I read a snippet in a book a few weeks ago that discussed the Roscoe Arbuckle case, and I thought to myself...is Virginia Rappe the one to hate in this whole trial? When I read about the case for the first time in Hollywood Babylon years ago, I blamed her, and I blamed him a little as well. That book paints everyone involved in a bad light. But once you get the REAL story, you see that the real enemy here was Maude Delmont, the one who "represented" Virginia during the trial.
26, she was my age when she died! She was a beautiful girl who's death was used to create one hell of a circus by the money/attention hungry Maude Delmont...Virginia's "friend."
Her grandmother died when she was 14, so she began working as a model to help support herself. The next year or two later, she moved to San Francisco to pursue her modeling career even further. The next year, she was given her first movie role in the film Paradise Garden. She also added an 'e' to the end of her name so her stage name would sound more sophisticated.
In 1918, she appeared in the film Over the Rhine with then newcomer, Rudolph Valentino. After appearing in this film, she was named "The Best Dressed Girl in Pictures," which led her to create her own clothing line. The movie unfortunately wasn't released until 1920, under the title The Adventuress.
She appeared in about 10 films that are known. It is possible that she appeared in more, but the director she worked for at the time, Henry Lehrman, has many lost films...so we may never know.
As the party progressed and the liquor flowed, she got drunker and drunker. A few hours in, Roscoe went into the bathroom and found Virginia laying on the floor. He picked her up, laid her on the bed, and brought her some water. He returned to the party for a few minutes, and when he came back, she was on the floor in agony. She kept drifting in and out of conciousness, so he thought of an old trick his friend Buster Keaton had told him. To find out if someone is really sick or just faking, you should hold ice to their thigh. Roscoe did just that with no response. It was at this time that Maude Delmont walked in and oh I bet her mind started turning at the sight she saw!
Shortly after, Virginia began screaming and tearing her clothes off, and thinking she was just drunk and causing a scene, Roscoe wanted her out of there.
Roscoe sent word for the doctor to come around and even paid to have him look at her in a separate room. She was laid in a cold bath to try and cool down until she was moved into the new room, where she was dosed with morphine so she could sleep. The next day the doctor came in again to give her morphine and even fitted her with a catheter. FINALLY she was taken to the hospital.
She was buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Was Virginia's death caused by being raped with a champagne bottle? No. What about a Coke bottle? No. Was she raped by Roscoe Arbuckle at all? No. Doctors deduced that her ruptured bladder was most likely caused by one of her numerous abortions. She reportedly had two before the age of 16. It is rumored that in 1918 she actually had a daughter but put her into foster care. No one knows if this is 100% true or not. It is also rumored that she could have been pregnant when she died, but for some weird reason, her organs were removed and destroyed after her autopsy, so we will never know.
Yet ANOTHER rumor about her death is that Virginia came over to Roscoe at the party and started tickling him. Roscoe was a very ticklish guy, which she may or may not have known, but either way he got up from where he was sitting, and tried to stop her from tickling him by blocking her with his arms and legs. Apparently, he brought his leg up and kneed Virginia in the stomach which led her to stumble into the bathroom and start saying "He did it. He did this to me!" Is this why she said this? Who knows.
So, what did Maude Delmont do after her "friend's" death? She claimed that Virginia ran in screaming that Roscoe had raped her and that she had told the hospital doctors the same thing. She made sure that he was arrested and charged with murder. Maude never had the chance to testify because character witnesses destroyed her reputation. She was a liar known for trying to extort money from powerful figures and was rumored to have teamed with Virginia to extort Arbuckle, but this was never proven.
Three trials later, he was finally acquitted of all charges, but Maude had done her job by ruining him in the eyes of the public. He may have been found 100% innocent, but the press had painted him black, so the audiences weren't interested anymore.