Born 1887 in Smith Center, Kansas, American silent film actor, comedian, director, and screenwriter Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle started at the Selig Polyscope Company he eventually moved to Keystone Studios, where he worked with Mabel Normand and Harold Lloyd.
Arbuckle 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.
Between November 1921 and April 1922, Arbuckle was the defendant in three widely publicized trials for the rape and manslaughter of actress Virginia Rappe. Rappe had fallen ill at a party hosted by Arbuckle at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco in September 1921; she died four days later. Arbuckle was accused by Rappe’s acquaintance of raping and accidentally killing Rappe. After the first two trials, which resulted in hung juries, Arbuckle was acquitted in the third trial and received a formal written statement of apology from the jury.
Despite Arbuckle’s acquittal, the scandal has mostly overshadowed his legacy as a pioneering comedian. Following the trials, his films were banned and he was publicly ostracized. Although the ban on his films was lifted within a year, Arbuckle only worked sparingly through the 1920s. He later worked as a film director under the alias William Goodrich. He was finally able to return to acting, making short two-reel comedies in 1932 for Warner Bros.
Arbuckle died in his sleep of a heart attack in 1933 at age 46, reportedly on the same day he signed a contract with Warner Brothers to make a feature film.
For his contributions to the film industry, Arbuckle has a motion pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6701 Hollywood Boulevard.
Here below is a set of old photos that captured portrait of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle from between the 1900s and 1920s.