Mabel Normand (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 5) / by Karina Longworth


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A frequent co-star of Roscoe Arbuckle’s, Mabel Normand was the definitive female screen comedienne of her generation. But it wasn’t her association with Arbuckle that brought Normand’s career to an abrupt close and her life to an early end. Today we’ll interrogate Hollywood Babylon’s claim that Normand was a cocaine addict, explore Normand’s involvement in various scandals which did more damage than drugs, and talk about the disease that led to her early death.



This episode is a response to, and includes a brief excerpt from, Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger.

Goldwyn: a Biography by A. Scott Berg

Mabel: Hollywood’s First I Don’t Care Girl by Betty Harper Fussell

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann

Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger

My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin

“Mickey (1918)” by Roger Fristoe,

“Mabel Normand: Her Great-Nephew’s Memoir” by Stephen Normand,

Mabel Normand, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, c. 1915

Mabel Normand, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, c. 1915


Original music was composed for this episode by Evan Viola. Most of the rest of the music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, was sourced from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. The outro song this week is “Underground Movies” by The Auteurs.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

The Smoke Room - Gunnar Johnsen

My Simple Thing 3 - Peter Sandberg

Pesado Manouche 3 - John Ahlin

Mississippi Ramble 1 - Martin Gauffin

Kansas City Flashback 2 - Magnus Ringblom

One Two Three 1 - Peter Sandberg

Jazz and Blue Piano 1 - Jonaton Jarpehag

Mickey (1918) - Harry Williams (lyrics) & Neil Moret (music)

Victoria’s Vintage Pearls 2 - Peter Sandberg

Black and White - Magnus Ringblom Quartet

My Simple Thing - Peter Sandberg

Mack Sennett Studios

Mack Sennett Studios


Our special guest this week is Fred Savage.

This episode was written, narrated and produced by edited by Karina Longworth.

Editors: Sam Dingman and Jacob Smith.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.