|Subject: Reading her NY Times Obit, it was sad to read how she suffered in the end. ...
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Date Posted: Friday, August 03, 12:51:51pm
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Bio & PHOTO
's message, "ARCHIVE: August 2, 1978 ~Hard to believe it's now 40 years since the passing of one of America's most talented stand-up comediennes TOTIE FIELDS, who died after years of health issues (including mastectomy, amputation) at age 48. …" on Friday, August 03, 11:35:12am
Totie Fields dead at 48. ...
NY Times / By C. GERALD FRASER
AUG. 3, 1978
Totie Fields, the raucous voiced nightclub comedienne whose jokes about her obesity and whose struggle to resume her career after the amputation of her left leg two years ago won her the affection of millions, died yesterday in Las Vegas, Nev. She was 48 years old and lived in Las Vegas and in Los Angeles.
A statement issued by her family said that Miss Fields died in her home at about 7 A.M. of apparent heart failure. Attempts by paramedics to revive her at home failed, the statement said, and she was taken to Sunrise Hospital, where further attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful.
Miss Fields had undergone surgery several times within the last two years, the statement also said. In addition to the removal of her leg, she had breast and eye surgery. She also suffered two heart attacks.
Miss Fields's leg was removed at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, reportedly because of phlebitis, and she later used an artificial limb. In April, she filed a lawsuit seeking $2 million in damages from seven physicians and St. Joseph Hospital in Stamford, Conn., because of the loss of her leg. She went to St. Joseph Hospital for cosmetic surgery on an eyelid and developed phlebitis, the suit said. At her death, the suit had not been resolved.
Continued to Perform ...
She was seen earlier this year by Home Box Office television viewers in a program titled "Totie Returns". In the last years of her life she continued to perform throughout the country, and especially at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas.
In January, she was named Entertainer of the Year by her colleagues. Receiving the award, she told the Sahara Hotel audience, "I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me."
Totie Fields was short and overweight. She was about 4 feet 11 inches in height, and weighed 170 pounds. She once said: "I come right ,out and say, "I'm fat!" This deprives the wise alecks from mouthing loud asides all night, "Gosh, she's fat, as they glim"
Miss Fields earned recognition in New York in the early 1960's after what critics described as a "slambang" appearance at the Copacabana. She had come to New York from Boston and labored unheralded for three years. Her highly praised Copa performance won her spots on CBSTV's "Ed Sullivan Show," where she appeared more than two dozen times.
She worked in nightclubs across the nation. "I must do clubs," she once said, "That's where I get the feeling for this business."
As one of the nation's premier comics, she earned in the 1960's $200,000 a year. She drove a Lincoln Continental and was not reluctant to drape herself in an azurine mink coat or some other fabulous fur.
ˇ°I break all the rules,ˇ± she once explained. ˇ°and wear everything. Ruffles, ostrich feathers, fox coats. You look fat in fox anyway, so if you start fat, you only look a little fatter.
At one time, she said, she spent about $100,000 for her personal and professional wardrobe and she thought then that it would be a good idea to produce a Totie Fields line of fat women's clothes with sizes 3, 5 and 7. ˇ°Mentally it will make us feel better,ˇ± she said.
She was a diabetic and she said that she did not eat the amount of food that was manifested in her size. "I go for bagels and cream cheese. My ruination is that I'd rather eat a loaf of bread than a steak. I know I'm never going to be thin again and I'm, happy. I think I'm precious at this weight."
Began as a Singer ...
While in high school, she began her career as a singer in clubs in the Boston area where she was growing up. She was born in Hartford, but moved to Boston as a child. Her real name was Sophie Feldman. She adopted Totie because she said that was the way she pronounced Sophie when she was small. Later she switched from Feldman to Fields "a show business gesture," she said.
Her "Totie Returns" television performance was a recording of her performance before a celebrity©\filled audience in Las Vegas. John J. O'Connor, television critic of The New York Times, wrote then:
"The portrait of a resilient and determined performer is most affecting, ironically, when interviewing Miss Fields offstage. She speaks quietly and admirably of her ordeal and the support she received from her husband."
"Onstage," Mr. O'Connor continued, "Miss Fields's act was "tailored snugly to the demands of Las Vegas."
Miss Fields is survived by her husband, George Johnston; her daughters, Mrs. Bill (Jody) Childress and Debbie Johnston; a sister, Rose Youlovsky, and brother, Eddie Feldman.
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