Fatty was Fatty .. plain and simple!! What you see is what you get - no bullshit!! The guy was a big bundle of sheer BRILLIANCE!! It is a sad sad fact that folks put celebs under a microscope. If a murder trial was going on in D.C., by some unknown who's name had never been heard of .. folks generally wouldn't give a damn. However - if that murderer just so happens to be a celebrity. People are tuning in constantly and media trucks are parked outside & on it like a fly on shit. Sometimes down right pushy to nose in. We generally put 'stars' on a higher plain than other people. Sometimes almost as if they are 'above' human. The fact is they are human and most live with the fact that when they go to the store, barber salon, or just out to get the morning paper ... at least one or two cameras will be snapping in the distance. Unfortunatly .. Roscoe was the first star to be caught up in 'star' scandal. Before he was aquitted - he was guilty by public opinion, and it ultimatly ended his carrer. To that end .. his quote?? "I don't understand it. One minute I'm the guy everybody loves, the next I'm the guy everybody loves to hate." Now-a-days - we know that is just the way the public is. Arbuckle was BORN to entertain! He had a gift to make folks laugh, still unseen today. Proven by him being the first celeb to earn a million dollars a year! ALL OF IT - gone because of public opinion .. over something that ALL evidence has ALWAYS pointed to that he didn't do. It has been rumored that a screenplay about his life floated around Hollywood for years but never got sold. At one point John Belushi was considered for the part, then John Candy, then Chris Farley. All three died suddenly and the script has been shelved indefinitely. Mark my words .. it will re-emerge some day. With that, his tragic story begins ...
Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle popped into the world March 24, 1887. in the smaalll city of Smith Center, in Kansas. From the start, he got a bad rap! Although he had a mom that was a hardworker..his dad was a MAJOR asshole! He was hefty, dad and mom were slim .. therefore his father sisn't want anything to do with him. He was a part in a line of 9 siblings in all & weighed a whopping 14 pounds at birth according to his birth certificate! The weight would imminantly grow with him (which deep down always bothered him greatly.) His first stage show was at 8 years of age and immediatly he was hooked!! He continued stage work until age 12 when his mom died and his dad, still not claiming him, refused to support him. Therefore - he was forced to work at age 12 to support himself. What a bad break!! Through it all - he did find work, and in the end, as we all know, he did emerge the winner. A big boost for his ego and a big screw you to his father I am sure ... While working in the hotel racket - Arbuckle frequently would sing as he worked. A guest of the hotel - and professional singer heard him and told him to enter a talent show. The obeject of the talent show was basically - if you were good .. you got a standing ovation. If you were sucky yucky - a crook would come and pull you off the stage. Arbuckle got up there and sang a few licks but didn't impress the audience. When he saw the crook coming out .. he did a 360 degree summersault into the orchestra pit. That, DID impress the crowd, and was the beginning of carrer that got Arbuckle back to what he missed doing as a kid - entertaining! In 1904, he was invited by Sid Grauman to sing in his new Unique Theater in Minneapolis (it seriously amazes me how many MN locals do not know the signifigance of this building..i took thison a trip I won to MN to see the Counting Crows.), which was the start of a long friendship between the two. He then joined the Pantages Theatre Group touring the West Coast of the United States and in 1906 joined the Orpheum Theater in Portland, Oregon owned by Leon Errol. Arbuckle became the main act and the group took their show on tour, (along with the muey coolio organ!! Played by Arbuckle HISself!!) On that tour he met his future wife, and the rest is history. They were hitched on August 6, 1908 .. btw.
He arrived in Hollywood in June of 1909. Lived here..& the plan was to take a break from touring. By July, he was cast in his first picture. He signed with the Selig Polyscope Company and stayed with them until 1913 when he went to work for Carl Laemmle's newly formed, Universal Pictures. He would move on from there to do work in Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops at Keystone Studios. In 1914, he met and befriended newcomer actor Charlie Chaplin ..verycool. He mentored him at Keystone however, by 1914 - Paramount offered Arbuckle a 'then' unheard of deal of $1,000 dollars a day, plus royalties and creative control, to make films with their latest sign .. (moment of silence)..ahhh Mabel Normand. Arbuckle accepted .. wouldn't you?? Arbuckle and the wife moved here (driveway view), (front view) to this plush pad in Bev Hills. The films with Mabel proved to be so successful - Paramount said screw it and offered him 3 million over 3 years to make 18 films. Arbuckles response I am sure was probably .. 'hmmm okay.' With the contract also came a new stage name for Arbuckle. One he understandingly always disliked .. 'Fatty.' If you called him that off - screen his general response would always be ... 'I GOTTA NAME, ya know!!'
By the 20's - Arbuckle bought this place (I imagine back in the day it was nicer,) for a weekend retreat .. & lived full time here. He was ready for a break, and took a trip to San Fran with 2 friends to get a bit of R&R. They rented 3 rooms and threw a party. At the party, aspiring actress Virginia Rappe showed up. This lady had problems. Already went through 3 abortions, and had a history of health problems and alcohol abuse. Not to mention, this was during the time of prohibition and the alcohol didn't have near the quality it does today. She starts drinking and gets sick. A doc is called who pronounces her as just plain drunk. Next day she dies at a hospital. Her friend there tells the doctors that Arbuckle raped her. Arbuckle is booked .. he stands trial thrice times. The press all the while is eating it up. After the third trial, Arbuckle was found not guilty in the end of Rappe's murder, but his image by public is ruined. It would be the first major scandal in Hollywood .. and because of it - major studios inacted a morals clause in the contracts. Due to public opinion, Arbuckle could no longer get work. Don't you just love how the public operates??
In 1923, Arbuckle's wife filed for divorce. She stated they were friends but just that. Arbuckle remarried in 1925, and tried to rejuvinate his career but it was too late. Studios would not hire him. He retreated into alcoholism. The 1975 James Ivory film The Wild Party has been repeatedly but incorrectly cited as a film dramatization of the Arbuckle/Rappe scandal. In fact it is loosely based on the 1920s poem by Joseph Moncure March.
In 1932 Arbuckle signed a contract with Warner Brothers to star under his own name in a series of two-reel comedies, to be filmed at the Vitaphone studios in Brooklyn. These six shorts constitute the only recordings of his voice. Silent-film comedian Al St. John (Arbuckle's nephew) and actors Lionel Stander and Shemp 'Stooge' Howard appeared with Arbuckle. The films were very successful in America, although when Warner Brothers attempted to release the first one in the United Kingdom, opening old wounds and proving themselves to be assholes who hold on to the past, the British Board of Film Censors cited the 10-year-old scandal and refused to grant an exhibition certificate.
Roscoe Arbuckle had finished filming the last of the two-reelers on June 28, 1933. The next day he was signed by Warner Brothers to make a feature-length film. He reportedly said, "This is the best day of my life." Unfortunatly, it would also be his last. He suffered a heart attack later that night and died in his sleep. He was only 46. Arbuckle was cremated, and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. You can leave your respects here!! RIP Roscoe .. you went out just as you were beginning once again to shine!!
A great website is here on Arbuckle. His official!!
To read more on his scandal ... my buddy Scott has done a AWESOME job on it!!
A good laugh...is the most worthwhile thing in life. ~ Fatty Arbuckle
For a fan of old & new Hollywood. I have always been FACSINATED by this guy! ~ Tony Nudo