Carlotta Monti, W.C. Fields’ Longtime Companion, Dead At 86
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Carlotta Monti, an actress whose stormy relationship with W.C. Fields was chronicled in an autobiography and movie, has died. She was 86.
She died Wednesday at the Motion Picture and Television Home and Hospital in suburban Woodland Hills after a long illness, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. The hospital did not announce the cause of death.
Monti, the vivacious actress who appeared in such films as ″The Merry Widow,″ the original ″Ben Hur″ and ″One Night of Love,″ was Fields’ companion from 1933 until his death in 1946.
Their relationship was the subject of the 1976 movie ″W.C. Fields and Me,″ starring Rod Steiger as Fields and Valerie Perrine as Miss Monti. It was based on Miss Monti’s book about the couple’s tumultuous years together.
Miss Monti once told interviewers how Fields had hired a private investigator to follow her because he was jealous, and disputed his reputation as a heavy drinker. ″I never saw him drunk,″ she said.
It wasn’t until Fields died that she achieved fame - through her struggle for a part of his $770,000 estate. She spent years fighting Fields’ estranged wife and relatives, including some who claimed to be illegitimate children.
Her court appearances became so frequent that in 1949 a Los Angeles Superior Court judge designated July 27 as ″Carlotta Monti Day″ to devote the entire day to requests she had made.
In the end, Miss Monti was awarded two trust funds that paid her about $50 a week; she said the money ran out in 1954. Her 20-year stint as a technician for Technicolor ended in 1972.
In a 1968 interview, Miss Monti said she wasn’t bitter.
″Here I am, 22 years later, living in a dive, working in a factory, but for 14 years I was a millionaire,″ she said.