Minta Durfee: Wife of Arbuckle

Originally posted in 2010

Today is the birthday of Arabella Estelle “Minta” Durfee (1889-1975). The diminutive Durfee had become a chorus girl by age 17. While acting in musicals she met and married Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle” in 1908 and the two toured in shows together to points as distant as the Far East. In 1913, the pair were hired by Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studio, where both were significant players in the ensemble. Here she is with Charlie Chaplin in the melodrama parody Cruel, Cruel Love (1914), directed by George Nichols:

In 1917, Durfee moved to New York with Arbuckle when he left Keystone to star in his own pictures for Comique. The couple broke up shortly thereafter, and Durfee slid off into oblivion. (Although she was briefly in the news in 1921 as one of the few vocal supporters of Arbuckle during his rape/murder trial). In 1974 Durfee gave a series of remarkable interviews for writer Don Schneider. A little crazypants, so take it cum granis salis:

To learn more about silent and slapstick comedy don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc


And to learn about vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.



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