EXCLUSIVE: B. Alan Orange interviews Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle!
Orange chats with the long deceased comedian/director about his banned catalogue of films being released May 24th on DVD!
On May 24, 2005, Mackinac Media will be releasing the long lost silent reels of an eclipsed legend. This collection is entitled "THE FORGOTTEN FILMS OF ROSCOE "FATTY" ARBUCKLE." The DVD contains 32 classic comedies by the comedian/director that were subsequently banned in the wake of his highly publicized trial. Using my trusty OUIJA Board, I tracked Fatty down for a private, one-on-one "after-life" conversation. The old chap seemed to be in good spirits…
Orange: So, Fatty, let's start with the nickname…Isn't it kind of derogatory? Especially in this day and age?
Fatty: I never cared for the name. I did not invent the name, and only continued using it when I saw the joy and adulation it brought to young children's faces. They hear that…"Fatty!" It's funny. It makes you laugh. Hearing it in regards to myself makes me sad, especially low these many years after my passing. But I've accepted the name. Women like it. Though, there's still that stigma surrounding it. Fatty has taken on a meaning all its own. It's almost dirty, in a way. Horrible. Sad. Yet, it still makes people smile.
Orange: You'd surely never get away with using that as a name nowadays.
Fatty: I'm not so sure about that. The companies that have bought the rights to my films still use it. It still bothers me. They could advertise the DVDs using Roscoe Arbuckle, but they choose not too. I was a businessman in my day. I know the business. I may not be familiar with the workings of the studios in this current age. But I have a feeling a lot hasn't changed. I get the reasoning behind using my name. It's still scandalous. It's my Waterloo. I can't escape it, nor can I ever fully recover from it. Yet, it lives. It keeps my legacy breathing. You know, in my later career, after my name was cleared of all wrongdoing, I couldn't use my real name. The films I directed towards the end of my career are not really mine. People still associate me with the horrible accusations of that damn woman.
Orange: My grandfather used to live next door to Darla.
Fatty: Darla Hood. I'm familiar with the actress. Yes.
Orange: There seemed to be an intense hatred there. My grandfather hated you with a passion. Darla Hood didn't speak too kindly of you.
Fatty: I'm not sure why that is. I mean; I know why your grandfather hated me. He grew up in that time period. My name was slenderized by Virginia Rappe. People, to this day, still believe I raped this woman with a champagne bottle, and killed her. That simply is not the truth. People, back then, could never accept that I didn't do it. I almost think they wanted to believe that I did it. They needed to believe it. Yes, I liked to have a party. I liked to have a good time. But I would never engage in such litigious acts of debauchery. It's on record. My name was cleared in the case. I was proven, without a doubt, an innocent man. But the way the media works, its wrecks a person's livelihood. I never recovered from this personal tragedy. Your grandfather believed that I was guilty because of people like Darla Hood. People in the business that talked, and kept the grim myths alive. It was a rougher time period. Rumors were harder to disprove. Just look at the facts. Rappe had one to many illegal abortions. Medical records prove that. People, even today, almost a hundred years later, still ignore the facts. They think its better that I killed this lying, deceptive woman. They like that sordid type of fairytale.
Orange: In the place you are now, in the other world, do you ever interact with Virginia Rappe? Have you ever contacted her?
Publicist: Can we please keep this on the topic of the DVD?
Fatty: I have made no effort in contacting her. No.
Orange: All right. The DVD. This is pretty big news for fans of the silent film era, and for cinema buffs in general. What can you tell me about these films?
Fatty: Well, it's a forgotten fact. I was the biggest star of my time. Bigger than any living screen persona nowadays. People have completely forgotten that fact because of the accusations made about me. Because of the court case I had to endure. During that time, when I was still under suspicion of rape and murder, my films were banned. It was illegal to show them. These films all disappeared. They weren't allowed to be shown, anywhere. I am familiar with the film Deep Throat. And what happened with it. My films suffered a similar fate. Even well into the 70s, Cinema Houses would be fined for showing my films. I'm not too familiar with the collection. I know of it. I have seen some of the titles on the disc. These are my lost films.
Orange: This would be like Martin Scorsese's films being banned, and then suddenly becoming available after decades of lingering in a closet.
Fatty: Yes. You could correlate it with that. These are important films. Especially important to the history of comedy. These films should be seen. I'm not a self-righteous man. I'm not God. But I believe that these works need to be seen, and preserved.
Orange: What are some of your more favorite titles on the disc?
Fatty: Fatty's Plucky Pup has always been one of my favorites. And Coney Island. Some of these I directed. You'll notice some familiar faces in there. Charlie Chaplin. Buster Keaton. Rudolph Valintino. Really, my name should be synonymous with these so-called legends. My legacy has done a disservice to my charity. It really is not fair. I'm glad this collection is being made available to a wider audience.
Orange: Do you think anybody will ever make a biopic about you?
Fatty: That would be nice, wouldn't it? If they could keep their facts straight. Almost seems impossible. There's too much raw information out there. I'm not sure if I'd be justified as a talent, or washed upon the shores of litigation. It's a narrow walk. At least I won't have to suffer the nominal consequences.
Orange: What would it be called, and who would you like to see star in it?
Fatty: FATTY. Just Fatty. That's what it should be called. As far as a star worthy of my persona, is there such a thing? I was a one of a kind. Just in jest. Farley, he's a funny sonvabitch. We've talked about it. He wanted to do it, you know. But nobody would touch the story. John Candy would have been a dandy, no? We speak on occasion. Really awfully nice fellows, the two of them. I've never met Belushi, but he had that spark. That look in his eye. That flavor of danger. I like him quite a bit. All of the people I'd like to see in the role of myself have passed on. Too bad, really. I like that Heratio Sans kid, but I'm not sure he could pull it off. Not really.
Orange: Are you still acting?
Fatty: No. Not anymore. Not here. Resting. That is all.
Orange: Do you mind me calling you Fatty?
Fatty: I would prefer Roscoe, but I suspect people will not be entirely clear on whom you're speaking with.
Orange: Have you ever been able to really enjoy Labor Day weekend, since, you know…?
Fatty: I usually sit and think. Rest. I don't party on Labor Day. No. Not really. It's just another day. It holds no real connotations for me. I don't think about it too much. Ironic, Labor Day. Yes, Ironic indeed.
Orange: Well, I'm looking forward to checking out this DVD collection. I've been intrigued by your personal story for quite some time, and appreciate you taking the time to talk with me this evening.
Fatty: It has been my pleasure.