishment that gives you the legal, even though unethical, right to screw the naive--right, left, and in the middle.
(Fields claimed to have been jailed often as a street-wise youth, and he always pleaded innocent--of the charge at hand, anyway.) "They never got me for the right offense."
(Fields speaking of an ice vendor boss, whom Fields tried to teach to juggle.) "I could only teach him how to juggle his books."
I could juggle anything in my day. Balls, cigar boxes, knives...But there was one thing I could never juggle. My income tax.
I could be stranded in any town in the United States with ten cents and within an hour make $20 with the shell game.
(W.C., after winning several hands at cards:) "Beginner's luck, gentlemen...although I have devoted some time to the game."
[Charles Dickens was] "the bravest man who ever lived. He fathered ten children before they became tax deductions."
(An interviewer asked Fields the secret of ensuring a person wealth:) "Yes, when the little beggar is only 10 years old, have him castrated and his taste buds destroyed. He'll grow up never needing a woman, a steak, or a cigarette. Think of the money saved."
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