Fields, Ronald J.
FIELDS, Ronald J.
Married; wife's name, Pamela; children: Chelsea, Alexander.
Agent—c/o Prentice Hall, One Lake St., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458.
Writer and producer. National Broadcasting Company, Inc. (NBC), staff writer for comedy Marblehead Manor; American Movie Classics (cable channel), head writer; vice president of development, Hollywood on Air.
Emmy Award for outstanding informational special, 1986, for W. C. Fields Straight Up.
W. C. Fields by Himself: His Intended Autobiography, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1973.
W. C. Fields: A Life on Film, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1984.
(With Shaun O'L. Higgins) Never Give a Sucker an Even Break: W. C. Fields on Business, Prentice Hall Press (Paramus, NJ), 2000.
(And producer) W. C. Fields Straight Up (teleplay), Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), 1986.
Also author of screenplays Run Buddy Run, Vietnam Visions, and Petals of the Chrysanthemum.
Television writer Ronald J. Fields, grandson of actor W. C. Fields, found he had become his family's unofficial archivist and historian. As such, he became a valuable resource when the PBS network decided to produce a special on W. C. Fields's life and work. The network contacted Fields, who was able to provide them with vintage photographs, memorabilia, home movies, audio recordings, correspondence, and family memories of the actor. The show, W. C. Fields Straight Up, was originally broadcast in March 1986 and won an Emmy for outstanding informational special.
Interestingly, although Fields was intimately involved in the production of the film, he never met his famous grandfather, and for many years he was unaware that he was related to the actor. There were no photos of the actor in his family's home, and when he visited his grandmother, she did not have any belongings that would have indicated to whom she had been married. According to Andrew Miller in City Paper, Fields recalled watching an old W. C. Fields movie on television with his sister and laughing at the actor's antics. "That W. C. Fields is the funniest man who ever lived!," he told his sister. She replied, "You don't get it, do you? That's our grandfather."
Fields decided to find out all he could about his well-known grandfather and his career. This interest led to his involvement in the film as well as a biography, W. C. Fields by Himself: His Intended Autobiography, and a filmography, W. C. Fields: A Life on Film. Of this last work, John Nangle wrote in Films in Review that it "is surely the definitive book about the work of that great, bulbous-nosed misanthrope." A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book "by far the best reference" on W. C. Fields.
Fields also cowrote Never Give a Sucker an Even Break: W. C. Fields on Business. The book features quotes on finance and business from the films of the famously verbose, cynical, and financially savvy actor, such as "Start every day with a smile and get it over with," and "You can't cheat an honest man." A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that at times, this hunt for quotations seems a bit stretched, but wrote that although the book is not a wellspring of management wisdom, the quotes are amusing, and "as a source of Fields's one-liners and filmography …the book is helpful."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2000, David Rouse, review of Never Give a Sucker an Even Break: W. C. Fields on Business, p. 843; July, 2002, Candace Smith, review of W. C. Fields Straight Up, p. 1864.
Chicago Sun-Times, September 8, 1986, review of W. C. Fields Straight Up, p. 51.
Film Quarterly, summer, 1985, review of W. C. Fields: A Life on Film, p. 38.
Films in Review, February, 1985, John Nangle, review of W. C. Fields: A Life on Film, p. 118.
Los Angeles Times, March 7, 1986, Lee Margulies, review of W. C. Fields Straight Up, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, September 28, 1984, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of W. C. Fields: A Life on Film, p. 110.
USA Today, March, 1990, review of W. C. Fields Straight Up, p. 97.
City Paper Web site,http://citypaper.net/ (February 3-10, 2000), Andrew Milner, review of Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. *