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Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Life and…

Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Life and Times of W. C. Fields

by Simon Louvish

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602197,694 (3.82)3



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A detailed biography that tries to get to the truth of all the stories Fields told about his origins, and to the man behind the persona he created. Louvish had access to voluminous scrapbooks that Fields kept of all his appearances and to family papers, and he did exhaustive research in to archives at the Library of Congress and other places to seek out old scripts for vaudeville skits, studio correspondence, etc., etc. There are a lot of transcripts of routines (some reviewers didn’t like this, which I found puzzling – surely if you’re reading this, you like Fields and get a kick out of these.) There are great portraits of Eddie Cantor, Bert Williams, Fanny Brice, and others not well known today.
I hadn’t realized that Fields had such a long career as a juggler or that he’d traveled the world in that role for years before he became the comedian we recognize now. I liked it a lot and it was a perfect airplane and poolside book. The last part of Fields’ life wasn’t as well described as I would have liked but overall it was great. Apparently this was the go-to Fields biography for several years but now it’s been superseded by James Curtis’ W. C Fields. I’d like to read that one too. ( )
  piemouth | Feb 6, 2015 |
Probably one of the worst biographies I've ever read. Three inches thick, and I don't feel like I know much more about W. C. Fields than I did to start with (which wasn't much). If you want pages of script dialogue, constant comparisons between his stage sketches and scenes in his movies, and totally wrong historical information, this is the book for you. This author is the most pompous and self-aggrandizing hack I've ever experienced.

Totally not recommended. ( )
  tloeffler | Jan 31, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393318400, Paperback)

"[Fields] was his own greatest creation, and in Louvish, this complicated artist has finally found the biographer he deserves."—Malcolm Jones, Jr., Newsweek

Man on the Flying Trapeze is the first biography in decades — and the only accurate one — of the beloved cinematic curmudgeon and inimitable comic genius W. C. Fields. Simon Louvish brilliantly sifts through evidence of Fields's own self-creation to illuminate the vaudeville world from which Fields sprang and his struggles with studios and censors to make his hilarious films-in the process confirming suspicions (yes, he did drink) and confounding them (he doted on his grandchildren). "One of the best movie biographies to come along in quite some time. . . . [A] book to cherish."—Film Review "[Man on the Flying Trapeze] nicely regales us with many vaudevillian stories. . . . Louvish does a heroic job."—Katharine Whittemore, New York Times Book Review "A rapturous, giddy, and irrepressible book. . . . Let us be clear: this is a delight, a marvel of research . . . and a superb argument for the case that William Claude Dukenfield was, and is, the greatest comic the movies have given us."—David Thomson "At last 'the Great Man' (as Fields called himself, accurately) has a great biography."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Illustrated

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:43 -0400)

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It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears....With the death of the monstrous King Joffrey, Cersei is ruling as regent in King's Landing. Robb Stark's demise has broken the back of the Northern rebels, and his siblings are scattered throughout the kingdom like seeds on barren soil. Few legitimate claims to the once desperately sought Iron Throne still exist--or they are held in hands too weak or too distant to wield them effectively. The war, which raged out of control for so long, has burned itself out.… (more)

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