Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle was born on 24 th March 1887 in Kansas, USA. The youngest of nine children, the chubby Arbuckle, who would affectionately become known as ‘Fatty Arbuckle’, started his acting career quite early on in life. At the tender age of eight he appeared on stage with the Webster-Brown Stock Company. He continued to grace the stage until 1913.
Arbuckle then headed for California where he took a job at Keystone. He played bit parts in many comedies, but didn’t receive a credited role for nearly four years. However, he did get to learn about movie production as well as work with big names such as Fred Sterling and Charlie Chaplin.
Arbuckle began to direct some comedies as well as acting in small roles. In 1915 he began to star in movies, and notched up a number of films such as ‘Fatty Again’, ‘Fatty’s Reckless Fling’, and ‘ Mabel, Fatty and the Law’. By 1917 Arbuckle had started a partnership in a production outfit, Comique, and decided to hire a young actor by the name of Buster Keaton.
Keaton quickly became a popular face, and catapulted Arbuckle’s career as well as his own. Arbuckle was offered a number of movie jobs by Paramount, such as ‘The Round Up’, ‘Brewster’s Millions’, and ‘Gasoline Gus’. But just as Arbuckle’s career was on the up, a dark cloud appeared in the form of budding star, Virginia Rappe.
Rappe gate-crashed a party thrown by Arbuckle in 1921, and when she died several days later the papers swarmed down on Roscoe. To make matters worse, fellow Paramount Director, William Taylor, was then murdered. Arbuckle remained shrouded in suspicion for several years, at which point he was acquitted. However, his career in tatters, he was forced to change his name to William Goodrich and began working as a comedy director.In 1932, his career took a turn for the better, as he was offered work to appear in short comedies. Warner Brothers were so impressed that they offered Arbuckle a contract for a feature film. However, the night after signing the contract, 46-year-old Arbuckle died in his sleep from a heart attack.
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