Man on the Flying Trapeze

Simon Louvish
Date Published
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To most people W. C. Fields is an instantly recognisable figure, aclassic icon of film comedy. But the full and true tale of the life and art of the clown who dubbed himself ‘The Great Man’ has, astonishingly, never been told. This is the first book to relate in detail William Claude Dukenfield’s artistic path to the cinema, disentangling the facts from the pack of lies and myths mischievously nurtured by Fields himself. Following meticulous research in a host of archives, including the personal scrapbooks of Fields himself, Simon Louvish lovingly traces the origins of Fields’ comedy in his self-authored vaudeville sketches, then follows his career from stage to silent screen, revealing the sources of his great talkie routines, and highlighting his later tragic struggle, against studio heads,censorship, alcohol addiction and illness, to create some of the greatest gems of screen humour.


Simon Louvish was born in Glasgow in 1947 and misspent his youth growing up in Israel between 1949 and 1968, including a stint as an army cameraman from 1965 to 1967. Having decamped to the London School of Film Technique in 1968, Simon became involved in the production of a series of independent documentary films about apartheid in South Africa,…

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