|Salem, Oregon Capital Journal, 12-September-1921|
100 years ago today, on 12-September-1921, comedian Roscoe Arbuckle was arrested in connection with the death of actress Virginia Rappe, who died in a San Francisco hospital on 09-September-1921. She had been in critical condition since attending a Labor Day party held by actor Roscoe Arbuckle at the Saint Francis Hotel on 05-November-1921. She died because of a ruptured bladder which became infected. Stories began to circulate that Arbuckle had assaulted Rappe. Tried for manslaughter three times, he was acquitted. Virginia Rappe was 26 when she died. Arbuckle's career was ruined. The newspapers sold a lot of copies. Many people who tried to defend Arbuckle said some nasty and unfounded things about Virginia Rappe. Mrs. Bambina Maude Delmont, who had come to the party with Virginia Rappe, told a doctor at the hospital that Arbuckle had raped her friend. The doctor found no evidence of rape. Delmont had been accused of extortion, and may have tried to get money from Arbuckle's attorneys. San Francisco District Attorney Matthew Brady used the case to boost his career. Comedy producer and director Henry (Pathé) Lehrman said he had been engaged to Rappe, and pushed hard for Arbuckle to be tried. Tried for manslaughter three times, Arbuckle was acquitted. Virginia Rappe was 26 when she died. Arbuckle's career was ruined. The newspapers sold a lot of copies. Many people who tried to defend Arbuckle said some nasty and unfounded things about Virginia Rappe.
MURDER CHARGE FILED
Film Comedian Held Without Bail on Charge
Preferred by Friend of Dead Actress; Prosecutor
Says Case Against "Fatty" Complete;
Coroner's Inquest Today.
San Francisco, Sept. 12. -- A formal complaint charging murder was sworn to before Police Judge Daniel O'Brien today against Roscoe C. (Fatty) Arbuckle in connection with the death of Miss Virginia Rappe, a motion picture actress. The complaint was signed by Mrs. Bambina Maude Delmont, a friend of the dead actress.
Arbuckle appeared in court to be arraigned on the charge sworn to by Mrs. Delmont. At the request of the district attorney the case was continued until Friday morning and Arbuckle was taken back to his cell.
Dr. T. B. W. Leland, city and county coroner, said that the inquest would start today, but probably would not be concluded until tomorrow. Doctors Arthur Beardslee, William Ophuls and M. E. Rumwell who attended Miss Rappe, will be called on to testify today, he said. Arbuckle will be present at the inquest, but may not testify today.
In his answer to Lehrman, Brady said Miss Rappe's body would not be shipped to her home in Los Angeles until after the inquest. He asked Lehrman what his wishes were in regard to the funeral.
Mrs. Delmont appeared to be near collapse after making the charge against Arbuckle.
The arraignment was conducted in a haze of flashlight smoke, the flashlights popping with machine gun regularity.
Arbuckle appeared through a side door, flanked by his attorneys and the police guard. He appeared greatly dejected and heaved many sighs.
Court Room Packed.
Following the court session and before he was taken back to his cell, he was given an opportunity to go Into the judge's chambers and smoke a cigarette while the arraignment papers were being made out.
The little court room was packed, the spectators rising in their chairs when Arbuckle appeared and remaining in that position during the brief session. There were few women present.
District Attorney Brady announced that he had received a telegram from Henry Lehrman, motion picture producer of New York and fiancé of Miss Rappe, asking him to obtain a sworn statement from Mrs. Delmont. Brady replied that the statement has already been obtained.
Mrs. Spreckles Named.
Brady said also that he had sent for Mrs. Sidi Wirt Spreckles, widow of John D. Spreckles Jr., who was killed in an automobile accident recently, to question her regarding a visit she made to Miss Rappe at the girl's request after the attack.
Mrs. Delmont, in signed and sworn statements, gave the police many details of the party in Arbuckle's rooms in the St. Francis hotel here a week ago today, at which time Miss Rappe was subjected to an alleged attack by Arbuckle. She died four days later.
Mrs. Delmont attended the party and assisted Miss Rappe after the alleged attack. She appeared personally in court to swear to the complaint. Arbuckle was not in court when the complaint was filed.
Arbuckle is held without bail in the Hall of Justice here. He was arrested last Saturday night on his arrival from Los Angeles and was booked on a charge or murder.
Goes to Grand Jury.
The Arbuckle case is scheduled to be brought before the San Francisco county grand jury tonight. A coroner's inquest into Miss Rappe's death has been called for next Thursday.
Arbuckle has requested that none but his attorneys be allowed to see him at the Hall of Justice. He declined yesterday, on the advice of counsel, to make any statement. His lawyers also refused to make a statement or discuss the case in any way.
Police yesterday were busy examining witnesses whom they say will be presented to the grand jury tonight. These witnesses number 22 and are being guarded by police detectives.
Shows Cancel Films.
Representatives of the Famous Players-Lasky corporation, distributors of the films in which Roscoe Arbuckle is featured, said today that there bad been some cancellations of Arbuckle's pictures as a result of the scandal involving the actor. Any declaration of policy in regard to the corporation's pictures would have to come from New York.
The corporation representatives here declined to say where the pictures were cancelled outside of San Francisco. There were' two cancellations here.
Arbuckle went to bed on his narrow cell couch at 9 o'clock last night and apparently slept soundly. When the prison watch shouted "everybody up" at the usual rising time today, he awakened, but rolled over on the bed and tried to go to sleep again. He was told he must get up, however, so he arose, smilingly.
Eats Big Breakfast.
While he did not take advantage of the prison showers, he dressed with the greatest care. He ordered his breakfast from the outside and when the waiter came, held a long, secret conference with him. The waiter brought back a carefully covered tray which Arbuckle attacked with all of the secrecy possible.
He continued to decline to see any visitors, other than his attorneys. He is scheduled to appear in police court for formal arraignment today.
Captain of Detectives Matheson ordered that Arbuckle be placed in the regular morning lineup of prisoners which is held for the police detectives each morning, and that he be photographed for the rogue's gallery and his fingerprints and Bertillon measurements taken.
Case "Complete" Claim.
Arbuckle consented later to see a group of newspaper men, but refused to discuss the Rappe case with them. He appeared dejected but said he was receiving good treatment in the jail.
District Attorney Grady through Deputy Milton T. U'Ren, said:
"We have a complete case against Arbuckle."
Arbuckle's appearance in police court was delayed until his Bertillon measurements could be taken and he could be photographed for the rogue's gallery.
The measurements showed that his weight was 266 pounds and his height 5 feet 8 5/8 inches. He gave his birthplace as Kansas and his age at 34.
LEHRMAN ENGAGED TO
GIRL; TO PUSH CHARGE
New York, Sept. 12. -- Henry Lehrman, motion picture director, who was engaged to marry Virginia Rappe, the film actress for whose death Roscoe Arbuckle .is held in jail in San Francisco, today said he would devote every moment he could spare from his business to pressing the comedian's prosecution.
"I cannot got to the coast in person," he said, "but I am doing everything that can be done by telephone."
Mr. Lehrman said that he would supervise funeral arrangements after the inquest in San Francisco Thursday. Miss Rappe, he said, had no near relatives. Burial will be in Los Angeles.