Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fatty Arbuckle

Roscoe Conkling "Fatty" Arbuckle (March 24, 1887 – June 29, 1933) was an American silent film actor, comedian, director, and screenwriter. Starting at the Selig Polyscope Company he eventually moved to Keystone Studios where he worked with Mabel Normand and Harold Lloyd. He mentored Charlie Chaplin and discovered Buster Keaton and Bob Hope.

He was one of the most popular silent stars of the 1910s, and soon became one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, signing a contract in 1921 with Paramount Pictures for an unprecedented $1 million.

In September 1921, Arbuckle attended a party at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco during the Labor Day weekend. Bit player Virginia Rappe became drunk and ill at the party; she died four days later at a sanitarium known for performing abortions. Arbuckle was accused by a well-known madam of raping and accidentally killing Rappe. Arbuckle endured three widely publicized trials for manslaughter. His films were subsequently banned and he was publicly ostracized.

Though he was acquitted in the third trial and received a written apology from the jury, the trial's scandal has mostly overshadowed his legacy as a pioneering comedian. Though the ban on his films was lifted within less than a year, Arbuckle only worked sparingly through the 1920s. He died in his sleep of a heart attack, aged 46, in 1933.

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