Given the profusion of gossip-mongering websites and magazines
today, you’d think celebrity scandal was a recent invention. But way before
Lindsay Lohan’s coke problem, Kim Kardashian’s sex tape and Brangelina’s
scandalous affair, massive brood of children and subsequent divorce
proceedings, the celebrities of Hollywood’s golden age were committing equally
Many are lulled into the illusion that there was once a time when
Tinseltown’s stars were respectable and morally upstanding. Well, they’d be
wrong. Just because there was no social media or as many gossipy tabloids
around back then constantly reporting the private lives of celebrities doesn’t
mean that Hollywood’s VIPs weren’t up to all kinds of shocking stuff.
Scandalous love affairs, salacious crimes and suspicious deaths
were common all occurrences in golden age Hollywood’s circles. Here are some of
the era’s most outrageous moments.
10. Fatty Arbuckle & Virginia Rappe’s Death
At one point Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, star of such movies as Miss
Fatty’s Seaside Lovers and The Baggage Smasher, was one of the most popular
stars of the silent film era. That is until one fateful evening in 1921 when
young aspiring actress Virginia Rappe took gravely ill at a raucous, bootlegged
booze fuelled hotel party hosted by Arbuckle and died just a few days later.
Although her official cause of death was peritonitis triggered by
a ruptured bladder rumours began to fly, stoked mostly by Rappe’s friend
Bambina Maude Delmont who had quite a reputation for extortion and fraud in
Hollywood circles and claimed that Arbuckle had raped Rappe. Arbuckle was
arrested and charged with manslaughter and once the press got their greasy
mitts on the story they predictably ran with it, coming up with
gossip-mongering headlines that claimed the star had violated Rappe with a Coke
bottle and caused her bladder to rupture with his hulking form.
After three trials, Arbuckle was eventually cleared of his charge
but his career and reputation were effectively ruined. Initially subjected to a
ban from the movie industry, Arbuckle’s good name was so tarnished that even
when the ban was lifted Hollywood was reluctant to work with him again. He
staged a brief comeback a decade later but Sod’s Law struck again and he died
just hours after signing a feature film contract with Warner Brothers.
Dubbed Hollywood’s first scandal, the whole ordeal arguably set
the precedent for decades of star bashing and smut dredging to come.