Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Miss Virginia Rappe

I have been debating this entry for a couple days, and just trying to figure out what my stance is on the whole ordeal.

I read a snippet in a book a few weeks ago that discussed the Roscoe Arbuckle case, and I thought to 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.

When I went to Hollywood Forever the first time, I paid my respects to her and said I was sorry for what happened. But after I read different accounts, I just walked by her grave without saying anything. I think the next time I go, I should sit with her and tell her again how sorry I am for what happened to her. Yes, she lived a wild and out of control lifestyle. She wasn't a saint, by any means! She loved to take her clothes off at parties, drink heavily, have sex with anyone and everyone...It was the 1920s, who wasn't living the high life?! The only difference is, Virginia's fast living caused her early, unfortunate death.

Virginia Rappe was born Virginia Caroline Rapp on July 7, 1895 in New York City. She was born to her unwed chorus girl (and rumored prostitute) mother, Mabel, who died when Virginia was 11. She never knew her father, and after her mother died, she was raised by her grandmother in Chicago.

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 we may never know.

On September 5, 1921 Virginia attended a party at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco given by Roscoe Arbuckle. She came with her new friend, Maude Delmont, who in fact she only met a few days prior. No one really invited Virginia, so she pretty much just crashed the party.

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.

Virginia Rappe passed away on September 9, 1921. Her cause of death was listed as a ruptured bladder and peritonitis.

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.

Virginia never married, but was engaged twice. Her first fiance was dress designer Robert Moscovitz who she met when she first moved to California. Sadly, shortly after they got engaged, he was killed in a car accident. After this loss, Virginia moved to Los Angeles. There she met producer/director Henry Lehrman and worked for him. They became engaged a short while later, and were still engaged when she died. When Lehrman died in 1946, he was buried next to Virginia.

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.

RIP Virginia.


  1. So you've read The Day the Laughter Stopped? I didn't want to speak ill of the dead but I'm glad you found the truth about Labor Day 1921. Virginia (not a bad girl) liked the boys. No mother no father , basically used by people from an early age. Henry Lehrman douche! Zukor and Lasky double douches! They could have protected Roscoe but didn't.

  2. I have that book sitting on my shelf. I agree that Roscoe was just thrown under the boss, and it was awful. Thank goodness for people like Marion Davies and my lovely Buster for helping him out.

  3. What is the REAL truth. I know I'm decades late, but if I were a betting woman I would say that any real witnesses or anyone who can ACCURATELY set the record straight are DEAD by now, long dead I might add. I think it's sad that the personal details of her life were told by everyone else but HER. Was she a lost girl who had 5 abortions by the age of 16? Did she have a botched abortion the day before this infamous case? Did she have a baby @17 only to give it up in foster care? Who knows....NOBODY. Well nobody can say if that is %100 the truth. And even if it is, so what? What people really should ask is "why did she say the grim words HE DID THIS TO ME"? Some say she said "HE BROKE ME" and apparantly looked or pointed his way while she lay dying in pain. Nobody really knows what happend because all who are involved are dead and long gone. Both have tarnished reputations beyond repair still decades after they're deaths. I think the real culprit in this by far was MAUDE DELMONT. Money hungry and an aging woman living through the life of a "loose" & ambitious girl Virginia Rappe. Again, the only question I would ask or care about is why did she (Virginia) make that statement HE DID THIS before she fell uncounsious only to die days later in such scandal and distaste. I would be rolling around fuming in my grave if I were Arbuckle and Rappe. Those news reporters and journalists were douchebags to.....lies and rumors that journalists and reporters still tell. Only its now the Kardashians, Beibers, the Rihannas of todays time.

  4. I agree 100%. Maude Delmont was an evil hag. She is almost completely left out of the true story while Virginia is being blamed as the victim and Roscoe is the villian. I am hoping that my blog and others out there will help clear his name in people's eyes.

  5. Actually there is no way to rupture a bladder during an abortion unless you rupture the uturus as well. There is no evidence of multiple abortions. She was engaged to be married and her career was on the upswing. She was declared the best dressed girl in Hollywood.
    She is an example of lawyers destroying the victim to try to get a defendent off.
    While I doubt that Arbuckle assaulted her in any way, he was the host of the party. He should have sent her to the hospital.

  6. Yes, I agree. The idea of rupturing a bladder during an abortion sounds fishy to me and they say she went to the party directly afterwards. Virginia was on her way up not only being declared the best dressed girl in pictures, but also that there was talk of her starring in a new Fox film "Twilight Baby".
    She had started her own line of clothing and was engaged to a well known director. I believe the lawyers did destroy her character in order to get their star defendant off. Arbuckle did have a doctor look at her, and he did arrange a room for her, but at some earlier point they should have sent her to the hospital.

  7. Maude Delmont's motives still seem highly questionable, but Arbuckle's lawyers are also to blame for doing a sterling job (if you can call it that) of mud slinging Rappe's character in order to save their client.

    There may have been some truth to the allegations that Rappe enjoyed partying and had sexual flings, as it was with Arbuckle, but this has nothing to do with the circumstances of how Rappe sustained her injury. The stories of the numerous abortions are based only on the unverified claims of Arbuckle's former wife Minta Durfree and gossip writer Adela Rogers St. John.

    The cause of ruptured bladders are usually due to external forces, such as a blow, falling, or a car accident - it would have been an extremely unlikely complication of an abortion. The question is, what external force caused Rappe's bladder to rupture that evening?

    1. It is so interesting because you know nowadays this case would most likely be thrown out but back then, a complete circus. This case and the Chaplin/Barry case are ones that make you wonder whether or not they had apes in the judicial system.

  8. Almost one century later unprejudiced, sexually active women still get called whores while men get away with murder time and again. If any, Virginia Rappe deserves our deepest sympathy, as much as Roscoe does.

    1. I agree. The "standards" have not changed. It is hard to see Virginia as the one at fault because she was dead, so Maude Delmont is the one who was the ringmaster for this whole mess.

  9. I think you told Virginia's story in a fair and honest way. The truth is she and Fatty were BOTH victims. I do believe Virginia had a few abortions and drank too much but I read that an infection could have caused her bladder to rupture and I really think that's what happened. Virginia was a very beautiful woman and the few remaining film clips we have show her potential.

    1. Thank you. Like I stated, it took awhile for me to realize that there were two victims in this case, and not just one. Virginia wasn't the one making all these accusations, it was Maude Delmont...for who knows what reason. Sad case.

  10. Would it be the first time someone lost their reputation for all time by a member(s) of the opposite sex? I rather think not. We all have by this era, witnessed the most tawdry behaviors by those in very high, well paid positions - from supposed good families, educations, etc., not merely the back street, gutter types. All the more shocking these! Consider by contrast the sad, sad truth of Virginia Rappe's sorry beginnings and you will likely have your answers to the questions of how and why. RIP VR & RA. God alone knows the truth.

  11. Wow. I definitely think that Maude Belmont was a nasty woman