Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Curtain Falls: JUNE 29, 1933

Sometimes the shape of a story is decided not by how it ends, but when.

Did Arbuckle die of happiness? A follow-up story in the June 30 paper reports that on the 28th Warner Bros. had signed the comedian, who had just wrapped a series of two-reelers, to a feature-film contract. He felt over-excited and went to bed early. He had turned his story around, he thought. But we still think of Arbuckle as someone destroyed by unfair persecution, because we'll never know how far he might have rebounded. He might have become a stalwart of the Warners stock company -- or the backlash of 1934 may have resulted in a new banishment. At the moment of his death his star was rising, while that of his friend and protégé Buster Keaton was plummeting. Keaton lived long enough to regain the recognition he deserved, and his life is seen as a triumph over adversity. Arbuckle remains one of Hollywood's tragic figures, but sometimes tragedy is just a matter of timing.

Meanwhile, the show must go on!

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