Remembering Fatty Arbuckle:
Looking back before Venturing forward towards a Gender Balanced World
by Brad Kronen
Part II – The Astrological Arbuckle
People, it ain’t easy being funny.
When one is deemed to be funny, there is an unspoken rule for that person to ALWAYS be as such, regardless of whatever hardships or difficulties said funny person may be going through at any given time.
It’s been theorized those who succeed in the world of comedy as professionals have a higher than average likelihood of coming from a broken home growing up or experiencing a traumatic childhood overall.
Comic case in point, Carol Burnett had parents who were both chronic alcoholics and was raised by her grandmother on welfare. Richard Pryor was raised in a brothel where his mother was a prostitute and his father was a pimp. Stephen Colbert was born the youngest of 11 siblings which unto itself speaks volumes of challenge but America’s current King of Comedy had his life overturned at the age of 10 when his father and two brothers closest to his age all perished together in a plane crash.
The funny man who was early Hollywood’s biggest star as well as Tinsel Town’s highest paid commodity during the beginning of the last century known to the public as “Fatty” Arbuckle was no exception to this tragic rule.
The very Unfunny Early Life of “Fatty” Arbuckle
Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle was the 6th of 9 children born to William and Mary Arbuckle of Smith Center Kansas on March 24th, 1887. It appears right from the get-go as if things were far from easy for little Roscoe from the moment he entered this plane of existence. Unlike the rest of his siblings Roscoe weighed in at over 13 pounds when he was born, causing his mother chronic health problems which contributed to her early death that occurred 11 years later.
Alongside his birth nearly killing his mother, Roscoe’s naturally large proportions had serious repercussions with the boy’s father as well. Considering both parents had slight builds that were slim and small of stature, Roscoe’s father felt the unusually large child his wife had just given birth to wasn’t his. The baby’s father affirmed this suspicion when he named the boy after a politician whom he despised who had the unsavory reputation for being a womanizer that constantly cheated on his wife, Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York state. William Arbuckle held the belief of his son’s illegitimacy his entire life and because he felt Roscoe wasn’t his child would single the boy out and beat him regularly. The overt cruelty he directed towards the heavy set boy took a toll on Arbuckle’s marriage resulting in William leaving the family when Roscoe was six years old.
As previously mentioned, Roscoe’s mother died when he was 11 after which he was told he had to live with his father who supposedly had moved to San Jose, California. When the rotund little boy arrived at the San Jose train station, no one came to retrieve him. Roscoe Arbuckle had been abandoned and was left completely on his own. Not knowing what to do, the child wandered into a local cafe bar nearby. When the bar owner understood the little fat kid had nowhere else to go, he let Roscoe stay in a converted broom closet in the back of the bar provided the boy earned his keep by cleaning the place up every night after closing and doing various odd jobs. Blessed with a beautiful singing voice, Roscoe often sang while working, eventually grabbing the attention of a professional singer who regularly frequented the bar. It was the boy’s singing abilities that landed him a position in a traveling vaudeville company which in turn eventually pointed Arbuckle towards Hollywood and the silver screen.
Before moving forward in time to Roscoe Arbuckle’s highly publicized trial, let’s first examine the man’s life from an astrological perspective.
The Astrological Arbuckle
In astrology when a person’s birth time is not known the hour of 12 noon will be used in order for a chart to be drawn. I almost always never use that method because it’s practically a guarantee that 12 noon isn’t the actual time of birth and with an incorrect birth time comes the strong likelihood of misinterpretation since it determines the Ascendant along with the delineation of each of the 12 Houses.
Even with that said, I’ve made an exception with Roscoe Arbuckle’s chart. With his exact time of birth not known, I’ve chosen to use the standard of 12 noon since my analysis leads me to believe the man was most likely born within the vicinity of that time with my chart using 11:46 AM as the reference point of birth.
A Most Quintessential Aries
Aries is the sign which begins the Zodiac and although old astrology texts label the sign of the Ram as the “leadership” sign, I believe the energies associated with the beginner of the Zodiac find a better fit when applied to the term, “the sign of firsts”.
Being the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries energy likes being first with anything and everything. The more fresh and brand new something is, the more it appeals to the Aries personality. The first representatives of each of the 4 elements of Fire, Earth, Air and Water are considered to be the “purest” embodiments of the inherent energies of their element. Aries is the first of the Fire signs and the element of Fire expresses itself best through the processes of “Motion” and “Action”.
With his natal chart having a stellium (3 or more planets) including the Sun, Moon, along with the planetary ruler of Aries, Mars in the sign of firsts, it naturally follows that Roscoe Arbuckle was a man of many “firsts”. For starters, the man actively participated in some of the first short reels, long reels, and motion pictures to ever come out of Hollywood. As he became more and more popular, Roscoe’s salary became a series of firsts unto themselves – from being the first person to be paid $1,000 a day to being the first actor to sign a million dollar contract with a major film studio. And in what venue did the man achieve all these momentous firsts?
Comedy. Not fast witted, intellectually based comedy that is spoken or delivered via stand up (the venue was silent film where talking wasn’t even an option), the man born with a stellium placed in the action oriented element of Fire became Hollywood’s biggest star through the comedic outlet of slapstick, a brand of comedy that garners nearly all of its laughs from the physical actions and zany motions of its actors. And within slapstick comedy, Roscoe Arbuckle was the very first recipient in film to have a pie thrown in his face in the 1913 Keystone Cop movie, “A Noise from the Deep” which I would bet was a visual gag first devised by Arbuckle as well.
Born beneath the sign of “firsts”, Roscoe Arbuckle was the first person on film to partake in the slapstick sight gag of a pie being thrown in his face in the 1913 silent film, “A Noise from the Deep”. This was the first of 17 films where Arbuckle was teamed up with his female co-star Mable Normand whose nickname referred to yet another famous Aries of the Silent Film era, “the female Charlie Chaplin”.
It’s only natural for an Aries to have come up with a staple of slapstick comedy (in movie terms known as “pieing”) that would be a sight gag of guaranteed laughs used by every funny man in film there afterwards, most especially Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges, and The Marx Brothers.
Roscoe Arbuckle got his start in film playing in the comic ensemble of the “Keystone Cops”, a squad of incompetent policemen where every film produced by their film company, Keystone Films, were venues portraying all things slapstick. Despite Aries being the sign which rules over police of all kinds and Roscoe getting great exposure as one of the Keystone gang, the energies of the sign of the Ram are best utilized in solo ventures, since “Fatty” Arbuckle was so much more than just a Keystone Cop and needed to take the spotlight by himself to showcase all of his comedic talents.
Art mirroring Astrology: with the Mars ruled sign of Aries overseeing any and all things concerning the police, it’s no wonder that a person born with a stellium of Sun, Moon, and Mars placed in the sign of the Ram would get his start playing a cop on film. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle positioned on the furthest right in the 1914 Keystone Cop silent film, “In the Clutches of the Gang”.
A Mentor of Comic Greatness
If the traditional trait of leadership associated with the sign of Aries is expanded to include the concept of “mentorship”, then here we see Roscoe Arbuckle embodying some of the very best features of his sign. “Fatty” Arbuckle not only paved the way by being the first funny man of the silver screen, he also mentored two of the greatest names associated with the comic movies of the Silent Era by helping each get their start in film – Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. It must be noted both iconic funny men are associated with the sign of the Ram with Charlie Chaplin himself being born an Aries and Buster Keaton born beneath Aries’ polar opposite sign of Libra.
Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and his fellow Aries Charlie Chaplin starring in the 1914 silent film, “The Rounders”. Chaplin’s iconic character of “Little Tramp” was created, in part, with the help of his mentor Fatty Arbuckle – by taking Arbuckle’s oversized pants and wearing them in an ensemble consisting of an undersized jacket and bowler hat along with oversized shoes each being placed on the wrong foot.
A Most Atypical Aries
“He was a wonderful dancer… a wonderful ballroom dancer, in his heyday. It was like floating in the arms of a huge donut… really delightful.”
– Louise Brooks, silent film star commenting on the graceful dancing skills of Roscoe Arbuckle
Despite Roscoe Arbuckle being born with such a heavy concentration of Aries energy in his natal chart, the man was noticeably deficient in a particular trait that is unabashedly Ram-like in nature – Klutziness.
One of the biggest reasons as to why Arbuckle became so wildly popular to American audiences was his ability to perform slapstick comedy with the graceful motions of a seasoned acrobat or ballet dancer. When merged with the man’s large frame and excessive weight, Arbuckle’s movements on film come across as magically effortless.
Two astrological factors can theoretically be attributed as to why the Aries moved about in such an un-Aries way.
Uranus in Libra
When looking at Arbuckle’s chart, his stellium of Aries planets located at the top are directly opposed by the planet Uranus placed in the sign of Aries’ polar oppostion located at the very bottom of the chart. Uranus is the planet which oversees how we dare to be different or where we set ourselves apart from the norm. With what’s been already discussed Roscoe Arbuckle embodied nearly every facet of quintessential Aries energy. In order to oppose such a vibrantly strong stellium of planets in the sign of the Ram, which includes Aries planetary ruler, Mars, the planet of individuality and rebellion is placed in direct opposition in the sign associated most with grace, good manners, and smooth moves, Libra. This one planetary factor in and of itself would make Arbuckle stand out, especially among those born beneath the sign of the klutz otherwise known as other Aries.
Ascendant in Cancer
The Ascendant, along with the Sun and Moon are the main portions which comprise one’s overall personality. Otherwise known as the “Rising sign”, the Ascendant is the side of ourselves that we present to those we are not familiar with or said another way to the outside world at large. Using a person’s time of birth, the Ascendant is the starting point of a birth chart which delineates each of the 12 Houses.
As stated earlier, Roscoe Arbuckle’s time of birth is not known. However when his chart is given an Ascendant in Cancer the pieces of his life fall perfectly into place.
With Cancer Rising, the planet Saturn is positioned within 6 degrees of the Ascendant. That planetary positioning could be translated to issues of hardship involving both parents at around the time of one’s birth (Ascendant) as represented by the sign of Cancer (Mother) and the planet Saturn (Father). This would directly correlate to William Arbuckle questioning his son’s legitimacy.
Aries is traditionally considered to be the most masculine of signs since the planet of aggression, Mars is its planetary ruler. The opposite can be said of Cancer being the most feminine of signs with the ruler of internal emotions and maternal nurturing, the Moon being its planetary ruler.
Roscoe Arbuckle’s stellium in Aries is counterbalanced by his Cancerian Ascendant which lent him a sensitivity when dealing with others that would very much not be the case if he was born with a Rising sign in either Air or Fire. His Cancerian Ascendant also made the large framed comic quite presentable as a girl, as whenever he performed his female persona he called “Miss Fatty”.
“Fatty” Arbuckle wields his girlish charms as his female persona “Miss Fatty” next to a hyper-macho Buster Keaton in the 1917 silent film “Coney Island”. Note Arbuckle’s dainty positioning of his right arm and leg.
If the man who weighed close to 300 pounds could pass as a portly but passable girl, it only stands to follow that his Cancer Ascendant smoothed over any and all potential Aries klutziness in his actions and movement.
The sign Saturn is placed in at the time of one’s birth often translates to others born beneath that sign being a challenge to that person and in some cases will bear karmic significance over the course of that person’s life. Little did Roscoe Arbuckle realize his Labor Day weekend getaway would be a date with Destiny given the funny man would be crossing paths with a starlet born beneath the same sign as his natal Saturn, a Cancerian named Virginia Rappe.
In Part III of this series, we will look at Roscoe Arbuckle’s progressed chart for the time marking Labor Day weekend of 1921 since it must be remembered that Hollywood’s first mega-star born beneath the sign of “firsts” is intimately intertwined with an event that has been notoriously named “Hollywood’s First Sex Scandal”.
Brad Kronen’s book “Love in the Stars” published by Llewellyn Worldwide, Inc. is available for purchase at your local book seller or online at amazon.com at the link listed below.