Groucho Marx to Roger Ebert, in 1972:
“I knew [W.C.] Fields well. He used to sit in the bushes in front of his house with a BB gun and shoot at people. Today he’d probably be arrested. He invited me over to his house. He had a girlfriend there. I think her name was Carlotta Monti. Car-lot-ta MON-ti! That’s the kind of a name a girl of Fields would have. He had a ladder leading up to his attic. Without exaggeration, there was $50,000 in liquor up there. Crated up like a wharf. I’m standing there and Fields is standing there, and nobody says anything. The silence is oppressive. Finally he speaks: This will carry me 25 years.”
I am strangely charmed by every single detail in that story.
Great story. Fields was quite the character. One of his lines I always loved is, “Water…never drink water. Fish make love in it.”
I love that he says “Make love” – hysterical – a funny phrase for what fish do. hahahaha
The picture of him shooting people with a BB gun is making me giggle… I wonder if he stood outside in his underwear like my dad does now when shooting at squirrels… (yeah, its slightly mortifying, but hilarious). Hahaha.
The version of that quote I heard was a bit bluer, and more to the point.
If you liked those details, you might like this piece on Hollywood’s greatest drinkers. (Includes Dean Martin.)
“During one of my treks through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew,” (Fields) tells them in mock horror. “Compelled to live on food and water for several days.”
My boyfriend in high school was a huge WC Fields fan (as well as a Marx Brothers fan) – and my main memories of our relationship is us sitting at his house, watching old movies. He basically TRAINED me in how to watch those movies. Pretty cool.
And whaddya know – he just came out with a book. It’s on the history of vaudeville – and all of those great performers.
What I love about the whole thing is that … I am not surprised at all that he would write a book about the history of vaudeville. Not at all. He was already a scholar on the topic at age 19. The continuum.
Destiny. Fate. It’s awesome.
hehe, that’s great stuff.
My hero :)
I read that vaudeville book a couple months ago. Great stuff.
Awesome, right? I went to the prom with that dude. Life is so strange.
W.C. was the definitive Micawber in David Copperfield. If you read the book and know Fields, you will hear him talking.
A bio chock full of his personal correspondence was put out by his grandson. Great insights into his fascination with words and language, as well as the deterioration of his long range (always on the vaudeville road earning dough) relationship with his wife.
And I am strangely charmed by your posts. I should start coming back here regularly again.