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After scooping the world’s media (including the N.Y. Times) by hours on the News Corp.’s plan to split up,  this columnist decided to turn to “soft news.”  What could be more fun that bringing up the name of W.C. Fields, the iconic comedian?  Years before he was to appear as Captain Andy in “Showboat” at the Muny, where he hid bottles of hootch in the trees, he grew up poor and sleeping huddled in doorways in all weather.  It got to the point he could only relax and sleep in a barber chair, so he would splurge on hot shaves.  By the time he was a headliner in vaudeville, Fields found that though his wallet was now full, his nights were devoid of sleep because he could only get comfy in a barber chair, or stretched out on a pool table.  Such is the restful luxury of an old-fashioned barbershop shave with hot towels, rich hot lather and straight razor honed on a leather strap. At swanky Alexandra Salon inside the lobby of the Flamingo Resort in Las Vegas, an old-fashioned shave costs $65, plus tip.  There’s better value and great service right here in St. Louis that would do W.C. Fields proud: At Mark LaPlante’s Blades on Washington Avenue, between Tucker and Eleventh Streets, the price for a lovely hot shave is just $19, plus tip for skilled shavers.  A third-generation stylist, Mark is approaching the third anniversary of opening Blades.  His dad, Jack, opened LaPlante School of Hairstyling in 1968.  Back then, barbers-to-be-trained in hot lather shaving used a straight razor to remove lather ever so gently from balloons.


90 Responses to “W.C. FIELDS AT THE MUNY”

  • Fosdick says:

    Bergermeister, I haven’t had an old-fashioned barber shop shave with a straight razor in years. I’m glad to know of a local barber still doing the shaves. When I was a college student at Mizzou, we used to line up on Saturday afternoons to get kissing smooth cheeks for our hot dates later that night. You are correct, it is old fashioned, but it is an affordable luxury and there is nothing like getting shaved by a pro.

  • mel says:

    Say Jerry, I have had the shaves at Blades. Sooooo relaxing. It’s great to feel squeaky clean and fresh after a hot lather shave, trim and shampoo.

    I love the information about W.C. Fields at the Muny. How splendid that he hid his booze around thee premises. W.C. Fields may be forgotten by the younger generation but his antics and his enjoyment of alcohol at least on the screen made him the Charlie Sheen of our grandparents’ generation. Fields was also a skilled juggler and a hilarious comedy writer who used made-up names for his screen credits like Larson E. Whipsnade. A true comedy treasure!

  • Mack Rheinhardt says:

    WC Fields was terrific. I was looking for something good on TV last night but it was all boring. After I read this I dug out my DVDs and found WC Fields’ The Dentist movie. It makes my sides hurt from laughing. One scene of Fields “treating” a long-legged woman in his dentist chair was reportedly censored at the time not because of anything we would find offensive today but because of the suggestiveness. Yes that was comedic genius back when drunken characters were considered funny and not politically incorrect.

  • Mack Rheinhardt says:

    I found that clip from The Dentist on YouTube. It is still a hoot!

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