Legend has it that W.C. Fields said, “Anyone who hates babies and dogs can’t be all bad.”
While it’s debatable if the famed comic actually uttered those words, he wouldn’t have meant it, says his granddaughter, Dr. Harriet Fields.
“In fact, after his first grandchild was born, W.C. would baby-sit,” she says.
Another misconception she dispels is that Fields was always a heavy drinker. “He didn’t start drinking until he broke a vertebrae on the set in Hollywood in 1934, and painkillers weren’t helping, so he resorted to drinking,” Dr. Fields says.
She will offer more details about her grandfather — as a performer and a person — when she speaks at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington on June 20 at 7:30 p.m. following a screening of his silent comedy “It’s the Old Army Game” (1926). Live music by organist Ben Model will accompany the film. Though Fields died in 1946 shortly before Harriet was born, she’s felt a connection with him through his films.
“One of the things I love about him is his sweetness and gentleness,” she says. “He never gets angry, he never gets mean, he never hits. His comedy is about reality; it’s about everyday life.”
She and Fields’ other grandchildren are working to preserve their granddad’s legacy with their website, wcfields.com
“We want to make sure younger generations come to know W.C. Fields’ films,” she says. “His work is timeless.”