Eric Stonestreet, best known for his Emmy-winning role as Cam on “Modern Family,” will portray Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle in an HBO movie. Arbuckle was the wildly successful silent film star who mentored Charlie Chaplin and discovered Buster Keaton and Bob Hope — but all anyone ever talks about is the rape charges. Let’s go to Wikipedia:
In 1921, Arbuckle threw a party at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco during the Labor Day weekend. Bit player Virginia Rappe became ill at the party and died days later. Soon, Arbuckle was accused of raping and accidentally killing Rappe, enduring three widely publicized trials for manslaughter. His films were subsequently banned and he was publicly ostracized.
Though he was acquitted by a jury and received a written apology, the trial’s scandal has mostly overshadowed his legacy as a pioneering comedian. Though the ban on his films was eventually lifted, Arbuckle only worked sparingly through the 1920s. In 1932 he began a successful comeback, which he briefly enjoyed before his death in 1933.
The project is being led by writer Kirk Ellis (“John Adams”) and director Barry Levinson (You Don’t Know Jack), based on the book The Day the Laughter Died, so you can expect this to win Emmys in categories you care even LESS about than the regular Emmys. I don’t know why it’s called The Day the Laughter Died, though. I guess they didn’t have rape jokes in the 1920s.