10 Golden Age Scandals Hollywood Wants You To Forget

Muckraking through old school Hollywood’s most outrageous scandals and smut.

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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 scandalous acts.

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

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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.

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