Roscoe Arbuckle Week, Part III (Life after scandal)

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Though Roscoe was unanimously declared not guilty and given an unprecedented apology, Hollywood still refused to have anything to do with him. Not only was he blacklisted, but his films were ordered to be destroyed. This had heartbreaking, disastrous effects for film history, though at least a fair amount of Roscoe’s films have survived.

Roscoe was deep in debt from all his legal fees, but he had some really good frieda who completely paid off his debts. His best friend Buster Keaton got the ball rolling on that matter. Roscoe’s friends also sent him on holiday to the Orient to try to forget what had happened, but it was impossible to forget something that traumatic and life-altering.

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In 1923, upon Roscoe’s return to the U.S., director James Cruze ignored the blacklist and cast him in a cameo role in the satirical Hollywood, one of the most famous and sought-after lost films. Buster, always a super friend, gave Roscoe directing and writing duties for Daydreams and Sherlock, Jr. Roscoe gave Buster his start in films in 1917, took him under his wing, and mentored him, and now it was time for Buster to give back.

Roscoe and his estranged wife Minta, who’d remained good friends, tried a reconciliation. Sadly, things didn’t work out, and Minta filed for divorce a second time. Roscoe remarried to Doris Deane on 18 May 1925.

Also in 1925, Hollywood allowed Roscoe to work as a director, provided he didn’t use his real name. He chose the pseudonym William Goodrich, after his father. Buster suggested Will B. Good, but Roscoe vetoed it as too obvious of a joke.

In 1927, Roscoe gave Bob Hope his big break by letting him be the opening act for his comedy show. He also gave Bob contact information of Hollywood friends, and advised him to go west.

In 1929, Roscoe’s second marriage ended in divorce, due in part to the drinking problem he’d developed.

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In 1928, he opened Roscoe Arbuckle’s Plantation Club, a nightclub which many Hollywood stars most enthusiastically supported. Free entertainment was provided by stars including Chaplin and Buster, and past co-star Mabel Normand presented him with a huge floral sculpture on opening night. Sadly, the Great Depression forced the club to close.

Roscoe embarked upon a successful stage tour, and returned to directing in 1930. One of these films was Windy Riley Goes to Hollywood, the legendary Louise Brooks’s first talkie. (Louise did appear in the 1930 talkie Prix de Beauté, but all her singing and dialogue were dubbed.)

On the tenth anniversary of the scandal, Motion Picture magazine published “Doesn’t Fatty Arbuckle Deserve a Break?” Dozens of stars signed it, and audience response was immense. Finally, in early 1932, Warner Brothers signed him for a series of six two-reelers, under his own name. The films were hugely successful in the U.S., though the British Board of Film Censors still had him blacklisted.

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Roscoe married for the third time in June 1932, to Addie Oakley Dukes McPhail, 18 years his junior. This marriage truly made him happy, and came at such a most fortuitous time in his life.

On 28 June 1933, Roscoe finished filming the last two-reeler in his contract, and the very next day was signed by Warner Brothers to make feature-length films. That night, he went out with friends to celebrate his first wedding anniversary and the new contract.

Later that night, Roscoe died in his sleep of a heart attack, aged only 46. Buster believed he’d died of a broken heart, though Addie said he died smiling. He’d lived long enough to see his reputation restored.

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7 comments on “Roscoe Arbuckle Week, Part III (Life after scandal)

  1. Very fascinating. This post series has been so informative. I really admire how in depth you go on many of the topics that you post here, sweet dear. I always learn more, no matter the subject, and definitely learned a ton of about Roscoe this week.

    Many hugs & happy tail end of September wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    • Carrie-Anne says:

      Thanks for the compliment! A cyberstalker who latched onto me in April described both of my blogs as “sperging,” a word I had to look up. I was disgusted to learn the meaning. When someone is passionate about a subject, that person will naturally go into great detail and do a lot of research. I kind of feel sorry for my cyberstalker, who apparently thinks it’s obsessive and lolcow territory to write about things with anything more than vague, short, passionless posts.

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  2. authorcrystalcollier says:

    Yikes! I can’t imagine dying that young. Crazy. What an interesting, intense life!

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  3. That is too young. At least he died in a good place.

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  4. I remember reading about that many years ago. What a strange and disturbing story! His life was never the same.

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  5. Arlee Bird says:

    It’s kind of a happy ending although dying that young is not all that happy. What a life!

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Like

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