Archive for July, 2010

WC Fields at the Sunderland Empire

Friday, July 9th, 2010

This week I’ve got another of the multi-coloured posters from the Sunderland Empire featuring a big star, W.C. Fields who appeared in the week of October 12 1908:

WC Fields at the Sunderland Empire Poster - From the Tyne & Wear Archives

From the Tyne & Wear Archives

Of course Fields was a well known star of the Vaudeville stage before he went on to find success in films. A lot of his stage routine can be seen in his film ‘The Old Fashioned Way’.

There were some other treats on the bill that night though – I’d love to see what Conway & Leland “the Cheerful Monopedes” did. I’ve seen them billed elsewhere as “one-legged acrobats” – that’s a fairly specialist gimmick! Also notice that Glee isn’t the new phenomenon that some people might have you believe.

William Claude may have headlined in Sunderland, but  he’s certainly not the big hit at the Newcastle Empire the following year, as this article from the Newcastle Journal and Courant of August 21 1909 shows:

WC Fields at the Newcastle Empire - Newcastle Weekly Journal and Courant August 21 1909 Article - From Newcastle City Library

From Newcastle City Library

While the “programme has a bright star in Mr W. C. Fields, a very clever and original eccentric juggler” they’re much more interested in the antics of “Consul, the anthropoid ape”. Fields was well known for his short temper; imagine his reaction to being upstaged by a monkey!