W. C. Fields

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Never give a sucker an even break.

W. C. Fields (29 January 188025 December 1946), born William Claude Dukenfield, was an American Actor and Comedian.

Sourced[edit]

  • Here lies W. C. Fields. I would rather be living in Philadelphia.
    • This was an epitaph Fields proposed for himself in a 1925 article in Vanity Fair. It refers to his long standing jokes about Philadelphia (his actual birthplace), and the grave being one place he might actually not prefer to be. This is often repeated as "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.", or "All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." which he might have stated at other times. It has also sometimes been distorted into a final dig at Philadelphia: "Better here than in Philadelphia." Field's actual tomb at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California simply reads "W. C. Fields 1880 - 1946".
  • Never give a sucker an even break.
    • Collier's (28 November 1925) Fields is said to have used this line as early as 1923 in the musical comedy play 'Poppy'. It became the title of one of his films in 1941 (and Fields' character also spoke this line in the sound film version of Poppy (1938) and in You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1940)).
  • Whilst traveling through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew. Had to live on food and water for several days.
    • My Little Chickadee (1940)
  • I was in love with a beautiful blonde once, dear. She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I'm so indebted to her for.
    • Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)
    • Variant: 'Twas a woman who drove me to drink. I never had the courtesy to thank her.
  • I didn't squawk about the steak, dear. I merely said I didn't see that old horse that used to be tethered outside here.
    • To a waitress, in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)
  • I never voted for anybody. I always voted against.
    • As recounted by Robert Lewis Taylor in W.C. Fields: His Follies and Fortunes
    • Variant: I never vote for anyone; I always vote against.
  • Back in my rummy days, I would tremble and shake for hours upon arising. It was the only exercise I got.
    • The Temperance Lecture
  • I'd rather have two girls at twenty-one each, than one girl at forty-two.
    • You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1940)
  • Some contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch...
    • You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1940)
  • If a thing is worth having, it's worth cheating for.
    • My Little Chickadee (1940)
  • "She's all dressed up like a well-kept grave."
    • In reference to Jan Duggan's character in The Old Fashioned Way (1934)
  • "And it ain't a fit night out for man nor beast."
    • The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933). Fields adapts an English proverb that was popular in the 17th century. (James Howell, English Proverbs (1659): "When the wind is in the east it is good for neither man nor beast"; John Ray, English Proverbs (1670): "When the wind's in the East, It's neither good for man nor beast." In rhyming "east" with "beast" the proverb refers to weather patterns in the British isles.)


Misattributed[edit]

  • Anyone who hates children and dogs can't be all bad.
    • Although a very commonly attributed to Fields himself, this is derived from a statement which was actually first said about him by Leo Rosten during a "roast" at the Masquer's Club in Hollywood in 1939, as Rosten explains in his book, The Power of Positive Nonsense (1977) "The only thing I can say about W. C. Fields ... is this: Any man who hates dogs and babies can't be all bad."
    • Variant: Anyone who hates babies and dogs can't be all bad.

External links[edit]

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