Finding Fatty Voss

We mentioned him briefly in our Hall of Plus Sized Comedians, but today a little attention for Frank “Fatty” Voss (1888-1917). Chicago born Voss was hired by Henry Lehrman in 1914 to be his answer to Fatty Arbuckle at his breakaway studio from Keystone, L-KO. This was a full year before Mack Sennett hired Frank “Fatty” Alexander, creating a potential glut of Film Fatties. Around 10% of L-KOs output is all that remains, making these comedies scarce. I was unaware of Voss until the recent release of The Alice Howell Collection, which includes three comedies with him, Under New Management (1915), How Stars Are Made (1916) and Neptune’s Naughty Daughter (1917). The latter was Voss’s last picture; the 300 lb. comedian made fewer than four dozen, all at L-KO, before succumbing to a heart attack at age 30. During his three+ years on movie screens, Voss supported comedians like Howell, Billie Ritchie, and Gertrude Selby, and starred in at least one of his own, Fatty’s Feature Fillum (1917). Though there was never any danger of eclipsing Arbuckle, a top star, Voss was well-known, and rated obits in the trade publications upon his premature passing.

For more on classic comedy, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.