As we blogged here over the weekend, Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of W.C. Fields’ debut with the Ziegfeld Follies, where over the course of just over a decade he would explore and develop his stage persona in a series of self-penned comedy sketches. To mark the occasion last night W.C. Fields Productions (Ron, Allen and Harriet, the current generation of Fieldses) teamed up with Disney Theatricals (present owners of the New Amsterdam Theatre, longtime home of the Ziegfeld Follies), to present an intimate commemorative program in the New Amsterdam lounge.
Buddy Ben Model was there — silent film accompanist, exhibitor, scholar and general all-around ambassador of all things silent comedy.
Dana Almendola, VP of Operations for Disney Theatrical Group, our generous host, who talked about restoration of the theatre. It was a shambles in the 1980s, with two feet of water on the floor, mushrooms growing in the walls and pigeons roosting in the rafters. He was one of the key figures in its present glorious restoration (see photos above).
Harriet Fields, W.C. Fields’s only grand-daughter, and the one and only Dick Cavett, guest star of the evening. This is the second time in a year we’ve attended an event with him (the first being Marxfest last year). Cavett wrote a glowing new intro for the timely re-issue of Fields’ hilarious book W.C. Fields for President.
Ronald J. Fields, the world’s foremost Fields expert (and W.C.’s grandson). He did not know he was related to the Great Man until he was 12 years old! His many books about Fields are being re-issued in the coming months.
Arthur Frank Wertheim, author of the new book W.C. Fields: From Burlesque and Vaudeville to Broadway, which folks are calling the most authoritative to date.
With Harriet as moderator, Ron and Arthur led the assembled through a chronology of Fields’ career from its inception through his entry into talkies, with a special emphasis on material he performed at the Follies and other revues, such as his pool, golf and dentist routines. Mr. Cavett chimed in with anecdotes and appreciations mostly of folks he’d met who either knew Fields (such as Mae West and film producer/ screenwriter Paul M. Jones) or those who merely loved him (Kenneth Tynan, Woody Allen etc). A slide show and film clips enhanced the experience.
Buddy Bob Greenberg, as always making his presence felt, during the Q & A.
A much better angle on Cavett!
MANY MORE W.C. Fields events are coming up in the coming months in honor of this auspicious centennial (and that of his first film Pool Sharks). To stay on top of it all, check in with W.C. Fields Productions here: www.wcfields.com.