On the Important Cultural Role Played by W.C. Frito

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As we’ve already noted, today is the birthday of W.C. Fields! For my full biographical article on Fields go here, and for my entire W.C. Fields section on Travalanche (nearly 100 posts to date) go here. 

Now…while Fields is one of my favorite comedians, I am far too young (by a factor of several decades) to have experienced him in vaudeville, on Broadway, on live radio, or in his films when they were first run. Like many people, I first got to know him through the great classic comedy revival of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Hippies loved W.C. Fields’ hedonistic, anti-social comedy character. Still, I was a small child during those years. I didn’t discover his films until high school (the early 1980s).

HENCE, my introduction to W.C. Fields, as with almost every kid of my age came through a cartoon character, a mascot for Frito’s Corn Chips named W.C. Frito. This was VERY big with the eight year olds circa 1972. And, yes, indeed, I owned many of the W.C. Frito’s pencil erasers they gave away as prizes in the packages. They looked like this, and I wouldn’t have a heart attack if I still have one in an old box of keepsakes:

wcfritos

The posters (above) were also very popular. And now here for your delectation, is a 1972 tv ad — my first exposure to the comedy of W.C. Fields, even if it was second hand:

For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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