The Theater: Gentle Grifter

Neither age, pain, nor liquor had dulled the intent and raffish gleam in his eye. His distrust of property men, doctors and small children was undiminished. His voracious love of life and laughs had not failed, and he still eyed the world with the spurious heartiness of a man with an ace up his sleeve. But his body was flabby and old, and his fiery, bulbous nose had become a shocking badge of suffering. Last week, after 67 years, death finally hoodwinked W. C. Fields, the noblest confidence man of them all.

His career had lasted more than half a century. He...

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