Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle
I think it is pretty safe to say that this case has been one of the more frustrating cases I have researched. I hate to say this but I really dislike the days of "yellow journalism." When I hear a story, I want to hear all the story, and I want to hear the truth. While I will tell you that you should never go to a super hero movie with my husband as he will totally let you know what was wrong and did not follow the comic book, he will be the first to tell you that true story movies are my Achilles Heel. This goes for books and articles and anything else. I absolutely despise movies such as JFK and Lincoln because facts were changed. Sometimes it is for more sensationalism, and sometimes there is just no logical reason. But, in the same respect, I have learned when it comes to watching one of those movies I need to take it with a grain of salt and not believe everything I see. The same can be said about true story books or even articles from the newspaper which is why I try to do as much research as I can before I sit down here and tell a story. Yellow Journalism is something else though. It is the movies... on paper. Let's make things up because they sound better. I think of yellow journalism as the modern day National Enquirer. Although due to the fact they were sued often the Enquirer has learned to be a bit more creative and I think society has become a little bit smarter than we once were in believing everything they say. What happens with these old cases is that the "facts" are often skewed from the beginning and then they get passed down. It seemed for every "fact" I found on this case I found another source claiming something completely opposite.
I liken myself as somewhat of a movie buff. Admittedly though I have never been a huge fan of slap stick comedy nor of the silent era to which this case falls into both categories. Give me Lana Turner or Clark Gable and I am all about learning something new and watching something old of theirs. And while I am not and never have been a huge fan of Chris Farley, or even Jim Carey, I am respectful enough to give someone their due when it comes to paving the way for others, which is what Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle did. That being said I would gander to guess if you asked anyone under 40 who Fatty Arbuckle was, if they knew at all, you would hear something that sounds like one of the following.
He was a big actor in the 1920's that raped and murdered a girl at a hotel orgy party he had and then was acquitted. Let's not forget that the rape was committed using either a coke or wine bottle, they were never sure. Oh yeah and the girl? Well she was no daisy herself, she had had several abortions over the years and was pretty loose in her morals..... or...
Yeah some drunk girl had just had an abortion and set him up for rape right before she then died, thankfully he was acquitted but it ruined his career.
Of the two statements above the only things that we know for a fact are true is that Fatty Arbuckle was in deed a big star of the 1920's, there was a party at a hotel, he was eventually acquitted of all charges and that it did in deed ruin his career.
So what is the truth? What did really happen? There have been multiple books, articles and websites that have been devoted to trying to figure this out. The problem seems as if none of them are at least completely true but the bigger problem is that most of them articulate themselves into making their version sound as if it were fact. I have done many cases in which I have to admit that I am unsure which version of something I came across is true. I hate that I can often sound confusing but in the same respect I want my readers to know that a particular "fact" is in question. What makes this case even more frustrating is that it involves Hollywood. But not the Hollywood of today.
Most people claim that the Fatty Arbuckle case was the first scandal in Hollywood. That may not be completely true. There had been some other things that had gone on that had maybe not made the stars seem as pure and angelic as the movie moguls would have liked but this was the first in which a major star was involved. This case is likely where they fine tuned skills that they would spend the next few decades polishing. It was an era of contracts. Actors and actresses were paid by a particular studio, they were shaped by this studio and they did the movies the studio told them they were to make and if they were good enough they made several movies (6-8 or more) a year. Behind the scenes the big wigs were changing names so they sounded better than a birth name... men had to have MANLY names and women had to have those beautiful big eyes but remain as pure as the driven snow, at least to the general public. Things were even better when they could match up a few big stars and get them dating, and then marry them off... the money would just roll in. But scandals? No way. Women did not drink or smoke, they did not flirt, let alone have sex and not be married, at least not when cameras were on. Sexy men who were married already were often forced to hide the spouse so they wouldn't lose sex appeal. And one of the funniest in my opinion was homosexuality was hidden completely and often over compensated (i.e think Rock Hudson). Now, this is how we lay people were supposed to see the Hollywood stars and while they may have complied in public to satisfy their bosses, their private lives were not as easily controlled and when something slipped out someone had to run in and do damage control. I would gander to guess the moguls got smart and started adding morality clauses in their contracts if they did not have them from the start. We obviously see scandals out of Hollywood today and while family, friends, and even agents may spin stories so that the facts are not as harsh as they actually are, the studio's are not as overly involved as they were back then. I am not saying they won't still cover for a star from time to time, especially for the sake of money, but nothing like they did back in the beginning.
So, let's see if we can determine what happened, was there a crime and who were the real people behind the masks? Maybe the best way is to first introduce the characters of our story....
- First there's obviously Fatty Arbuckle. He had just become the highest paid actor in Hollywood when he signed a contract with Paramount Pictures for $3 million over 3 years for 18 movies. He had been best known for being in the Keystone Kops skits as many of the "pie in the face" jokes. Two friends of his (one a cameraman, the other a little known filmmaker) had decided to take him to San Francisco to celebrate. Just prior to going Fatty had some work done on his car and had inadvertently sat on the seat where some acid soak rags were. In the process he had received second degree burns right on his behind and was still in a lot of pain. Fatty was said to be known as very much a gentleman and very shy around women. He was married but he and his wife, Minta, who he had married in 1908 had recently separated it seems. "Fatty" was a large man who in fact hated his nickname. Despite his size he was known as being rather limber and quite the acrobatic. Between drinking and his weight issues he started having health problems and around 1916 had lost several pounds and almost lost his leg. It was said that because of this he became addicted to morphine, although I cannot confirm this. It would not be unusual for the time though as doctors seemed to hand out morphine like candy.
- Virginia Rappe.... She became famous not because she was a clothes designer, or a model or even for the few acting credits she had. She became famous because she died. There is not a lot of information about Virginia and even still a lot of what is out there may in fact not be true. What we do know is that in 1921 when she went to the party she was engaged to filmmaker Henry Lehrman. Most reports will tell you that she suffered from "Chronic Cystitis." Yeah, I had to search what that was too and it comes up as basically a UTI or chronic bladder infection. Alcohol was said to exasperate the problem. Many reports to this day claim that Virginia was a promiscuous girl and had had several abortions prior to her death and had received substandard care. Some reports claim that she had an abortion just days or hour prior to going to the party and that was what caused her death but that cannot be proven. Much of her reputation has been tarnished and I am not sure that was warranted what so ever. Was she a "loose woman"? I do not know that she was or that she was any "looser" than the other women around Hollywood if she was. There are also reports that she was brought in specifically as a "party girl" but again these claims have little credit to them. So did she have abortions? I do not think that can or ever will be proven. But, I think these claims have gotten wings based on the fact that abortions in Hollywood were not that uncommon and the medical field was not what it is today. Many times people could claim to be doctors and have little training or a license. It is easy to blame the dead victim here who cannot stand up for herself. Even her age is at dispute. Some reports say she was 26 at the time of her death, some say 28 and some even say 30. I can tell you that according to her tombstone she was 26, but that does not mean that she was actually 26. This was an era, especially when it came to women in Hollywood where women were rarely honest about their age and no one but "Mama's bible" at home probably knew the truth. Women, and not just the Hollywood ones, were pretty well known for shaving at least a few years off their age. As I will go into later, what her actual cause of death (let alone the manner) is at odds with history. Most things you will see say she died of a ruptured bladder (or in medical terms, Peritonitis) and this does seem to be the one most believed to be true. However, there is at least one report (at the findagrave.com site) that claims that a "secondary" cause is "probable" rupture of Fallopian tube. I use Findagrave very often for my own genealogy work but it is another site where lay people add information often without any documentation and since it is the only one that claims this, the cause of death listed here is at adds.
- Maude "Bambina" Delmont was another main character in this saga. She was pretty well known, at least to the police prior to the party in 1921. Why was she well known? Well, she had a long criminal record that included things such as blackmail, forgery, racketeering, bigamy and extortion. Yeah, it is safe to say that Maude was out for the almighty dollar the easiest way she could get it. She went with Virginia to the party. Now there are some reports that claim that Fatty, or his friends had hired Maude to bring "party girls" to the party. I think we all know what that means. But, as with so many other things in this case, this just does not seem right and does not have a lot of credibility behind it. Maude tended to change her story many times so it cannot even be determined just how long she had known Virginia. In some reports, by her own accounts, she had known her for years and they were very good friends and in others they had only met a few days before. Maude is the reason that Fatty Arbuckle was tried for manslaughter in the first place. Her reputation, as well as her changing stories, never had her in court testifying but it is she who told police, and later the district attorney, Matthew Brady, that Fatty had raped and attacked Virginia. Many are confused as to how she was ever believed and how her accusations alone were able to convince the prosecutor to file charges. Not only was it well known that she would get prominent men in compromising positions and then blackmail them, a letter was discovered that she had written specifically saying that she planned to get a lot of money from Fatty Arbuckle when it came to this case. Maybe she underestimated what her charges would do, who knows. What we do know is that Maude never seemed to miss a beat and one should never count her out. Despite the fact she obviously made no money directly from Fatty or from her claims, she did supposedly gone on tour as the "Woman who signed the murder charge against Arbuckle" and even gave lectures of the evils and immorality of Hollywood. Yeah, I know... you can snicker now at the hypocrisy of it.
There are of course other people involved in this case but these three were the main ones that I feel like you needed to know a little about before moving on with the story. Ok, so on that weekend Fatty and his two friends went to the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco and rented three rooms....1219,1220, and 1221. Supposedly the middle room was the party room. Most reports say that Fatty had no part in inviting anyone and left that up to his friends, maybe because he was still sore from the acid rag incident a few days earlier. At any rate on September 5, 1921 Virginia Rappe showed up with Maude Delmont. Despite the fact that this was in the middle of Prohibition (1919-1933) there was plenty of alcohol being served. If you know anything about this era you know that although alcohol was illegal it was still available but not always in it's best form. Obviously since it was illegal there were no real restrictions on what was put in it since any form at all could have caused a fine, but those who wanted it, could find it and they simply did not care what it contained. Despite supposedly already suffering from the stomach ailments and more than likely already knowing that alcohol exasperated her situation Virginia apparently had at least a few, if not more drinks. There are two stories as to what transpired next. One comes from Fatty, or at least what he was told to say, and the other comes from Maude Delmont who seemingly could not keep her stories straight.
According to Maude, Virginia had gone into room 1219 and Arbuckle followed her. She claims soon after she heard screaming coming from the room and that in her desperation she ran to the room and pounded on the door to be let in to check on her friend. She says Arbuckle finally came to the door and she saw Virginia lying on the bed (some accounts say in a different array of clothing depending on when she is telling the story) and wincing in pain. She goes on to say that Virginia said that Arbuckle had attacked her. At some point in one of her claims she also claimed that either prior to Virginia and Arbuckle going into the room or afterwards (although how could she hear through the door?) Arbuckle had said something along the lines of "I have waited for years for you." This apparently was to indicate what she believed was then going to happen in the other room. Now, that is her story.
Arbuckle's story is different and seemingly one he stuck with until he died, but more importantly at least until charges were resolved. We need to keep in mind a few things though. First off, he was an actor, and apparently a good one. This is not to say that I believe his story was an act, but it is to put it into perspective. Also he never told the story of what happened until he was on the witness stand in his first (of three) trials. This had given him plenty of time to decide on the story he was going to tell. There was not really anyone to substantiate either story, not because no one was a witness but because everyone working in Hollywood had been warned by their studio that they would be reprimanded if they supported Arbuckle in any way what so ever. His old friend Buster Keaton did not seem to care and stood up for Arbuckle and was given a small fine, but then again Keaton was an big name in his own right already and with the biggest star out there out of the game they likely were not going to hurt Keaton too much. Charlie Chaplin apparently simply stated he could not believe the charges, but he was in London so he was out of reach from the studio moguls. So at any rate Arbuckle's story is this.... He claims that he had gone into room 1219 to change his clothes as he was leaving the party (either to go elsewhere or simply take someone home) and that when he got in the room he found Virginia in the bathroom. Some reports say he found her in there unconscious, while others say he found her vomiting. At any rate he claims she asked to lay down on the bed for a while because she was not feeling good. He either carried her or she went on her on accord. Then Fatty left the room for a few minutes. When he returned (reports vary if he was alone or not) he found Virginia off the bed "thrashing" violently pulling at her clothes.
The pulling at the clothes was claimed to have been a common occurrence of Virginia's when she drank alcohol but I cannot prove this was true. For all I know this was an idea invented by Arbuckle's lawyer with claims that her inflamed bladder, added with alcohol often caused her a burning pain in which she would behave in this manner.
At any rate, most agree that Virginia was then moved to room 1227 and the hotel doctor was called to check on her. The doctor suspected that she was simply intoxicated and needed rest. He administered morphine... the cure all medicine of the day... to calm her nerves. For the next three days she remained in that hotel room. There have always been questions as to why she was not taken to a hospital sooner but I could find no clear answers. There were some claims that Delmont stayed with her the entire time, some saying simply to grab some "fame" by showing her concern and there are others who claim it was just part of her plan. There are some reports that a catheter was inserted either at the hotel or later at the hospital because she had not urinated in some time.Finally on the third day Virginia was transferred to a hospital. By now Arbuckle and his friends had left and likely returned back to Los Angeles or where ever his work was taking him next, but reports are that he was out of San Francisco. At any rate she goes to the hospital accompanied by Delmont. Once there she apparently first informed the doctors that according to her Virginia said that Arbuckle had hurt her, at least indicating rape. It appears that an examination was done then, prior to her death, as well as again when she died the following day and there did not appear to be any signs of rape or sexual assault of any kind. At some point then Delmont, maybe because the doctors did not seem to believe her went to the police and reported the supposed attack. Then on September 9th Virginia died and an autopsy was performed. The cause of death was said to be a ruptured bladder.
The district attorney at the time was Matthew Brady. Some reports claim that the reason he took Delmont's word that a rape had occurred was because he had political aspirations and wanted to run for Governor in the 1922 election. The theory is that he believed this huge high profile case (often compared to the OJ Simpson trial as far as how big it seemed in the media) would help him in the political field. To be far apparently Brady never ran for office and remain in the DA's office for many years so whether this was true in the beginning as to why he took the case is unclear. At any rate, despite apparently only Delmont being the only one claiming Arbuckle had attacked Virginia and there being no evidence of rape found either in the autopsy or prior to her death Brady decided that Arbuckle had in fact harmed her. Now, I stated earlier that Delmont never testified. This is not completely true. She did apparently testify at the grand jury hearing but she was so bad and her credibility was shot that Brady never used her again. In fact apparently even the judge stated that the case was rather weak. The problem is that by this point the media had gotten a hold of the story and told what ever version they wanted to tell, regardless of the facts, and there was a public outcry to seek justice, many asking for the death penalty. Arbuckle was later quoted as saying that he went from the most loved man in America to the man people loved to hate. William Randolph Hearst (owner of one of the two major Yellow Journalism newspaper companies, the other being Joseph Pulitzer) was also quoted as saying that he sold more newspapers than when the Louisiana sank.
While it seems that Brady was initially going for a charge of 1st degree murder, asking for the death penalty in the beginning by the time Arbuckle was arrested on September 21st it was changed to manslaughter. I was unable to clear up if it was the prosecutor who made this choice or if it was the judge who made this decision or at least forced the hand of Brady to make it. Also in play was the fact that apparently fairly quickly the defense had found the letter of admission from Delmont where she claimed to be trying to get money from Arbuckle. There are many who say that it seemed as if the judge would have dropped all charges if it were not for the public outcry, despite the false things they believed. Take note that Arbuckle was NEVER charged with rape or any kind of sexual assault. The rumors of him using a coke bottle or a wine bottle came out much later and the fact that two doctors had examined Virginia and found no signs attested to this. There was one rumor that I could not determine if true or not that stated that Arbuckle had admitted to taking ice and rubbing it on Virginia's stomach to ease the pain that turned into him taking the ice and touching her vagina and causing her bladder to rupture. Yes, it was really a theory. Of course the ice would not have caused the bladder to rupture regardless where it was placed but it can still be found as a theory if you look hard enough.
Arbuckle spent three weeks in jail before he got bail and was released. His first trial began on November 14, 1921. At first it did not look good for the defense. The prosecution had managed to find several witness, willing or unwilling to testify for them. Their theory was that Arbuckle had in fact had sex with Virginia (they were careful not to call "rape") but that his huge size had put so much pressure on her that it ruptured her bladder. One witness for the prosecution was a woman who had supposedly attended the party who testified that after the supposed incident happened she had seen Arbuckle and he was smiling. I am unsure what this was supposed to prove other than he was at the party, which every already knew, but either way upon cross examination she stated that the prosecutor had threatened her to testify and that if was not actually true. Then there was a nurse from the hospital who claimed that it was "likely" rape and that Virginia had bruises on her. Again, not sure what this was supposed to prove. Doctors had already stated that there was no signs of sexual assault or rape, which would have included bruising and she was not being definitive. She too admitted on cross that there were many other reasons that the bruising could have happened and that she had no proof that Arbuckle had done anything to Virginia. The hotel doctor who initially said she was simply intoxicated and treated her until she went to the hospital three days later testified that an "external force damaged the bladder." He was probably right except he had no idea what that external force was and admitted later that Virginia never said to him that she had been assaulted, let alone mention Arbuckles name. The most interesting witness was a criminologist who got on the stand and said that he found Arbuckles fingerprint smeared in Virginia's blood on the bathroom door of 1219. Now, in one of Delmont's stories (which remember was not told here) she mentioned blood but other than that there had never been talk of bleeding. Defense attorneys were able to discredit the criminologist when the hotel maid testified that she had cleaned the room prior to any investigation being done and there was no blood in the room at all. Remember, Virginia spent three days in another room at the hotel after the initial situation and Arbuckle and his friends had left the hotel before there were any allegations made. It would make no sense what so ever that the room would have remained dirty (and if one would have you would think all three they had procured would have) for several days. Not to mention if there was so much blood in the room as the criminologist tried to claim someone would have known long before the trial.
Now, for the defense's part they tried claiming that Virginia had this bladder condition and that there had not been an external cause for the rupture but the simple fact of infection. Whether that could have been believed at the time when medicine was not what it is today or not I am uncertain but my research has indicated the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. But, to account what kind and how much of an external damage it would have to sustain is likely a case by case basis depending on the condition of the person and likely the bladder. In this trial Arbuckle took the stand and told his version of the story for the first time. In all there were 60 witnesses called to the trial with 18 of them being doctors testifying for one side or the other.
After five days of deliberations the jury came back saying they were deadlocked 10-2 for acquittal. There was much made about one particular jury member. Her name was Helen Hubbard. Apparently her husband worked for the local DA office and later said he was surprised that she was not excused and was picked for the jury. There are rumors that while the defense was putting on their side she sat with fingers in her ears (this I really doubt happened) and that once deliberations started she refused to look at any transcripts or exhibits. She was supposedly quoted as saying she would have never voted not guilty no matter what. Once again, remember that the information coming in from this is sketchy at best. Did she say these things? I do not know. Some claimed that she was singled out because of the high profile of the case and because women had only been allowed to participate in juries for four years up to this point. But, no matter the reason, there was no conclusion.
Arbuckles second trial started on January 11, 1922. This time the defense decided there was no case against him and while they added very little to their case, they took away a lot. Rumor was that during the first trial there had been no mention of Virginia being "loose" shall we say because Fatty had said it was immoral to talk ill about the dead. In this trial the defense did bring a little bit in about her promiscuity as well as her drinking, which whether true or fictionalized was believed to be a major issue for her. In this trial a man by the name of Jesse Norgard testified (he may have testified at the previous trial also). Jesse was a former security guard at the studio that Arbuckle, and apparently Virginia both worked at. He testified that Arbuckle had come to him and asked for Virginia's dressing room key at some point before everything had happened saying that he wanted to play a joke on her. He said he did not comply. Again, I am uncertain what the goal of the prosecutor was here other than to possibly say that Arbuckle knew Virginia prior to the party (although I am uncertain if he claimed to know her or not before then). Once again though the testimony mattered little because the defense was able to point out that Norgard was an ex-convict who was currently facing charges of sexual assault against an eight year old and was hoping by testifying he would get a reduced sentence. Arbuckle did not testify this time and his attorney, Gavin McNab, did not even present a closing argument he was so certain of the case. Well, that did not work well for him because although the jury was once again deadlocked 10-2, just like the first, this time it was more towards the guilty side. Jurors had stated that by Arbuckle not testifying they felt that made him look guilty. And so a mistrial was once again judged.
In his third trial defending Arbuckle that started March 13, 1922 McNab took a no holds bar approach. He let it all out. He told of everything he could find (and likely some fictional stuff) against Virginia's character; he pointed out all the witnesses he had discredited over time and of course this time Arbuckle told his story again. Once again Delmont was not there to testify but McNab famously called her "the complaining witness who never witnessed." She of course was already on tour lecturing on the evils of Hollywood and letting everyone know she was responsible for the charges Arbuckle faced. This time the jury was gone for an extremely short amount of time. Some of my research said 5 minutes, some said 6 or 7. At any rate apparently they walked into the chambers and everyone agreed that Arbuckle was innocent of the charges and they immediately began composing a written and official apology to him. They re-entered the court room and read the apology out loud. Later they each shoot hands with him and had their picture taken. It was later said that Arbuckle saved the apology note for the rest of his life, which did not last as long as it should have.
Now, one thing that Arbuckle was found guilty of was so minor that it was all but a given and barely mentioned. In fact, for all I know he pleaded guilty to it on it own. That was a charge of violating The Volstead Act by having alcohol present at the party. He was fined $500 for that. So here it is the end of three trials and finally he is innocent, free and allowed to carry on with his life, right? Yeah, not so fast! During all of this the powers that be in Hollywood (the big moguls) had hired a man by the name of Will Hays. Hays' job was to censor people and films that cast a bad shadow on the image they wanted to give to the general public. Hays decided despite the acquittal that Arbuckle was bad publicity and he became the first person to be "blacklisted" by Hollywood in April of 1922. After being pressured, Hays lifted that ban in December of 1922 but that did not matter. Many owners of theaters had already destroyed many copies of Arbuckle's movies when the charges were first levied, vowing never to show him again, and while they were now "allowed" to show them and Arbuckle was allowed to work again, that did not mean they had to comply and show his films.
Once his legal drama had ended Arbuckle was left with $700,000 in lawyer fees... and that is in 1922. That amount would be around 9 million in today's money. He was forced to sell his home and cars to pay the debt. He had been in the entertainment industry since he was a teenager, he knew little more than that. He was able to garner some money doing little venues that would let him but his friend Buster Keaton came to the rescue. He made an agreement to give Arbuckle 35% of the profits from his own production company to help him get by. His drama did not end there though. By November of 1923 his estranged wife, who had supported him throughout his trials filed for divorce. He would marry two more times before his death in 1933.
As far as his career, well it staggered for many years with people still reluctant to hire him, or especially put him in front of the cameras. So, Hollywood being Hollywood, Arbuckles decided to work as a director and screen writer under an alias.... William Goodrich. As with nearly everything surrounding his life and story, where the name came from has become legend. Buster Keaton claims that he tried to get Arbuckle to take on the name Will B. Good but that Arbuckle had claimed he thought that was too obvious. Some reports claim that William Goodrich was the first and middle names of his father, while other reports claim it was the name of his maternal grandfather. I could not determine which was true, however, if I were left to gander which it were I would guess that it was the name of his grandfather. My reasoning for this is that most reports state that Fatty Arbuckle did not get along well with his father. Story is that because he was a huge baby (that caused his mother health problems until she died when he was 12) his father had protested and claimed he could not be his and then in turn named him Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle. Roscoe Conkling was a politician out of New York who had a reputation as a womanizer. It was also said that while his mother was alive and had supported his singing and entertainment talent his father was especially cruel to him after her death. This leads me to believe that it would be more likely that the name he chose to later work under would have come from someone he actually respected. He did a few things under this name but most accounts state it was obvious he was not happy or enjoyed his work. It is likely that he just severely needed the money and he knew no other way of life to be truthful. And then finally, after much pressure to give him another chance, he got in front of the camera again in 1932, making a few comedy shorts. Then in June of 1933 Warner Brothers decided it was time for more and signed a contract with Arbuckle to film a feature movie once again. Now, most reports say that the very night he signed the contract with Warner Brothers (although it very well could have been just shortly after) he went out to celebrate with friends. He then went home and that night died in his sleep from a heart attack on June 29, 1933 at the age of 46.
*** I have to say that I believe this case has been the most frustrating so far that I have attempted to compile together. It has taken me much longer than any previous one to do. I admit that a lot of that is my fault as I continually felt overwhelmed and had to walk away for a while many times. The problem is that so much of the information is conflicting with each other or just flat out false (or at the very least unsubstantiated). I had to try to figure out what was the most logical facts but still some were worthy of mentioning, not necessarily because of their plausibility but because they seemed to have been ingrained into legend. There were things I found in my research that was stated as a fact where I was almost certain it had been determined that it was not. There are still reports and websites out now that claim not only that Virginia was raped, but that a coke or wine bottle was used. I hope that I was very clear that is was not something that was admitted to, determined or even truly ever suspected but something that was fabricated, maybe to sell newspapers, who knows.
So was Fatty Arbuckle actually innocent? I would like to say that he was but to be honest I cannot say for sure that more did not happen than was said. I also do not think that if Virginia was harmed by him that it was in any way on purpose but I do not believe the theory given by the prosecution. Something caused Virginia's bladder to burst. Did she hit it on the bathroom sink or tub (if we believe that Fatty found her in the bathroom in the room either vomiting or unconscious)? Just how sick was she when she went to the party and just how serious was the infection she had? Statistically bladders do not just simply bursts. The most common reason for a ruptured bladder is a car accident, which as far as we know she was not in one. Did she bump it or hit it in some way violently (maybe when she was supposedly thrashing around the room)? Was she hit by someone else? Could it have been Arbuckle? Could it have been someone else? Remember, she was engaged at the time. Rumors swirled not long after her death because it seems her finance' was quick to recover from his emotional turmoil as he married another woman within weeks (or was it days). In the end he was buried next to Virginia in Hollywood but that does not mean he was good to her when she was alive. Had she had an abortion within hours or days of going to the party? Could she have received a procedure in which her bladder was damaged? I do not know, and it is not likely anyone will ever know for sure. Funny enough it seems the one person who came out of this pretty unscathed was Maude Delmont. Her goal had always apparently been money and regardless of the outcome or the fact that she never seemingly got money from Arbuckle, she still made money off the situation. She never seemed to make anything else of her life as I attempted to see what may have happened to her later in life but was unable to find anything that was not directly related to her claims in this case.
It just seems sad to me that not only will we never have full answers but this era, with the yellow journalism, was not even accurately reported on. Fatty Arbuckle paved the way for so many more talented people to come for generation but he will go down in history as the man who raped and murdered, Virginia Rappe, the woman who had more abortions than one could count, and got away with it.