Who Was She?
Virginia Rappe was a 1920s silent film starlet who attended a Labor Day Weekend party celebrating Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's signing of a million-dollar contract with Paramount.
At the raging party, Rappe became ill in Arbuckle's hotel room from alcohol, which was confirmed by a doctor who was also in attendance at the party. Arbuckle found Rappe when he went to change clothes, and he and other guests were seen approaching her. Rappe, still ill, stayed at the hotel for three days before she was finally taken to a hospital. By that point, however, it was too late for treatment. She died of peritonitis from a ruptured bladder.
Bambina Maude Delmont, another party attendee, led the charge against Arbuckle, saying Rappe had confided to her that "Roscoe hurt me." Tabloids leapt at the story, with one theory holding that Arbuckle raped Rappe, and his weight (over 300 pounds) caused injuries that led to her death. Another theory was that Arbuckle assaulted Rappe with a foreign object, resulting in fatal internal injuries.
Where the Case Stands Today
Arbuckle was arrested and tried for Rappe's death. His first two trials for manslaughter ended in hung juries, but he was acquitted in his retrial. He received an apology from the jury due to the complete lack of evidence against him. Rappe may not have even been a victim of murder; instead she may have had an abortion, which could have caused the peritonitis that killed her. Though Arbuckle was acquitted, he had been found guilty in the court of public opinion and could not find work for years following this scandal. He appeared in some comedy shorts in 1933, but his short-lived comeback ended when he died in his sleep of a heart attack.
The Death Of Virginia Rappe
About The Fatty Arbuckle Scandal
The Skinny On The Fatty Arbuckle Trial