Virginia Rappe is considered the first subject of Hollywood scandal. Her death and rape, almost sent “Fatty” Arbuckle, the popular portly star to prison, for murder.
Fatty was given 3 trials and was acquitted. His career suffered and was irreparable.
Whenever I read about this scandal, it seems the focus is solely on the victim, whose story will never truly be told, because she is deceased.
Just looking up the name “Virginia Rappe”, you will find stories of her childhood, mainly that she was born out of wedlock. People also point out that she added the “e” to her last name to sound more, sophisticated. You’ll hear stories of her dreams of stardom and her affairs with men. Of how wild and promiscuous the young girl was that she supposedly had 5 abortions by the time she was 16 and how many venereal diseases she had. It sounds like an episode of Law & Order SVU! The rumors I’ve read are just that, rumors….and I think it is callous that people would still go on about what a whore she was, so many years after she suffered such a horrible demise. Whether Arbuckle actually did the things he was accused of, or responsible because he was the host, is still up for debate. Nonetheless, in my humble opinion after reading the story numerous times, something happened at the party to cause her death 3 days later, or at least cause a break with reality for Rappe. There were so many after-the-fact accounts, it is hard to decipher what really went down, on the fateful Labor Day weekend party, in 1921.
Rappe probably would have had a promising career, had she have lived. In 1917, she began working in motion pictures in small roles, mostly uncredited. Rappe had impeccable fashion sense and in 1918, she was given the title “Best Dressed Girl in Motion Pictures”. In 1920, she starred in (then-boyfriend) Henry Lehrman’s film, “A Twilight Baby”. But, that was all for Virginia Rappe, her death occurred when she was only 30 years old, and is still considered one of the most, talked about scandals in Hollywood history.