The
Keystone
Years


In 1913, Roscoe decided to try his luck at Keystone. Films had suddenly come into vogue, and since Roscoe had experience from working at Selig, he decided to give it another try.

When Roscoe Arbuckle entered the Keystone lot, he did so at just the right time. Mack Sennett's lead comic, Fred Mace, had just left the studio to seek greener pastures. Sennett turned to Roscoe on the spot. He also hired Roscoe's wife Minta, and (against Roscoe's will) Roscoe's nephew, Alfred St. John.

Starting with "The Gangsters" (April, 1913), Roscoe quickly became one of the most popular figures at Keystone.

In "A Noise from the Deep," Arbuckle became the first film comedian to be hit with a pie. He could throw them too. Roscoe had the ability to throw two pies, in different directions, at the same time!

In early 1914, Charles Spencer Chaplin was hired, by Sennett, to replace comedian Ford Sterling, who had left the studio. Chaplin borrowed Roscoe's pants, and became a Keystone favorite overnight.

Shortly after Chaplin's arrival, Roscoe became the first of the silent comedians to direct his own films, starting with "Barnyard Flirtations" (March, 1914).

When Chaplin left Keystone in late 1914, Roscoe was teamed with Mabel Normand. Together, they created the "Fatty & Mabel" series. Lasting through early 1916, the series brought millions for Sennett and his New York partners. But when Mabel (who was Sennett's lover) caught Mack with another woman, she left the studio.

Having increasing creative control over his pictures, Roscoe moved his stock company (Minta, Al, and Roscoe's dog, Luke - who was so talented that he recieved a salary of $150 a week) to New Jersey.

By this time, the Keystone organization was beginning to break up. By Autumn 1916, it was clear Sennett was selling the company, and Roscoe was ready to move into independent production.

Also breaking up was Roscoe's marriage to Minta. They separated in early 1917.


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