1001 W 75TH ST. WOODRIDGE, IL 630-427-1880

Hollywood Memorial

W.C. Fields

One of the great comedians of all time, the vaudevillian, expert juggler with Ziegfield’s Follies and Broadway actor, began to appear in silent films though he didn’t become a star in his own right until the sound era, many of which he wrote and some of which paired him with friend and comedic great Mae West. ‘My Little Chickadee,’ ‘The Bank Dick,’ ‘You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man,’ and ‘Never Give a Sucker an Even Break’ were some of his classics. He was the first choice to play the title role in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ but turned it down. Could juggle or balance practically anything he could lift or carry; Fields unnerved his despised mother-in-law by keeping a lit candle balanced atop his head at mealtimes, never seeming to notice its presence. Also known for his heavy binge drinking with good friend and fellow alcoholic John Barrymore; he once fell down a set of stairs while holding a martini, when he hit the bottom he proudly held up the glass and proclaimed ‘I didn’t spill a drop!’ However, sadly looking back on his life he once said, ‘You know, I’d like to see how I would’ve made out without liquor.’
When asked what he would like his epitaph to read he responded, ‘on the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia’ (A line later repeated by his admirer President Ronald Reagan when he was wounded by an assassin’s bullet and asked by his surgeon how he was doing.) Not buried in Philadelphia, or with an epitaph, he is interred in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn, Glendale.

Known for his quick wits and one-liners, legend has it that a stagehand was cleaning out Fields’ dressing room and accidentally bumped into a table on which Fields had placed a bottle of whiskey. He caught the bottle before it hit the floor, but the cork had popped out and he couldn’t find it. He placed the bottle back on the table and left. Later, Fields came back to the dressing room but stormed out moments later roaring, ‘Who took the cork out of my lunch?’ Fields said that the Marx Brothers were the only act he couldn’t follow on the live stage. According to friends, the biggest laugh he ever got as a stage performer was when a monologue he was giving on-stage was interrupted by a long, loud crash of objects backstage. After the crashing stopped, and the audience was silent, Fields gave a one-word comment in a stage whisper: ‘Mice!’

‘Twas a woman who drove me to drink. I never had the courtesy to thank her.’

‘I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.’

When asked why he never drank water, he replied: ‘I’m afraid it will become habit-forming.’

(When asked whether he liked children) ‘Ah yes…boiled or fried.’

(When ‘caught’ reading a Bible) ‘Just looking for loopholes.’

‘Horse sense is what a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.’

‘What fiend put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice?’

‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then give up. No use being a damned fool about it.’

‘Always carry a flask of whiskey in case of snakebite, and furthermore always carry a small snake.’

‘Once during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.’

‘Children should neither be seen nor heard from…ever again.’

‘Start every day with a smile, and get it over with.’

‘Women are like elephants. They are interesting to look at, but I wouldn’t like to own one.’

‘A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.’

‘Marriage is better than leprosy, because it’s easier to get rid of.’

‘I gargle with whiskey several times a day, and I haven’t had a cold in years.’

‘The cost of living has gone up another dollar a quart.’