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W. C. Fields’ Ziegfeld Follies-used crooked pool cue prop, shown with a provenance letter from Red Skelton, which sold for $7,500 ($9,375 with buyer’s premium) at Potter & Potter March 28.

W. C. Fields’ crooked pool cue prop pockets almost $10K at Potter & Potter

CHICAGO – A stage-used ‘crooked’ pool cue prop owned by legendary entertainer W. C. Fields (1880-1946) came to market at Potter & Potter March 28 as part of its 625-lot Entertainment, Toys & Collectibles sale. Full results for the auction can be seen at LiveAuctioneers.

The cue was a prop employed by Fields in his routine with comedian Ed Wynn during Fields’ first year with the Ziegfeld Follies in New York. Running from 1907 through 1931 with later revivals, the follies were elaborate theatrical revues featuring dancing girls who would parade around dressed as literally anything, from “birds to battleships,” according to PBS’ Ziegfeld Biography. Notably, famed 20th-century designer Erté served as a designer on the Follies.

When Wynne was getting laughs from under a pool table while Fields was shooting, Fields would “smack Ed Wynn over the head during” the bit, according to accounts from the time.

The cue was consigned with a typewritten and signed letter from entertainer Red Skelton (1913-1997), who received it as a gift from Fields prior to his passing. Skelton wrote the letter to magician Tom Mullica, who was given the cue – and clear provenance – by Skelton on February 20, 1984. Mullica kept the cue and letter until he sent it to auction in 2016.

Interestingly, Skelton ends the provenance letter with a then-timely opinion about comedian Eddie Murphy, whose career was skyrocketing. “You mention Eddy [sic] Murphy, you are right, he is filthy.” Estimated at $1,000-$2,000, two dozen bids took the cue to pool shark heaven, hammering at $7,500 ($9,375 with buyer’s premium).