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February 5, 1898|
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||September 28, 1975
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Sidney Fields (February 5, 1898 — September 28, 1975), born Sidney H. Feldman, was a comedy actor and writer best known for his featured role on The Abbott and Costello Show in the 1940s (radio) and early 1950s (television). He was sometimes credited as "Sid Fields" or "Sidney Field".
Fields was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 5, 1898. He began his career when he was a boy, by working in local theaters. As a teenager, he worked in carnivals and tent shows in the Midwest, and later became partner in a comedy team with vaudeville and burlesque performer Jack Greenman. The team was cast by Harold Minsky in his family's celebrated burlesque theater. The team split up when Fields headed for Hollywood to work on a feature film.
In the ensuing years, Fields performed on stage, radio, and occasionally in movies. He worked with Eddie Cantor as a writer and actor, and then with Ben Blue, Rudy Vallee, Fred Allen, and Milton Berle.
Fields appeared in small roles in 1930s film comedies, the first being Cantor's Strike Me Pink in 1935, and sometimes received screen credits as a writer and assistant director. In 1945, he began working in Abbott and Costello's radio shows, where he started his Professor Melonhead character, and in their movies. From 1951, he supported Abbott and Costello in NBC-TV's The Colgate Comedy Hour, and in 1952, he was cast in the team's filmed series, The Abbott and Costello Show. The show ran for two seasons and played in syndication for decades.
Fields played a prominent supporting role as "Mr. Fields," the hot-tempered, bald-headed landlord of the rooming house where Abbott and Costello lived. He was a frequent target of gags and schemes foisted by the two main characters. Fields played numerous other roles as well, almost always wearing a wig or other disguise. (These characters were often relatives of Mr. Fields the landlord.) He also wrote some of the episodes. Fields was part of an ensemble cast that included Hillary Brooke as a neighbor and love interest of Lou Costello's, Gordon Jones as Mike the Cop, who was a dimwitted comedic foil for the boys, Joe Besser as Stinky Davis, a 40-year-old man dressed in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, and Joe Kirk as Mr. Bacciagalupe, an Italian immigrant caricature who ran a bakery store.
One time when Bud Abbott was unable to perform due to illness, Sidney Fields, playing his role of Professor Melonhead, took Abbott's straight-man role in the skit "Who's on First?". The idea, with Abbott being sick, was that Professor Melonhead was managing the baseball team.
He played small parts in the Abbott and Costello movies "Mexican Hayride", "Little Giant", and "Naughty Nineties"
- Cullen, Frank (2007). Vaudeville Old & New - An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. 1. New York: Routledge. p. 383. ISBN 0-415-93853-8. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
- Fields & Costello routine, from the Walgreens 44th anniversary special (on radio).