W. C. Fields as carnival sideshow barker Gabby Gilfoil in a scene from the 1927 Paramount Pictures film Two Flaming Youths.
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W.C. Fields as a carnival sideshow announcer in a scene from the 1927 Paramount Pictures film, Two Flaming Youths.

Credit: Image Donated by Corbis-Bettmann

After dropping out of school by the age of eight, William Claude Dukenfeld worked as a stock boy, shill for a shell game, pool hustler, petty thief, and professional drowner in Atlantic City before landing his first full-time job as a juggler in a traveling show. Fields would draw on those youthful experiences to create some of the most memorable characters of his film career, including down-and-out carnival man Gabby Gilfoil in Two Flaming Youths.

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