Silent film comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was at the top of his profession. He was the first movie star to make a million (tax-free) dollars a year. His world came crashing down on a September day in 1921. At a party he threw in a San Francisco hotel room, a party girl and would-be actress named Virginia Rappe was injured and died a couple of days later. People said that Fatty raped her and, because he was so heavy, ruptured her bladder, leading to peritonitis. Fatty became the symbol for all that was corrupt in Hollywood. People were ready to believe the worst of him without finding out what really happened. The story became a nationwide sensation. Innuendo and rumor became accepted as fact, just as they are today. Fatty was eventually cleared by a jury in his third trial, but his career was essentially over. Motion picture distributors and exhibitors wanted nothing more to do with him. His name was tainted by scandal. He died in his mid-forties, some said of a broken heart.
Fatty’s in Trouble