Saturday, August 2, 2014

Arbuckle: Hollywood’s First Scandal, Part lV

During his trails many speculated that Arbuckle’s weight--350 pounds--would be used against him.

A headline that proclaims
Zey Prevon is a star witness
for Mathew Brady.
In Hearst’s papers, there were graphic descriptions of how his weight as he raped Rappe was the reason her bladder ruptured--more sensationalism or what is called "yellow press"--which Hearst's papers were expert at.

Roscoe's weight caused him unimaginable pain. When he was born at 14 pounds his father disowned him--based on the belief that this large baby could not be his--so his wife must have cheated on him.

Roscoe was the victim of teasing and bullying by his peer group as a child. He dealt with the emotional pain by eating more--this became a vicious cycle.

When he first married Minty he had to wait for several days before he was comfortable enough to consummate the marriage.

Roscoe never referred to himself as “Fatty” he never liked this name.

Most Likely Cause of Death

More recent researchers into the Arbuckle case believe that Rappe died as a result of an infection caused by her previous multiple abortions, others state that the one she had just before the Labor Day party was botched causing her death. 

She died of a peritonitis infection-- that has similar side effects to what she experienced before her death--sometimes caused by back alley abortions.

Several of the partygoers mentioned that Rappe brought up the subject that she needed money for an abortion. They felt she had already had it and she owed the person who had performed it.

Many believe that the physician that Delmont called in-- Dr. Runwell who was "known for performing abortions" actually was the one who performed Rappe’s abortion. He could not let this be known.

During the first trial the hotel doctor--Dr. Beardslee testified that he felt Rappe needed surgery. When asked why he didn't follow through on this he evaded. Was it because he knew what was truly wrong and did not want to be implicated. One has to wonder.

When the autopsy was performed on Rappe several of her organs including her uterus mysteriously disappeared. Did someone arrange this?

A Life Ruined

At the time of his acquittal Roscoe owed his attorney’s $700,000. He lost his house, cars and his career.

In an ironic footnote to his trails in 1922 Roscoe had to pay a $500 fine because he had bought illegal liquor for the party. This was in direct violation of the Volstead Act.

Arbuckle’s name was now synonymous with everything bad about Hollywood. He was the first person in Hollywood to be blacklisted in 1922.

The man responsible for this was the former U.S Postmaster, Will Hays. The Hays Office was an organization that was dedicated to sanitizing the motion picture industry.

Will Hays
Some state the Hays Office was why the film industry and Arbuckle’s studio head didn’t come to his defense. Hollywood feared that public outrage would result in a public outcry for government censorship. To avoid this, they lined up and agreed to follow the rules the Hays Office helped to form.

An example of this for those who are too young to remember was if a male and female appeared on a bed together in a film one of them had to be sitting up with their feet firmly planted on the floor.

Others felt the real reason the industry heads didn’t support Arbuckle was because they still resented him for giving actors a “name” which gave them star power and more credit and money.

All showings of Arbuckle’s films were stopped. Roscoe was not allowed to appear in front of a camera for the next decade.

He did work as a director under the pseudonym William B. Goodrich. He also was able to find stage work.

It was during this time he helped launch Bob Hope's career.

Things are Looking Up

Roscoe with Doris Deane
Minty divorced Roscoe in 1925 so he could marry Doris Deane, a lovely dimpled actress. This marriage lasted only 3 years.

In the 1930s Roscoe started to appear in front of the camera again. He made a series of light-hearted slapstick 2-reelers. His fans flocked to see these funny films.

Roscoe married his third wife--a dark-haired pretty actress named Addie McPhail in 1932. Their marriage was a success.

Roscoe with Addie McPhail

Warner Brothers offered Roscoe a film contract in 1933. He and Addie went out to dinner to celebrate. But he was unable to fulfill this contract. For after Addie and he returned from their celebration dinner Roscoe died of heart disease in his sleep at the age of 46.

Buster Keaton at the time stated his longtime friend had died of a broken heart. But Roscoe was in a happy marriage, and his film career was about to begin again. So he had regained much of the happiness that was taken after Rappe’s death.

Roscoe loved to make people laugh, and he was good at it. His pictures are his legacy and a testament to his genius.

Virginia Rappe’s Ghost

No one deserves to die the way Virginia Rappe did. Her life was often hard, and her death was tragic.

Virginia Rappe
By all accounts, she had emotional problems. Roscoe Arbuckle never personally blamed Rappe.

The story of her haunting is one of the saddest I have ever read.

It is said she still haunts her gravesite located at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. She is heard moaning and screaming which she did in the days that led up to her death.

It is reported that an icy coldness often surrounds her grave and that the sound of sobbing is also heard.

Here is a link to Part l Roscoe Arbuckle: Hollywood's First Scandal where I share information about his early years and his rise to fame.

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