Not So Unhappy Ending
In the years after the scandal, Roscoe Arbuckle found
that he was the pariah of the motion picture industry. Used as a scapegoat
by Will Hays for the ills of Hollywood, Roscoe found himself unemployable
as an actor. He also found himself deeply in debt from lawyer's fees. Friends,
led by Buster Keaton, came forward and paid off the legal fees for Roscoe.
His friends also sent Roscoe on a trip to the orient, so he could forget
what had happened, but even there Arbuckle was constantly reminded about
On Roscoe's return to America in 1923, Director James Cruze snubbed the
ban, and gave Arbuckle a small part in Hollywood, a satire of the
movies. Roscoe played himself, forever waiting in a casting office.
In 1924, Buster Keaton decided to have Arbuckle direct his latest comedy
Sherlock Jr. But shortly into production, the stress the job caused
Arbuckle forced Keaton to have Roscoe removed.
In 1925, it was decided in Hollywood that Roscoe would be allowed to direct
comedies, as long as he didn't use his real name. He chose the alias "William
Goodrich," after his father William Goodrich Arbuckle. (Buster Keaton
also suggested "Will B. Good" as a gag, but that name was never
used.) As a director, Arbuckle would to continue to make important contributions
to film comedy, working on comedy shorts with Lupino Lane and Lloyd Hamilton.
By 1927 Roscoe was directing stars such as Eddie Cantor and Hearst's girlfriend
Marion Davies in major features at Paramount. Arbuckle would continue to
use the Goodrich alias while directing until 1932.
Also in 1925, Roscoe remarried. His second wife, Doris Deane, found him
sweet, but terribly shy, and always in pain. Arbuckle seemed to only find
solace in a bottle. Arbuckle and Deane divorced in 1928.
In 1928, Roscoe tried his luck in nightclubbing. He opened "Roscoe
Arbuckle's Plantation Club." Hollywood stars came out in full force,
with stars like Chaplin and Keaton giving free entertainment. Mabel Normand
even gave him a larger than life floral sculpture on the club's opening
night. The Depression, however, caused the club to be closed. After a successful
tour on stage, Arbuckle returned to directing films in 1930, making a series
of hilarious sound comedies for Educational. Ironically, the weakest of
these films -- Windy Riley in Hollywood -- is the one best known
today, because it features the sound debut of silent film flapper-vamp Louise
Finally, on the tenth anniversary of the scandal, Motion Picture magazine
wrote the article "Doesn't Fatty Arbuckle Deserve a Break?" signed
by dozens of film stars. The response from fans was overwhelmingly positive
- they demanded Roscoe Arbuckle be returned to the screen.
After years of hard work, Hollywood could longer deny Roscoe Arbuckle's
contributions to the film industry. In early 1932, Arbuckle was signed by
Jack Warnerto star in six two-reel comedies .
During this time, Arbuckle married for the third, and final time, to Addie
On June 28, 1933, Roscoe Arbuckle finished the last of the two reelers,
and based on their success, he was signed to a long term acting contract
by Warner Brothers.
On June 29, 1933, Roscoe Arbuckle died from heart failure, after a night
of celebrating that contract.
Buster Keaton said he died of a broken heart. Certainly, Arbuckle had been
wronged. But widow Addie McPhail said he had died in his sleep... smiling.