Sidney Fields (February 5, 1898 — September 28, 1975), born Sidney H. Feldman, was an American comedic 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 in Hollywood when Fields was hired to work on a feature film with Eddie Cantor, Strike Me Pink (1936).
In the ensuing years, Fields performed on stage, radio, and occasionally in movies. He worked on Eddie Cantor’s radio show 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 and sometimes received screen credits as a writer and assistant director. Although he knew them from their burlesque days, Fields began working with Abbott and Costello in 1944, first in the film In Society (1944) and as a writer/performer on their radio series, where he introduced his Professor Melonhead character. From 1951 he supported Abbott and Costello on NBC-TV’s The Colgate Comedy Hour, and in 1952, he was cast in the team’s filmed series, The Abbott and Costello Show. He also wrote the majority of scripts for the first season.
Fields played 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 also played numerous other roles, almost always wearing a wig, moustache, glasses or other disguise. (These characters were often related to the landlord.) The ensemble cast 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 different small businesses, depending on the episode.
The show ran for two seasons and played in syndication for decades. After the show ended, Sidney played occasional small roles in television shows, and worked as a staff writer and comedian in Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine.
Fields retired to Las Vegas, where he died of lung cancer, on September 28, 1975, age 77.
Fields, playing his role of Professor Melonhead, performed “Who’s on First?” with Costello on Walgreen’s 44th anniversary radio special when Abbott was sick and unable to perform.
Jerry Seinfeld, a fan of the comedy team and TV series, volunteered to care for an elderly man named Sid Fields in a 1993 episode of Seinfeld called “The Old Man”.
Fields also played small parts in the Abbott and Costello movies “Mexican Hayride”, “Little Giant”, and “The Naughty Nineties.”