Considered the first major celebrity scandal in the history of cinema, silent film comedian and director Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle held a party at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco on September 3, 1920, renting several rooms and inviting several women to attend. Among the guests was Virginia Rappe, who afterwards was hospitalized for a ruptured bladder and peritonitis, and later died. Her friend, Maude Delmont, accused Arbuckle of causing Rappe’s death through violent sexual assault, for which he was arrested on rape and manslaughter charges.
The scandal dogged Arbuckle his entire life. After two trials that ended with a hung jury, he was finally acquitted at his third trial, but the damage the scandal had inflicted on his reputation and career was irreparable.