Charlie Chaplin’s Scandalous Pal
As seen in an earlier entry, Charlie Chaplain was scandalous. However, his scandals pale in comparison to that of his orgy pal, comedic actor Fatty Arbuckle. Fatty’s scandal not only tarnished his public image, but outright wrecked his career. Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle, better known as Fatty Arbuckle (1887 – 1933), was a comedian, director, screenwriter, and early silent film era superstar. A hefty fellow who weighed about 300 pounds, Fatty incorporated his mass into his comedy. He moved gracefully, tumbled, threw pies, and was an all-around lovable and jolly fat guy. He was not just an actor, but also a Hollywood mover and shaker.
Fatty mentored Charlie Chaplain, with whom he formed a close personal friendship. He also discovered and launched the careers of future stars such as Buster Keaton and Bob Hope. Then came the scandal that wrecked his public image beyond repair. It began with a wild party at a San Francisco hotel, where Fatty and his friends rented adjacent luxury suites in September, 1921. Several women were invited, and at some point amidst the revelry, an aspiring actress, Virginia Rappe, was found seriously ill in one of the suites. The hotel’s doctor examined her, concluded she was just extremely drunk, and gave her morphine to calm her. In hindsight, he should have examined her more closely.