Al St. John
Al St. John in his persona of Fuzzy Q. Jones basically defined the role and concept of “comical sidekick” to cowboy heroes from 1930 to 1951. St. John also created a character, “Stoney,” in the of a continuing Western film series, The Three Mesquiteers, that was later played by John Wayne.
Born in Santa Ana, California, St. John entered silent films around 1912 and soon rose to co-starring and starring roles in short comic films from a variety of studios. His uncle, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, may have helped him in his early days at Mack Sennett Studios, but talent kept him working. He was slender, sandy-haired, handsome and a remarkable acrobat.
St. John frequently appeared as Arbuckle’s mischievously villainous rival for the attentions of leading ladies like Mabel Normand, and worked with Arbuckle and Charles Chaplin in The Rounders. The most critically praised film from St. John’s period with Arbuckle remains Fatty and Mabel Adrift with Normand.
When Arbuckle formed his own production company, he brought St. John with him and recruited stage star Buster Keaton into his films, creating a formidable roughhouse trio. After Arbuckle was victimized by a trumped-up scandal and prevented from appearing in movies, he pseudonymously directed his nephew Al as a comic leading man in silent and sound films such as The Iron Mule and Bridge Wives. Dozens of St. John’s early films were screened during the 56-film Arbuckle retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2006.