"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Arbuckle, once rival to Chaplin as most popular comedian in American film, was accused of killing a starlet, Virginia Rappe, in an act of debauched rapine during a party in his hotel room. He wasn't guilty -- but his career and his life were ruined.
The New York Times ran front page stories on the Arbuckle scandal. One of the headlines: "Arbuckle Dragged Rappe Girl To Room, Woman Testifies." David Yallop, author of The Day the Laughter Stopped: the True Story of Fatty Arbuckle says, "The New York Times, which was to become a relentless critic not only of Arbuckle but of any person or group who tried to help him. . . competed daily with the tabloids, lending authority to the attack." The Hearst newspapers ran extra editions. Writing for Hearst, Lannie Haynes Martin said Virginia Rappe's "every impulse was said to have been wholesome and kindly," and compared Arbuckle's St. Francis hotel party to "the corrupt saturnalia of ancient Rome." William Randolph Hearst later said that the Arbuckle scandal sold more newspapers than the Lusitania sinking.
A dozen policemen had difficulty controlling members of the Women's Vigilante Committee, who appeared at the courthouse for Arbuckle's trial. As Stuart Oderman writes in Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle: A Biography of the Silent Film Comedian, "At a signal from their leader, who cried 'America, do your duty,' the committee . . . covered Roscoe with spit."
Arbuckle, in fact, hadn't assaulted the girl or caused her death; the case against him, relentlessly pressed by a politically ambitious prosecutor, fell apart. Yet despite his acquittal, if he is remembered at all today, it is for the sensational scandal attached to his name.
At the end of the third trial, the jury deliberated only six minutes, during which time they wrote an apology to Arbuckle which said, "Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done him. . . . There was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime. . . . We wish him success. . ."
It wasn't to be. Buster Keaton never deserted his friend Fatty Arbuckle, and in the years ahead gave him a few directing jobs, which Arbuckle did under a pseudonym. But Arbuckle never reclaimed any of the glitter or the money or his reputation. He died June 29, 1933 at age 46, of heart failure, the medical examiner concluded. Buster Keaton was more accurate: "He died of a broken heart."
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An outstanding web resource on the comedian is David Pearson's Arbucklemania.
The latter site offers some quotes from his friends, including Will Rogers, who gave the eulogy at his funeral in 1933.
Of Roscoe Arbuckle, 20th Century Fox co-founder Joseph Schenck said:
"His was the tragedy of a man born to make the world laugh and to receive only suffering as his reward. And to the end he held no malice."
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On the latest developments in the Duke case, Tom Bevan writes at the Real Clear Politics blog:
If the charges are dropped, the only remaining question will be what to do about Mike Nifong. He's already under investigation for ethics violations regarding the case and he'll almost certainly be facing a massive civil lawsuit by the families in the very near future - as will Duke University.
It may take a while longer, but hopefully justice will be done in this case.
One hopes the DA and Duke will be made to pay very dearly indeed.