The Elusive Spondulix.

Still of W.C. Fields and Jan Duggan.
Still of W.C. Fields and Jan Duggan in You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939).

One of the great biographies of Fields titled W.C. Fields: His Follies and Fortunes written by a fellow named Robert Louis Taylor garnered my adjective “great” because the guy wrote beautifully, albeit inaccurately. He perpetuated myths, often concocted by “The Great Man” himself and other non-facts spun from rumors, tall tales and simply lies. Early on in my research of my grandfather, this rumor about bank accounts under his pseudonyms made no sense to me. I had a bank account, way back when, and whenever I needed to access it I had to present some form of identification. Fields had no driver's license, let's say, with Larsen E. Whipsnade or any other alias scrawled across it. So I rejected out right the AKA aspect of this tale. Besides sporting more than trace amounts of parsimony in his DNA, W.C. would never put “the elusive spondulix” in a place he could not access without the requisite identification. A few years later I met and interviewed Fields' secretary, Magna Michael, and she confirmed to me that her boss not only knew exactly how much money he deposited throughout the world under his own name, but he calculated the interest that accrued over the years nearly to the penny. He opened these accounts while travelling the globe in vaudeville. He often received his salary in cash and feared carrying such large sums on his person, thus he would open accounts in cities where he performed and got paid.

Apropos, legend has it that John Barrymore and W.C. Fields one evening while participating in their daily toasts, had the radio on that announced that war with Germany seemed imminent. Barrymore turns to Fields and says, “Don't you have $10,000 in Berlin? Aren't you worried about its safety?” Fields responds, “Not really, suppose the son of a bitch wins.”