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Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle

Actor. Born in Smith Center, Kansas, his family was poor, constantly struggling and on the move. When he was just a year old, he and his family moved to California. Roscoe grew into an overweight child and local children gave him the nickname of “Fatty” which stuck with him for all his life. In his late teens, Roscoe began to make a name for himself as a singer. His life was changed forever in 1912 when he met Mack Sennett, the owner of Keystone Film Company. Sennett soon began featuring Roscoe in 2 reel silent comedies. When Sennett developed the Keystone Cops, Arbuckle was featured as one of the mainstays. Arbuckle became wildly popular and soon headlined films with Mabel Normand, Mack Sennett’s girlfriend. He also starred in films with Buster Keaton, who became his life long best friend, and Charlie Chaplin. In 1916, Roscoe joined Paramount Studios and was offered complete artistic control of all his films. The Comique Film Corporations was created to accomodate Arbuckles’s films. By 1920, Roscoe was making seven reel features and by 1921 Paramount offered him a 3 year deal at the unheard rate of $1 million dollars per year. On Labor Day Weekend in 1921, Roscoe decided to take a break in San Francisco with a bunch of friends. What followed ultimately ruined Arbuckle’s career. He was charged with raping and murdering Virginia Rappe, an aspiring actress. She had died in the hospital after the party of a ruptured bladder. Immdediately the press was all over the story, accusing Arbuckle of crushing Rappe when he jumped on top of her. Even more lurid accounts had Roscoe violating Virginia with a champagne bottle. Two days later, voluntary and state mandated bans were imposed on Arbuckle’s movies. On September 13, a Grand Jury returned a indictment of manslaughter against Arbuckle. ¬†After 3 trials, the first two ending in hung juries, Roscoe was finally acquited in March 1922. But his film career was over. He was banned from the screen for quite some time and even when he returned he had to go under an assumed name to get work. But by the late 1920s, he was getting steady work as a director. By 1932, he had worked his way back in front of the camera, but it was too late. Roscoe died of a heart attack in 1933. He was only 46 years old. (bio by: Marta Monk) ¬†Family links: ¬†Parents: ¬†William Goodrich Arbuckle (1850 – 1920) ¬†Mary Gordon Arbuckle (1848 – 1898) ¬†Spouses: ¬†Minta Durfee (1889 – 1975) ¬†Dorris Deane (1900 – 1974) ¬†Addie Oakley McPhail (1905 – 2003) ¬†Siblings: ¬†Lola Bell Arbuckle Handley (1869 – 1905)* ¬†Nora Nell Arbuckle St John (1871 – 1960)* ¬†William Harrison Arbuckle (1879 – 1936)* ¬†Roscoe Arbuckle (1887 – 1933) ¬†Clyde Arbuckle (1903 – 1998)** *Calculated relationship**Half-sibling


  • March, 24, 1887
  • USA


  • June, 06, 1933
  • USA


  • Cremated

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