Things You Didn’t Know About W. C. Fields

Larrylambert
3 min readJun 20, 2023

His light seems to be dimming.

Creative Commons: twm1340

I know W. C. Fields more by reputation than by actually watching his work. If you look up some off his quotes you will see a distinct charactarization emerge. One that doesn’t like kids, loves to drink and doesn’t trust women.

From what I remember of his work, he was a better than fair comedian. Some of his more notable movies are: “My Little Chickadee,” “Then Bank Dick,” “Never Give A Sucker and Even Break,” and “You Can’t Cheat and Honest Man.”

Upon doing some more research about W. C. Fields, real name William Claude Dukenfield, here are some things I discovered:

1: His will had a strange provision.

It provided for the “W. C. Fields College for orphan white boys and girls, where no religion of any sort is to be preached.” That’s a lot to unpack. While it appears Fields might not have hated all kids he seemed pretty specific about what kids he wanted to help. But there’s more.

During his life, he had actually went out of his way to help blacks. There are a couple of theories as to why Fields had that strange provision in his will. Overall, it doesn't seem like a Mel Gibson/Jewish sort of thing.

Ultimately, that provision of the will was overturned and no college was established. The whole thing is reminiscent of “ The Derek Zoolander Center for Children Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too.”

Finally, some money from his estate did end up helping some white orphans with their education

2: Carlotta Monti, Fields’ mistress, ultimately received $3,850 from his estate.

Monti appeared in a number of movies, usually playing the same character, “unbilled.”

3: Fields’ widow ultimately came out with a pretty good haul.

She came away with $300,000. His widow, Hattie and Fields had separated by 1907 and he died in 1946. Throughout those almost 40 years, they communicated through letters. Fields did continue to support her financially. During life and beyond.

4: Fields’ red, bulbous…

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Larrylambert

You probably don't know my name, but have likely seen my work. I'va written for numerous syndicated cartoon strips and my gags have appeared in national pubs.