There is no doubt he was an alcoholic and did use drugs to control pain after a horrifically botched job on a leg injury but no indication of this level of abuse. Since this is historical fiction, the author can take artistic license and include his required use of heroin that he jokes at his readings has to be included in all of his books. This never holds up the story just muddies it a bit.
Now that the questionable drug use issue is out of the way, I can get to the meat of this review. If you want a time capsule of the turn of the century and early Hollywood, then hold on for a wow of a ride. Starting with Roscoe's birth at a hefty 16 pounds, he is ostracized for his size from then on and suffers harsh abuse by his alcoholic father. Finding himself abandoned by his father as a boy, he finagles his way onto the vaudeville stage as boy singer of illustrated songs. Along the way from singer to comedian, he does an act with the pitcher Cy Young about the benefits of health, gets caught in the great San Francisco earthquake of the only time "he and the great John Barrymore played the same roll" and has a pie fight across the Rio Grande with Pancho Villa.
His Mack Sennett years, where he helps in the fledgling careers of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, teams up with Mable Normand and introduces pie fights to the world are like being included into an exclusive club. These times are written with a captivating, naive innocence that I didn't want to end.
How much fun is it learn while filming in New York Arbuckle meets and dines with Enrico Caruso who compliments him on his singing. All these tidbits from the times added to the realism and enjoyment for this history and old movie junkie. The touch of harshness and foreboding that Stahl layered in during Fatty's rise, added to the pull of the narrative although I admit I found myself not ever wanting to get to the night of the infamous party and his inevitable fall.
Stahl does not shy away from explicit descriptions on what Arbuckle did try to do to revive Virginia Rappe.
From here the reader is then pulled through the ensuing three trials in a horrified daze, shaking their head at the injustice of it all. Instances like Arbuckle walking up the steps of the court house for the second trial, where around 50 members of the Women's Vigilante Commission encircle him and, upon a signal and in unison, they all spit on him are dizzying yet mesmerizing. William Randolph Hearst's paper, which leads the relentless libelous pursuit against him, reported "Fatty made a most impressive centerpiece in the fountain.
He valiantly tries to put his life back together, with support and help from Charlie Chaplin, Joe Schenck and his true friend Buster Keaton, but as a New York Times editorial said the day after his acquittal; "Arbuckle was a scapegoat, and the only thing to do His response, "What do you do when the world thinks your a monster, and you know it's the world that's monstrous? It is the ending that fell flat and prevented this from being five stars. It just felt rushed and a bit confused. Despite that, it is a powerful read that will have you looking up other players involved in Fatty's story or wanting to rent one or more of his movies to see this giant no pun intended of the silver screen.
In other words you won't be ready to shut this book and forget Roscoe Arbuckle anytime soon! View all 4 comments. Jan 08, Tracy Sherman rated it liked it.
The Day the Laughter Stopped
Through a syringe darkly. There's so little written on Roscoe Arbuckle that I'm grateful for anything, and I find that "fictionalized autobiographies" can sometimes reveal much more than the real thing. The first part of the book dealing with Roscoe Arbuckle's childhood rings very true, a shy, self-conscious, overweight boy who's mother is preoccupied with her own illness, she died when Roscoe was 12 years old.
And a father preoccupied with getting drunk and verbally abusing and beating his son. So like many performers of the silent era Roscoe's comedy comes out of his personal tragedy. Also like many of Hollywood's early stars he started in Vaudeville at a young age.
Raising Kane | The New Yorker
The parts of the book that covers Arbuckle's incarceration and trials for murder and rape also rings very true. An innocent man whose life is turned upside down, who's convicted in the tabloid press before he is ever given a trial and who's studio's, where he helped make his bosses millions and millions of dollars, abandonment of him.
But it's the main body of the book, Roscoe's rise to fame and his years at the top that sounds false. The author, Jerry Stahl, himself a surviving heroin addict, makes Roscoe's life reads like the war stories you hear at AA and NA, surviving old-timers tales of horror and substance abuse. But what's sounds most incongruence and false is Arbuckle's constant self loathing throughout the book. Stahl's Roscoe always refers to himself and his accomplishments in the most demeaning and abusive ways imaginable.
This self hatred seems impossible when we see Arbuckle's films or read what little we can about his life before his fall from grace. Stahl takes a classic tragic figure and makes us shake our head and say, "Poor bastard Stahl does self-hate like nobody else.
Born dirt poor to violently abusive parents, Arbuckle had that self-hate that festers at the heart of abused kids who become adults. Young Arbuckle m Stahl does self-hate like nobody else. Young Arbuckle made the most of his pound frame to cope with his awful life and developed his natural talent as a singer and physical comedian.
Hollywood movies were silent and new to the world. But, at the end of it all, when he won his trial, I applauded him because he never gave up, no matter how many people wanted him dead in Hollywood. View 1 comment. Sep 06, tim rated it really liked it. I recognize the sensationalism and problems with this book, but if that makes it a guilty pleasure, so be it.
I am fascinated by the celebrity of early Hollywood, and Fatty Arbuckle in particular. I can't quite understand his charm, but Stahl re-imagines him successfully enough that I begin to. It's such n interesting story, so filled with grim and wonderful details, and so relevant to America's relationship with celebrity as a rise and fall kind of mythology.
In Fatty's case the stakes were so I recognize the sensationalism and problems with this book, but if that makes it a guilty pleasure, so be it. In Fatty's case the stakes were so high pardon the pun that imagining it from a first person perspective is great fun. All the facts are there, and now I want to go read a biography, and rent some his films. It is an utterly amazing piece of history and begs to be a movie. Where are you Chris Farley! Entertaning fictionalized biography of Arbuckle, supposedly told in his own words wink.
It kept my interest all the way through. Dec 25, Andrea rated it really liked it. I put off reading this for a long time because it was my last unread Jerry Stahl book. May 30, Netanella rated it it was amazing Shelves: may-reading-challeges , biography , historical-fiction.
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This fictional autobiography of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, classic comic silent movie star, was both wonderful and difficult to read. Wonderful because author Stahl does such an incredible job of getting into the head of Arbuckle with wit and humor, and difficult because despite being a well-paid movie star, Arbuckle's life was tragic, even before the murder charges and trials. I am not really a fan of silent movies, but I can recognize the names and faces of the stars during this time period - Ch This fictional autobiography of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, classic comic silent movie star, was both wonderful and difficult to read.
I am not really a fan of silent movies, but I can recognize the names and faces of the stars during this time period - Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Fatty Arbuckle. Until this book, I had never heard of Arbuckle's fall into infamy over false rape charges and three trials the last one ending in an acquittal.
Even with the desensitizing nature of the continual onslaught of sensational crimes these days, I felt great sympathy for Arbuckle's situation, particularly because it was compounded by his weight. This is a great read, and inspired me to go look up some of the classic silent movies.
Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle is one of those celebrities who was once a major star, but is largely forgotten today. His rise and fall from celebrity grace is typical of the build-you-up-only-to-tear-you-down phenomenon in the world of gossip. This novel contrives a way for the silent film com Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle is one of those celebrities who was once a major star, but is largely forgotten today. This novel contrives a way for the silent film comedian to tell his "autobiography.
Also, like Farley, Arbuckle loved to party and often surrounded himself with people who took advantage of his good nature. During a weekend outing to San Francisco, a young actress and party girl died in Arbuckle's hotel room and he was accused of raping her. Smelling a great story, the press pounced on the cherub-turned-monster angle and never really looked at the facts which pointed to Arbuckle's innocence.
Although acquitted of the crime, the scandal ruined his career. He didn't appear on screen for 10 years and died of a heart attack in Jerry Stahl's book takes you through Arbuckle's life as he may have told it had he had the chance. Stahl effectively captures the voice of a man who was naive, undereducated, and deeply in need of love and positive reinforcement. His insecurities never abated even as he became one of Hollywood's biggest stars.
And despite the scandal, he proved himself an unlikely survivor who found a way to continue in movies as a director under a pseudonym. When the scandal had finally blown away and Hollywood welcomed him back as a performer, however, he was too beaten down to continue and died young. This story shows you how so little chances in the world. Almost a century before Britney and Lindsey, there were troubled stars and a gossip machine that preyed on them.
Aug 10, Scott rated it it was amazing. What makes the book as compelling and entertaining is the fact that is the structured around very real events. The book is laid out in short little bursts of story pages each as Arbuckle recounts his entire life in brief anecdotes. Many of the characters are real; you run into Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and other famous Hollywood types both onscreen and off. You also get to go on the roller coaster that was the scandal that took everything away from him at the height of his career. This may be my favorite book I read all summer.
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Apr 17, Corey Murray rated it it was amazing. This is a great book. It's a fictional autobiography of the silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, whose immense popularity came to a screeching halt when he was accused of raping and murdering an actress named Virginia Rappe. Fatty was acquitted, but his career never fully recovered. Everything about this book is colorful.
The setting of s Hollywood combined with Fatty's narrative voice make for a great read. A lot of silent film luminaries - Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mabel Normand, Mack Sennett - put in appearances; but it's Fatty's voice that makes this book so irresistable. The voice is at once slick, sarcastic and self-depracating.
We're listening to a man who's funny because that's all he knows how to be. And his clownish exterior hides a lot of dignity and pain. Jun 14, Gav Thorpe rated it it was amazing. This was recommended to me, and I'm glad it was. I was a little dubious at the start, but perhaps that was more to do with the uncomfortable subject than anything else. When Stahl gets into his stride the prose flows brilliantly, flavoured with period phrasing and sly humour. The story of Arbuckle's rise to fame, and the portrayal of what it might have been like to live that dream, is fascinating.
Of course, the train wreck that comes later is equally compelling and the cringeworthy inevitabilit This was recommended to me, and I'm glad it was. Of course, the train wreck that comes later is equally compelling and the cringeworthy inevitability of Arbuckle's fall from grace is masterfully conveyed. Read this book and then take another look at our 'modern' celebrity culture. May 30, S. Silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was framed for the murder and rape of actress Virginia Rappe.
Violently abused as a child, Arbuckle ran away and became a vaudeville star before he was targeted as the scapegoat in Rappe's murder. The voice is funny, authentic and heartbreaking.
Arbuckle continues to wound his body with food, drugs and alcohol the way we know now that adult children of abuse will do. Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin's loyalty as portrayed here reinforce my view of them a Silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was framed for the murder and rape of actress Virginia Rappe. Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin's loyalty as portrayed here reinforce my view of them as worthy of worship.
Aug 19, Samyuktha jayaprakash rated it it was amazing. Beautiful book. First fictionalised autobiography I've read. Heartbreaking , sad and funny. I didn't know who fatty was before this but now I've fallen in love with him. Scandals and media killed a career for the first time but not the last. This book has taught me to never judge without knowing all the facts.
Loved the way the author has written this book! Nov 27, Joseph Naus rated it it was amazing Shelves: straight-ficition , true-crime. I'm not sure I heard the voice of Roscoe Arbuckle in this fictionalized autobiography so much as the voice of Jerry Stahl, professional heroin addict, wisecracking his way through the role of another professional addict. And that's a shame. Feb 08, Mike Smith rated it it was amazing. This book opens with a Samuel Beckett quote,"There is nothing funnier than unhappiness".
This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the story. Finally , it seems, Fatty gets to tell his side and does so with a lot of humor. Fictional or not, it's a great read. May 11, Patrick O'Neil rated it it was amazing. Beautifully sad. An amazing bit of writing Sep 04, Sadie rated it it was amazing. Picked this book out because of my love for all things having to do with silent film, including the inevitable and tragic scandals that peppered the unfettered early cinema era, such as the Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle murder trial.
What I got was an exceptionally amazing literary experience from an author I didn't know existed. I could not put this book down. I lay like a street bum in my bed injecting this content into my brain well into the wee hours of the morning. You would have had to pry this volume out of my cold dead hands before I would have given it up. Now you may go beyond the lurid horrific events that occurred at the St.
10 Classic Hollywood Scandals That Would Make TMZ Blush
Francis Hotel in , left a young woman dead, and crashed Arbuckle's career into a dead stop. Arbuckle's is the story of a man born in extreme poverty who was destined to rise to the heights of a multi-million dollar career, only to have it snatched from him by a wave of hysteria and bigotry that swept the globe. It is the story of Hollywood and what really happened in the corridors of power; the political corruption of San Francisco: the immorality of a President. How Charlie Chaplin's career was saved.
How Buster Keaton's was begun. Both of Arbuckle. It is a life story that ranges from comic heights to tragic depths. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages.
Published first published More Details Original Title. Roscoe Arbuckle. Other Editions 6. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Day the Laughter Stopped , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Day the Laughter Stopped.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Nov 28, Graceann rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Biography Fans. Shelves: biography , d-read , d-unsorted-non-fiction. Buster Keaton said that the day the laughter stopped was the day that Virginia Rappe became ill during a party in Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's suite at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. She died four days later as a result of her illness, peritonitis caused by a ruptured bladder. Arbuckle had nothing to do with Ms.
Rappe's illness and death, but he paid with his good name, his career and his happiness nonetheless. He was tried three times, by a politically motivated and extraordinarily un Buster Keaton said that the day the laughter stopped was the day that Virginia Rappe became ill during a party in Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's suite at the St. He was tried three times, by a politically motivated and extraordinarily underhanded prosecution, and was acquitted with an unprecedented apology signed by every member of the jury.
This should have been more than enough to ensure his warm welcome back into film, but nothing of the sort happened. The tragedy of Roscoe Arbuckle is that he was made to be the scapegoat of a Hollywood running scared from public opinion - his guilt or innocence had become irrelevant. Though the book tells the story of Arbuckle's birth, start in show business and the years after his being sacrificed by so-called friends, the focus of this book is on the unfortunate death of Virginia Rappe, and the ham-handed attempt of the prosecutor to wrangle a political future out of the railroading of an innocent man.
The problem? The prosecution had no case - its "star" witness, Maude Delmont, was lying from the outset and was easily discredited, and the doctors who examined Ms. Rappe during and after the party, and who conducted the autopsy, clearly indicated that no violence was done to her. The question, of course, is why she didn't receive proper surgical medical care in the first place, but due to the passage of time that query might forever go unanswered.
When Mr. Yallop began research for this book, all three of Mr. Arbuckle's wives were still living, and were eager to share their stories with him.
Even Minta Durfee and Doris Deane, whose marriages with him ended in divorce, remembered him with great love. Indeed, all who were still around to be interviewed by Mr. Yallop had positive and kind things to say about the gentle, generous Roscoe Arbuckle. This is an indispensable and devastating text in the study of the trial and the nature of Hollywood politics in the 20's.
Simple common sense and a rudimentary review of the facts indicate that Roscoe Arbuckle was completely innocent - this book makes it abundantly clear. It is a shame that Mr. Yallop has not written further titles regarding the silent era - his voice would be more than welcome. My only quibble, and it is a tiny one, is that there is some gratuitous foreshadowing in the "Before" section of the book - chances are that anyone who awaited this book's arrival knew that its main focus was the events following the Labor Day party, and didn't need to be reminded of the sadness just around the bend during Roscoe's happy times.
View all 3 comments. Jul 21, MAP rated it liked it Shelves: true-crime , non-fiction , biographies-and-memoirs. This book is divided into 3 sections: Before, which discusses Roscoe Arbuckle's childhood and film career; During, which goes over the actual events in the infamous hotel room and the subsequent trials; and After, which discusses the rest of Arbuckle's life and his attempt to rebuild a name for himself. I found the "During" section to be in general very well done and interesting.
However, there were some weaknesses throughout the book that kept me from adding more stars. The "Before" section wa This book is divided into 3 sections: Before, which discusses Roscoe Arbuckle's childhood and film career; During, which goes over the actual events in the infamous hotel room and the subsequent trials; and After, which discusses the rest of Arbuckle's life and his attempt to rebuild a name for himself.
The "Before" section was way too long and detailed. I suppose if you were an ardent Arbuckle fan who'd seen EVERY movie, the anecdotes the author had collected would interest you. If you haven't seen many of his movies, these anecdotes are tiresome at best, confusing and unfollowable at worst. A general overview of his career with a few characteristic anecdotes would have been sufficient.
The author seems to contradict himself a lot. For example: a. He makes a very clear argument that the Hearst newspapers were out to get Arbuckle and refused to print anything that could make him look good. He then acts outraged that the American people wanted someone who they perceived to be a rapist and murderer to rot in prison. I'm sorry, but in an era where Chris Brown can beat the shit out of his girlfriend and then two years later be like "Yay, Grammy!
The author had some squicky ideas about how we should perceive rape. It's hard to know if it was written this way because it was written ABOUT the s, or if it's because it was actually written in the s, or if the author is just kind of a pig. But he emphasizes over and over again what a frigging slut Virginia Rappe was and what a shame it was that nobody got to enter that into evidence. I understand that part of this had to do with the fact that knowledge of her illegal abortions could help explain some potential reasons that she had bladder issues and ultimately an infected and burst bladder that killed her , but he seems to want that information in there simply because it would defame her character, and isn't that good for Arbuckle?
Rappe's sexual history notwithstanding. That's not ok. That's never ok. That has no bearing on being raped. Overall, this was a very hard book for me to read, because I'm a sexual assault researcher, and so reading Yallop's gleeful takedown of Virginia Rappe's "character" and by character I mean sexual innocence or lack thereof was very disturbing to me.
And Ms. Rappe herself never accused Arbuckle. In fact, until her death, she denied any intimate contact with him. It was her acquaintance, Ms. Delmont, who made the accusation, apparently to extort money. So not only did Roscoe Arbuckle do nothing wrong, neither did Virginia Rappe. Feb 11, Tracy Sherman rated it really liked it.
I was amazed to see how emotional and derisive the subject of Roscoe Arbuckle's life is. People are still divided on the subject of Roscoe Arbuckle and his involvement with the death of Virginia Rappe. I've been doing a lot of research on Arbuckle's life. I'm writing a play about him any and he's also a character in a book I'm writing. The Day the Laughter Stopped isn't the best of the books I've read a I was amazed to see how emotional and derisive the subject of Roscoe Arbuckle's life is.
The Day the Laughter Stopped isn't the best of the books I've read about Arbuckle's life, and it isn't the worst.