Films were still silent in those days, and my father still wanted nothing to do with them, but he was pittling into a strong wind. Hollywood was getting so popular, they had already put up those great big letters in the hills that everyone recognises to this day. There were proper stars too. I’ve already mentioned Charlie Chaplin, but there were lots more, Buster Keaton, Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, and of course, Fatty Arbuckle.
How many fat film stars are there these days eh? I can’t think of one. Not since Oliver Hardy hung up his bowler hat. That black man who did the Nutty Professor doesn’t count. He was wearing a rubber suit. Perhaps the people of Hollywood have something about fat people. They would rather pay a thin man to pretend to be one, than pay a genuine one the going rate. It all smacks of discrimination to me. Fancy forcing a man into changing his fist name into a mockery of his appearance. That black man who did the Nutty Professor never had to do anything like that. There would have been an outcry, and quite right too. Don’t go thinking that I’m a racialist just because I can’t remember his ruddy name. I can’t remember the name of that white man out of the films who got done for fiddling with himself in the pictures either, it means nothing. Apart from maybe that I never held with either of them and their sodding silly films. And (in case you are wondering) they come out on the other side at the same time as they go on general release in America, and they don’t charge you over the odds for a box of popcorn here either).
Any road, in 1921 Fatty Arbuckle got charged with rape and ruddy murder. They said that he had forced his attentions on this poor lass and somehow burst her insides, laying on top of her with his enormous weight. He got acquitted by a jury. Was the charge a load of codswallop made up by people who were jealous of a fat man who was rich and famous? I don’t know. He said he never did it, and she said he did. His career was ruined, despite the not guilty charge. They haven’t changed their stories here on the other side either. One thing I do know is that it is pretty ruddy hard for a fat fellow to kill someone just by laying on them. Alright, Big Daddy did send Mal “King Kong” Kirk to an early grave by jumping headlong onto his prone body, but that was a ‘Daddy Splash’ a dangerous wrestling move that should have been banned. And besides, Kirk wasn’t very well before entering the ring. If Fatty Arbuckle had done a Daddy Splash on that lass, they should have hung the wicked so and so.
Auntie Doris’s pop pick of 1921: “The Sheik of Araby” by Ray Miller and his Black and White Melody Boys. Nice song, but I wouldn’t want anyone creeping into MY tent at night whilst I was asleep. My flaps are staying shut tight, thank you very much.