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Roscoe Arbuckle: a miscarriage of justice?

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Arabuckle behind bars.
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Silent film star, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle accused of rape and murder.

he perils of a celebrity life...

You may not be familiar with the name,Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, or the scandal that ended his movie career; but read closely and I'm sure you'll discover a familiar tale.

Arbuckle was born in Smith Center, Kansas on March 24, 1887. He was one of nine children. Because of his beautiful singing voice, his mother encouraged him at an early age to pursue work in theater. Arbuckle joined the vaudvile circuit in 1906, joining the Pantages Theatre Group and touring all over the country. But it was his silent screen career that would earn him fame and fortune.

In 1914, Arbuckle and his onscreen partner, Mabel Normand, were offered a movie contract in the millions by Paramount studios. This was unprecedented at the time. Arbuckle was a physical comedian. Despite his robust figure, he was actually quite athletic.This athleticism contributed greatly to his stage performance and earned him an army of fans. He would go on to usher in the careers of Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, and Buster Keaton. Yes, life was good for Roscoe, nicknamed "Fatty", Arbuckle.

Inevitability, Arbuckle’s good fortune would come to a screeching halt when he was arrested in September of 1921 for the rape and murder of Virginia Rappe, a 26 year old beauty hoping to make it in Hollywood. There are at least two different accounts of what took place the night Rappe was allegedly attacked. One account has Arbuckle violently rapping her during a weekend party at a hotel in San Francisco. Another account has Arbuckle finding Rappe in his hotel bathroom drunk and leaving her to sleep it off. The actual events of that night are lost to history. What we do know is that Rappe would eventually die from a ruptured bladder days later.

The newspapers of the time accused Arbuckle of crushing Rappe with his “massive” weight. As far as the press was concerned, Arbuckle was guilty. But after two hung juries, Roscoe Arbuckle was acquitted by a third jury and issued a written apology from the jurors. But this was too little too late. Arbuckle was virtually blacklisted in Hollywood and lost his contract with Paramount. He attempted a comeback in 1933 but suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 46. A tragic end to the life and career of Roscoe Arbukle.

Side Note:

Modern Family Star Eric Stonestreet slated to bring Arbuckle's life to the screen.

Side Note: There's talk of HBO producing a biography on the life of Arbuckle.



About the Writer

D. Ware is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Roscoe Arbuckle: a miscarriage of justice?

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By TonyBerkman on October 25, 2011 at 01:20 pm

Interesting. Where did you find this? :-)

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By D. Ware on October 25, 2011 at 02:05 pm

I read an article about this years ago and it always intrigued me. I don't recall the article but I couldn't get the story out of my head.

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By Angie Alaniz on October 25, 2011 at 09:45 pm

Life can be cut short over one bad decision.

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