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February 21, 1895|
New York City
March 4, 1966|
Beverly Hills, California
Life and career
Fields was born in New York City, the son of vaudevillean Lew Fields. He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and attended New York University before enrolling in the American Expeditionary Force during World War I, after which he remained in Paris until 1922. His early writing career was spent churning out screenplays for mostly B-movies, beginning with The Big Shot in 1931.
Fields made his Broadway debut in 1938 with the play Schoolhouse on the Lot, co-written with Jerome Chodorov, who became a frequent collaborator. The prolific pair went on to write My Sister Eileen (1940), Junior Miss (1941), The French Touch (1945), Wonderful Town (1953), The Girl in Pink Tights (1954), Anniversary Waltz (1954), and The Ponder Heart (1956). They also wrote the screenplay for the 1942 film adaptation of My Sister Eileen.
With Anita Loos, Fields wrote the book for the Jule Styne musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and he collaborated with Oscar Hammerstein II on the book for Flower Drum Song. He also co-produced and wrote the screen adaptation of the latter, garnering a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for Best Written American Musical.
Fields won the Tony Award for Best Musical for Wonderful Town and was nominated in the same category for Flower Drum Song.
Fields was the brother of writer/lyricist Dorothy and writer Herbert. He died in Beverly Hills; according to his obituary in The New York Times, "Joseph Fields...died here last night...Mr. Fields lived in New York but was wintering in California when he died."
- According to the State of California. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Searchable at http://www.ancestry.com/
- Special to the New York Times, Beverley Hills, California, March 4, 1966, "Joseph Fields, 71, Dies on Coast; Co-Author of 'My Sister Eileen'", March 5, 1966, p. 20