Everyone seems to know the story of W.C. Fields, the curmudgeon of classic film comedy--his Dickensian childhood in Philadelphia, the numerous bank accounts he opened around the world under outlandish names, and so on. All entertaining--and all completely untrue. This highly readable biography is the first to disentangle the facts from the pack of ...
Everyone seems to know the story of W.C. Fields, the curmudgeon of classic film comedy--his Dickensian childhood in Philadelphia, the numerous bank accounts he opened around the world under outlandish names, and so on. All entertaining--and all completely untrue. This highly readable biography is the first to disentangle the facts from the pack of lies and myths mischievously nurtured by Fields himself, telling the real story of an artist whose finest creation was himself. Photos.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-09-01 So influential were these two leaders, argues syndicated political cartoonist Shesol, that their long-standing rivalry affected Johnson's Great Society and shaped U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Beginning with Robert Kennedy's unsuccessful attempt to retract his brother Jack's offer of the vice presidency to Johnson in 1960, Shesol traces their increasing animosity through Johnson's years of exile in Camelot when Bobby enjoyed his position, in J.F.K.'s words, as "the second most powerful man in the world," to the sudden reversal of fortunes after J.F.K.'s assassination, and concludes with Bobby's candidacy against Johnson in 1968, Johnson's decision to pull out of the race and Bobby's assassination. Shesol uses hundreds of personal interviews, oral histories and official files to present a compelling history. His sympathies seem to be with Kennedy, and this account suggests that he ran against Johnson only to avert the ongoing tragedy of the Vietnam War. Johnson emerges as almost clinically paranoid about Kennedy. This is indispensable reading for both experts on the period and newcomers to the history of that decade. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1997-08-25 The self-created mythology of the great vaudevillian and screen comedian W.C. Fields (1880-1946)Šof hilarious misanthropy and a prodigious taste for drink, of a Dickensian childhood in Philadelphia and of hundreds of bank accounts under strange namesŠoften threatens to overshadow his actual performances. Fields's catchphrases and deliveryŠ"It ain't a fit night out for man nor beast"Šare known by millions who have never seen his films (The Fatal Glass of Beer; Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, etc.). In this exhaustively researched and witty biography, novelist and film historian Louvish (The Resurrections, etc.) redresses the balance, presenting Fields as a hardworking and inventive performer who often recreated his past and himself. Born William Claude Dukenfield, he made his career at first as Wm. C. Fields, Tramp Juggler, going on to become a leading star of American vaudeville and the English music hall. He made the transition to film in the early 1930s, in movies structured around routines and characters he had been polishing for years. Louvish sorts out the fact from the fiction in Field's life and career, and presents as well a first-rate social history of a vanished world of entertainment. Along the way are vivid portraits of such colleagues and friends of Fields as Houdini, Eddie Cantor, Fannie Brice and Will Rogers. This is a compelling portrait of a melancholy genius who kept a terrifying world at bay by mocking it. Photos and drawings. Movie Book Club selection. (Sept.)
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