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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.
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