Mabel Normand is generally considered the finest comedienne of the silent era, often referred to as the female Chaplin.
A former model, she entered movies in 1911, working with rotund John Bunny, America’s first comedy film star. Soon Normand caught the attention of director DW Griffith and moved to Biograph Studios. Here she met another actor in Griffith’s company, Mack Sennett. The sparks that flew between them on-screen and off became part of film history. When Sennett left to form the Keystone Film Company in 1912, Normand followed.
Sennett’s wild screen comedy was an immediate hit with audiences, and Normand became famous almost overnight as “Keystone Mabel”. A gifted comedienne, she quickly adapted to the roughhouse slapstick of the new studio. She directed many of her comedies, and was paid one of the highest salaries in Keystone history.
Normand’s most frequent co-star was Roscoe “Fatty”Arbuckle. Practically a team, they played husband and wife in dozens of highly successful short comedies. Ironically, in a few short years, scandals would ruin both their careers.