W.C. Fields Profile
History doesn't tell us at which age he began drinking but his imbibing eventually became as legendary as his comic turns. It's said Fields could easily down three quarts of whiskey in a day and not only keep standing, but keep working. Fields wrote most of his funniest films himself, under pseudonyms like Mahatma Kane Jeeves, Otis Criblecablis and Charles Bogle, and in the scripts he wrote, his movie wives were invariably pretentious harridans and his film sons were always disrespectful whiners. That was Fields' basic impression of his own wife and son; about his wife Hattie, Fields once said, "She drove me to drink. It's the one thing I'm indebted to her for." There was no daughter in the Fields' household, which is probably why the daughters in his screenplays were loving and gentle, a gilded image of the daughter he wished he had.
Fields came very close to starring in MGM's classic The Wizard of Oz. In August 1938, the film's producer Mervyn LeRoy asked Fields to play either The Wizard or The Cowardly Lion, whichever he preferred, for which he would receive star billing and a $5000-per-day fee, an astronomical fee. Fields said no; he didn't think Wizard had the sweet smell of success about it. He may have been a bad fortune-teller and a less than sober citizen, but nothing kept him from bouncing forth with funny lines and first-rate quips, even on his deathbed. When one of his last visitors came to see him, Fields was reading a Bible. Since he had never been a religious man, the visitor asked, "why the Bible? Retorted W.C., a rascal to the end, "I'm lookin' for loopholes."
by Robert Osborne