Known for his on-screen turns as a cuddly con man, actor W.C. Fields, born on this day in 1880, was so in tune with the characters he played, it often became difficult to determine where the role ended and Fields himself began. By the age of 19 he had embarked on a successful juggling career, though his first true hit came in 1923 when he landed a role in the Broadway play â€œPoppy.â€ From there Fields became known for his many turns as a comic hustler, playing the role even in the films he wrote for himself. Before appearing in and writing the sound films The Bank Dick, Man on the Flying Trapeze and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, Fields was a vaudevillian actor seen in the silent films Pool Sharks and Sally of the Sawdust. In a rare dramatic appearance, the actor dedicated himself to the role of Mr. Micawber in George Cukorâ€™s 1935 adaptation of David Copperfield. He passed away on December 25, 1946 of complications from pneumonia.
Filmstar Factoid: W.C. Fields oftentimes supplied a fake name for a movieâ€™s credits, such as Charles Bogle, Otis Criblecoblis and Mahatma Kane Jeeves. This last name was a play on what he assumed a typical wealthy man would request of the butler before departing home: â€œMy hat, my cane, Jeeves.â€