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on 8 April 2006
Finally, THE definitive biography of one of the most revered figures ever to appear on the world stage or step before a motion picture camera. While there've been almost two dozen books about Fields published already (mostly filmographies, quote books, picture books or screenplays), this collection is essential for several important reasons. First of all, it's one of the best biographies of a film personality ever written. Head and shoulders above Simon Louvish's sluggish MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE, more ambitious than Ronald J. Fields' collection of letters and radio scripts (W.C. FIELDS BY HIMSELF), on a literary par with Robert Lewis Taylor's brilliant W.C. FIELDS: HIS FOLLIES AND FORTUNES (but without that author's fictional flights of fancy), James Curtis turns out to be the ideal biographer of the iconoclastic comedian.

Setting the record straight regarding volumes of Fieldsian apocrypha, the legend remains intact whilst the enigmatic man behind it emerges for perhaps the first time in print. Full of nostalgia, fascinating revelations about Fields' working methods and creative approach to filmmaking, scandalous professional behavior, revealing personal data, heretofore unsuspected alliances (it comes as no surprise that Fields was a fan and drinking pal of his temperamental soulmate, H.L. Mencken), and many, many wonderful anecdotes. The ideal book to curl up with on a winter's eve (when it ain't a fit night out for man nor beast), with the necessary pitcher-full of your favorite "snake bite remedy," as Fields would say. (He'd also recommend you always carry a small snake...) A worthy tribute to a giant of American comedy. ***** 5 stars, easy.
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on 20 May 2015
Not what I was expecting.rather fragmented.
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on 27 January 2012
Mr Curtis has produced the definitive biography of a talented and complex man. Highly detailed and superbly researched this book gives an in depth insight into a career which stretched almost 60 years and progressed through burlesque, vaudeville, film, and radio. As with the other Curtis biographies this is written for the reader who has a real interest in the subject. This is not a lightweight or trivial depiction but fans of a wonderful comedian will be ably rewarded.
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on 12 May 2013
I really did not know of this book at all, somehow it just simply slipped the net, having said that, it took only a minute to get a copy. It arrived after a bit, having travelled all the way from the U.S. of A. and, I couldn't wait to begin the read. Full of surprising facts and legendary events. His early life, the relationships, the down sides, the up sides and the perfecting and, ultimate outmoding of his style and act through so called 'progress'.
I leave other reviewers to itemize the contents, but they are all spot on, the best book on the man. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Great W.C. Fields. He never fails to bring a smile or, a guffaw from me.......
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on 9 December 2012
A very comprehensive account of the life and times of Bill Fields, from his difficult childhood, through his days as a vaudeville performer to Hollywood movie star. A man by turns, difficult, stubborn and rude, but also a likeable rogue who wasn't always as curmudgeonly as his screen persona suggests. Lots of details about the man and his work.
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on 1 July 2013
Like many I had heard all of the legends about the man, but this book certaily debunked a lot of the hype. He comes across as a complex yet flawed individual and the book is far more interesting than a lot of the showbiz stories which have been bandied about for years.
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on 6 February 2013
I enjoyed this book the only complaint I had was, it took to long
In telling you how he got a break,although his family were on the stage
He really was good with Mae West.
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