|Top: Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in front of the Conservatory of Flowers, in Wished on Mabel (1915). Bottom: Author at the same spot in 2005.|
Roscoe Arbuckle and Mabel Normand made three films during their month-long visit to San Francisco and the Bay Area, which latest from at least March 25 until April 18, 1915. Besides the aforementioned Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World’s Fair at San Francisco—which included a tour of the city, the exposition and meetings with luminaries such as Mayor James Rolph—Arbuckle and Normand also journeyed across the bay to Oakland for a comedy entitled Mabel’s Wilful Way. Filmed from April 11 to April 18, this one-reeler was made at Oakland’s long-gone Idora Park amusement facility (where Arbuckle had earlier appeared during his days in vaudeville).
Between those two still-surviving films, Arbuckle, Normand, and six other Keystone performers (including Monterey-native Edgar Kennedy) journeyed to Golden Gate Park to make a largely-improvised comedy entitled Wished on Mabel. Keystone records show that the film began production on Saturday, March 27, and concluded on Monday, April 5, 1915. However, some of that period overlaps the recorded dates for the filming of Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World’s Fair at San Francisco, and it is doubtful that Wished on Mabel took many more than one or two days to shoot. Wished on Mabel captures some elements of the park that have changed, and some that remain remarkably the same.
Early in Wished on Mabel, Roscoe Arbuckle is seen standing on a bridge with the Victorian-era Conservatory of Flowers (located in the northeast corner of the park off John Kennedy Drive) in the background (See image at top of article). Built in 1878, the structure (the oldest building in Golden Gate Park, and the oldest municipal wooden conservatory remaining in the United States) looks unchanged today, as does the bridge where Arbuckle stood.
|Mabel Normand (upper left), Joe Bordeaux and Frankie Dolan (upper right) at Rustic Bridge in Wished on Mabel (1915). Author's photo from 2005 below.|
Bordeaux is then seen on Strawberry Hill island, on a stone walkway beneath a waterfall. Due to the likely replacement of stones and landscaping changes, it is difficult to pinpoint whether this is the same location or a similar one, but it is very similar.
|Left: Joe Bordeaux on Strawberry Hill island in Wished on Mabel (1915). Right: Author photo from 2005.|