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William Desmond Taylor News Story ("1986" Newsmagazine) (Aired Tues. 7/8/1986)

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Thelma Todd: William Desmond Taylor

Amounts shown in italicized text are for items listed in currency other than Canadian dollars and are approximate conversions to Canadian dollars based upon Bloomberg's conversion rates. In compliment to Fatty a number of the companies stopped work and hied to the baseball grounds.

Bessie Barriscale and her husband, Howard Hickman, and party occupied one box. Tom Mix, his manager, Eddie Rosenbaum, and Mr. Le Saint another. Fatty, Al St. John and Buster Keaton put on a side show. Dressed in the garb of the Vernons they staged a game all their own, using a plaster paris bat and ball. The result when ball and bat met may be imagined. An entire five-reel dramatic photoplay may depend entirely on one situation and still be a success. A two-reel comedy to be successful must have a dozen laugh producing situations or 'gags' and must never lag for a moment. That's why most comedy directors, after a while in the business, go around talking to themselves instead of giving out interviews.

It's a hard life. This week the assemblage was such a tremendous affair that it caused quite the biggest commotion of anything thus far given. The occasion was the automobile races at Ascot Park, in which almost every star and director of the West Coast participated. Besides, there was a parade of the motion picture stars, so those who did not race appeared on the track at any rate, and gave an exhibition fashion parade, garbed in their latest Paris creations and riding in their newest Rolls-Pack-Arrow cars.

Fatty, the papers said, was a riot. Roscoe was in a jovial mood.


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  6. He had just been making up sleep after staying up all night cutting his latest film. The worries of owning the Vernon ball club--he did then--had not reduced his noble--shall I call it, by courtesy, "chest. Anger's other name is Lou.

    After two hours and a half of that, I can't do anything else I want to. The excitement makes my stomach feel bad.

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    From his auxiliary chin--as big as anyone else's chin proper--and the reserve supply of cartilage he wore at the back of his neck, down past that noted waist line whose dimensions I didn't inquire because large figures give me a headache , and on down to his dainty feet, he was in brown--hat, hair, tie, suit, sox, shoes. Light blue eyes completed the monstrous picture. I got it because I was always hanging around the theater. I lived there then.

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    I was born in Smith Center, Kan. There were nine children. Only one other, a sister, was fat. Even now, Fatty only weighs pounds--and two dozen jockeys would weigh about that much. But rumble on, "thou ocean" of pulp. Fifty cents. So they blacked my legs and feet, too. I knew I'd get a licking when I got home. I did everything from singing illustrated songs to clown and acrobatic acts. I was considered 'fair,' like the rest of them. No, baritone. I lost my voice in Manila in playing in 'The Toymaker' with Hartman--that's why I went into movies.

    I went out in back of the theater and barked at a dog who barked at me.

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    Pretty soon I had the whole canine neighborhood barking. When I went back I couldn't sing a note! I couldn't even talk for three weeks! I wouldn't dare to. I'm 32 now. With his company I played the Mikado, and Koko, and Katish--a female of the species. Elgin Lessley, the only man who ever photographed Fatty for the screen unless two or three cameras were being used at once , also was "on stage" for the repartee about "opposition" and "real actors," etc.

    What school did you attend?

    What university? Every time I turned around, Sennett was looking at me. To this day I guess he doesn't think I'm funny. It'll take me about two and a half years to make them. All my mechanical knowledge of pictures I learned under the direction of Lehrman, who directed all but about two of my pictures. Then I formed a partnership with Joseph M. Schenck--he's the husband of Norma Talmadge and director of both Norma and Constance--had my own company, and released through the Famous Players on a percentage basis. I don't know how it happened.

    It just happened. When I look at my old pictures I can't tell how it happened! When you can sell outright 22 pictures in advance of making them, when they accept you on your face value, you're a star. That is, used my size as the subject for humor. If you'll analyze my pictures you'll see that they are humorous in themselves, except, of course, that the audience remarks about the agility on account of the weight.

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    It's all no good unless the picture is funny. If two or three pictures are bad, you're not a star any more. It's a constant worry. That's why movie people are temperamental. It's a terrible strain!

    Oh no, there's been an error

    To mention the name of a studio is to mention the young fellow. And here you have it--Arbuckle. Roscoe Arbuckle, if you remember, has been played up in type time and again as the young Behemoth who, once seated, needs a block and tackle to start him on his way again.

    But this is wrong, entirely erroneous. Roscoe is not so fat--that is, not in the way he has been hailed as being.