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Silent Sunday Nights - January 2014
Remind Me

Mabel and Fatty's Wash Day

Call them the slapstick Cinderellas: Mabel Normand, slaving away at household chores while her useless hubby Harry McCoy naps; and Fatty Arbuckle, scrubbing while his harridan wife Alice Davenport nags. But when Mabel and Fatty accidentally swap some of their laundry, these two neighbors find solace in each other's friendship. Nothing spells the start of a lasting friendship quite like handling each other's dirty underwear. Too bad their respective spouses don't agree--but this is a Keystone short, where all domestic disagreements can be resolved by throwing things and kicking.

Harry McCoy was one of the most versatile performers in Sennett's Keystone company. Over the course of some 75 shorts, he played every kind of role--from villains to heroes, walk-ons to leading parts. Perhaps because of this unusual range, at a studio where the stars specialized in easily recognizable character types, McCoy did not become as well-known as his frequent appearances would suggest. McCoy also branched into directing, and worked as a writer for the likes of Harry Langdon. In 1937, he joined Walt Disney's company as a gag writer, but died young before making his mark in this new venture.

By David Kalat