The Death of Virginia Rappe

Heather Monroe
10 min readAug 26, 2019

When Justice Fails

Virginia Rappe, from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection, published Calisphere. Accessed August 25, 2019.

Virginia Rappe

Virginia Rappe came into the world on July 7, 1895, in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother was Mabel Rapp, a sometimes chorus girl with no husband or father for her baby daughter. When Virginia was 11, her mother passed away, and she went to live with her grandmother. But Virginia had bigger dreams.

At age 14, the beautiful brunette began posing for local artists and fashion designers. When Virginia reached the age of majority, she set sail west to San Francisco, California. She made a name for herself as both a model and a dress designer. She posed for a dress Designer named Robert Moscovitz. Virginia and Robert fell in love, and the two became engaged. This happiness was short-lived; a streetcar accident cut his life short.

After the death of her fiance, Virginia moved south to Los Angeles to pursue a career on the big screen. Virginia wasn’t exactly an unknown. She found work among the most brilliant artists of the silent film era to include drag revolutionary Julian Eltinge and a very young Rudolph Valentino. She even received an award as the “Best Dressed Girl in Pictures.”

In 1919, Virginia found love once more. This time with Hollywood director and producer Henry Lehrman, which guaranteed work for the young starlet. By 1920, The couple moved in together and planned to marry.

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, 1921. Public Doman

Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle was born March 24, 1887, in Smith Center, Kansas. His, Mary, and William Arbuckle, parents were slight in build. Imagine their surprise when their baby boy bounced into the world, weighing between 13 and 16 lbs. The size of the child was such a shock, that his father didn’t believe him to be biologically his, and shunned not so little Roscoe. The birth itself was traumatic for Mary and contributed to her death 12 years later.

The Arbuckle family moved to Santa Ana when Roscoe was eight years old, where his father found hotel work. Roscoe’s school mates in Santa Ana cruelly called him “Fatty,” and it stuck. Frank Bacon’s Vaudeville Company stopped over at…

Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•