You're gonna see lips, like you've never seen before,
You're gonna see hips, you'll remember ever more,
You're gonna see passion, that'll set your pulses on fire!
You're gonna see fashion, not many women acquire.
And when you put them all together, what do you see?
Fascinating, Intoxicating, Scintillating, Captivating - stunning me!

You're gonna see eyes; like you've never dreamed before,
You're gonna see thighs, that could start another war —
And when you put them all together, what do you see?
You see adorable, wonderful, beautiful, sexy me!

(excerpt) the morbidly obese Totie Fields, lyrics from "Stunning Me" original music
with orchestra for Las Vegas revue ca. 1971

Totie Fields (May 7, 1930 — August 2, 1978) American comedian, singer and actress. Fields was famous for her self-effacing humor, ad-lib wit and ebullient good humor. All her life she battled a weight problem, (she weighed 200 pounds and was only five feet tall) but instead of letting it get her down incorporated it into her act with great results. She never used obscene humor but her use of double entendre was extensive. In addition to stand up comedy, she was a talented singer who could tackle serious ballads but mostly enjoyed regaling audiences with humorous songs written for her performances.

Shirley Temple had charisma as a child. But it cleared up as an adult.

— Totie Fields

Sophie Feldman was born in Hartford, Connecticut. The family moved to Boston not long after and she started singing in clubs in Boston at a very young age. She began a serious career in comedy in the famous "Borscht Belt" in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Their were nightly shows at these resorts, which catered to a predominately Jewish clientele.

I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is fourteen days.

— Totie Fields

She stole the above joke from comic Joe E. Lewis. Lewis's version was, "My doctor told me I was fat and I drank too much; so I went on the wagon for a week, and on a diet for a week. You know what I lost? Fourteen days."

She was brought to the attention of Ed Sullivan show after he saw her performing in a New York City night club. She was a hit and went on to appear on Sullivan's show forty times. When not appearing in Las Vegas or New York night clubs, she appeared on television talk shows, including the Mike Douglas Show and frequented the Merv Griffin show.

The versatile Fields wrote a funny diet book entitled "I Think I'll Start on Monday: The Official 8 1/2 oz. Mashed Potato Diet (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1972).

Do you like to shop? Ya like to bargain? I do. The other day I bought 20 pairs of panty hose for fifteen cents a piece. They had the seam running up the front. What can you do? I figured I'd learn to walk backwards.

— Totie Fields

She suffered myriad health problems toward the end of her life. In April of 1976, her left leg was amputated above the knee due to phlebitis. She surprised and delighted fans when shortly after she was fitted with a prosthetic leg she starred in a special on the then-brand-new HBO network. The program began with Fields seated in a wheelchair. During the initial applause, her audience roared and gave her a standing ovation when she stood up. She could laugh at her problems; an attribute that endeared her to millions. By 1977, breast cancer necessitated a mastectomy. She got back to work quickly, as always. A somewhat slimmer Fields even joked about the emaciation: "I've waited all my life to say this; I weigh less than Elizabeth Taylor". She refused to allow people to feel sorry for her.

Famed comedienne Totie Fields returns to the stage for a special HBO presentation in which she offers a good-humored look at her frequent health problems while surrounded on all sides by the friends and family who saw her through the hard times. In using her numerous maladies as a source of humor, Fields shows courage in the face of adversity and offers a life-affirming stage show that is alternately hilarious and deeply moving.

— Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

1978 brought two awards from the American Guild of Variety Artists: "Entertainer of the Year" and "Female Comedy Star of the Year."

Would you like to wake up every day with a smile on your face? Go to sleep every night with a clothes hanger in your mouth.

— Totie Fields

Sadly, Fields suffered a fatal heart attack in Las Vegas on August 2, 1978. She is interred in the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Fields's fans can catch a glimpse of her in tapes of the popular Dean Martin "Celebrity Roast" series, in which she appeared frequently as a guest. Non-released appearances include "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In," "The Bob Hope Show," "The Tony Orlando and Dawn Show," "The Lucy Show," a dramatic appearance on "Medical Center," as well as her myriad talk show appearances.

Two sources for this writeup hypothesize that Fields's husband, George William Johnston, who died in 1995, had refused to release films, tapes, and other recordings from Fields for reasons unknown, therefore the dearth of material by Fields available for purchase. Perhaps because George (who frequently attended her shows and traveled everywhere with her) was crushed by her early death (at only age 48) he felt it crass to capitalize on her body of work. Their two daughters, evidently, have continued to carry out his wishes that none of Totie's recorded material be released.

The headstone on their grave is touching; it reads "It takes two to make one."

SOURCES:

  • ThinkExist.com: http://thinkexist.com/quotes/totie_fields/ (accessed 1/1/07)
  • Answers.com: http://www.answers.com/topic/on-location-with-totie-fields (accessed 1/1/07)
  • "Comedy College" NPR (archives): http://comedycollege.publicradio.org/archive/fields_totie.shtml (accessed 1/1/07) - includes a wonderful RealAudio piece with clips narrated by Bob Newhart
  • "Seeing Stars" website: http://www.seeing-stars.com/imagepages/TotieFieldsGravePhoto.shtml (accessed 1/1/07)
  • Laugh.com http://www.laugh.com/main_pages/comicpage.asp?cid=291 (accessed 1/1/07)
  • IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1172060/ (accessed 1/1/07)
  • Smith, Ronald L., "Who's Who in Comedy" (pp. 159-160)  New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387

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