Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Meet Virginia (Haunted Hollywood Part III)

"Even their graveyard is glamorous."

The young couple held hands and stared, mesmerized, at the lush green paradise surrounding them.

Tall, skinny palm trees burst from a elegantly manicured lawn. Gothic concrete tombstones dusted the landscape.

They had managed to roam into a desolate area of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In the distance, they could see specks of other tourists paying respects to silver screen icons on a cloudy Labor Day.

As they drew nearer to one section, they could hear a woman crying.

"This place is so beautiful, I forget that actual people have relatives buried here," the 25-year-old girl whispered to her boyfriend.

But as they drew nearer, and the sobbing grew louder, the couple realized something was wrong.

Sitting near a tombstone was a black-haired woman wearing a shredded dress. Her face was buried into her lap.

When the couple stopped walking, the woman looked up.

And then she disappeared.

Hollywood's first and most widely seen and heard ghost is Virginia Rappe.

For almost 100 years, there have been dozens of reports from people hearing and seeing a woman sobbing near Virginia's grave, and then she vanishes into thin air.

When she was barely 20, Virginia moved to Hollywood from Chicago in 1916, desperate to escape a past clogged with abortions, a child out of wedlock, and most likely, sexual abuse.

Stunningly beautiful, she quickly gained work as a model and then as a film actress.

Life was fabulous for the gorgeous brunette. She was the first Hollywood style icon, being officially named "The Best Dressed Girl in Pictures." The public adored Virginia.

But by 1921, her past behavior had caught up with her.

She was humiliated by an incident when a studio executive publicly condemned her for passing an STD to several crew members. Her much-older boyfriend was a complete douchebag. And there were rumors that she was pregnant, seeking to have yet another abortion.

To escape Hollywood's scorn, Virginia accepted an invitation to Fatty Arbuckle's Labor Day weekend bash in San Francisco. To celebrate his new $3 million studio contract, the good-natured overweight comedian had reserved three rooms for a fabulous weekend, promised to be filled with (illegal) unlimited supply of liquor, hot and steamy orgies, and plenty of wild dancing.

On Labor Day, the party had gotten out of control with dozens of people filing in and out of the hotel rooms, giddily drunk and practically naked.

And around 3 p.m. that afternoon, Fatty walked into the bathroom and found Virginia nearly passed out on the floor. Thinking she was merely intoxicated, he picked her up and placed her on the bed.

The next 24 hours, all hell broke loose.

After being placed on the bed, Virginia started tearing at her clothing and screaming in agony. Fatty tried to control her, but she lashed out at him. When people came in the room, Fatty told them Virginia must have had way too much to drink and could they help him put her to bed?

Virginia started screaming that Fatty had violently raped her and she was going to die.

A doctor came and examined Virginia. He found not only no evidence of rape, but no evidence that she had even had sex recently. He did notice she was sweating profusely and in intense pain. He gave her a shot of morphine and left.

The next morning, the 26-year-old was taken to the hospital, where she died of an infection due to a ruptured bladder.

Fatty was charged with rape and murder and after a highly publicized trial, he was declared innocent.

Despite his name being cleared, his reputation was tarnished so badly that his career as America's favorite funny guy was destroyed. He was a ruined man.

And the rumors have been swirling about Virginia's death ever since.

The most popular theory is that Virginia had suffered a botched abortion before she attended the party. After all, it was known that she had been pregnant.

Another major theory is that bacteria from an STD had caused peritonitis, which had ruptured her bladder.

And of course, there are still Hollywood historians, who swear to this day, that Fatty had indeed violently raped Virginia, his morbidly obese body rupturing her bladder in the process.

Unfortunately, since Virginia's organs were destroyed after her death, there is virtually no way of knowing.

So for now, we just have to tip-toe around her grave. And endure the broken-hearted sobs of a woman who came to Hollywood to be a star, and left it as an enigma.

Paving the way for all the beautiful women who became ghosts in her footsteps.

Happy Halloween!


Bunny Moreno said...

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO glad you wrote about her! I read about her recently was thinking about including her in a post but yours is wayyyy better! I loved it and its crazy right? I mean that poor man having his career destroyed by this scandal. I think it was a botched abortion or other disease that was inside of her. So tragic. So many starlets yrs later we deemed unable to have children bc of so many abortions. I wonder what her life was like when she was younger-all the things that happened to her. Sheesh. Where is her grave located anyway? Great post sweets! Happy Halloween!!! xox

The Dainty Dolls House said...

This was blooming marvellous...very tragic for everyone involved really. Super post...Happy Halloween doll x

David Macaulay said...

great post - had never heard of her, mind you - shame - she looks like such a nice girl too - hope it's going well for u

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

I don't think it was him. The doctor found no evidence of such. It was probably all of the abortions. WOW that was crazy. It's amazing finding out about the lives of starlett's past.

when BABI speaks said...

it was nice to learn about this girl through your post. such a great story.


Sherin said...

Such an intense story. I actually got goosebumps reading it.

A BRIT GREEK said...

Another tragic Hollywood story, it's kinda freaky that she's a well known ghost... who knows what the real reason was for her death huh? It could have been a number of things.

Anyhoos, great story.

Tanvi said...

What a story! And what a tragedy. Great post Jenny!

∞ © ∞

Couture Carrie said...

Spooky story.
Love these pics!


P.S. Thanks for your sweet comment ~ maybe I will buy some BF jeans ;)

Cafe Fashionista said...

Wow. That was an incredible story. You should be one of those glamorous crime reporters who digs up dirt on the unsolved mysteries of Hollywood starlets - you would be incredible at it!! :)

Amy K said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Would you like to follow each other?

Much Love,

Beckerman Girls said...

OHHHHHHH SCARRRY! Our sis is in LA!! So we gotta do all of these things!!! WWOWOWOWOWOW!!!
xoThe Beckerman Girls

Fashion Tales said...

Haunting. That's some story. I must agree with Cafe Fashionista you definitely have a calling dear. Loved reading about her, thanks for sharing. -xx

Yetti said...

Oh Em Geeeeee, that was wonderful! I have never heard of her... WTH [ does research ]

Arielle-HumblePieVintage said...

She was gorgeous! I bet she had an abortion and something went wrong or the STD thing. I don't know, I just don't think he raped her. It would be cool to go to her grave!

Blytheponytailparades said...

Oooh this is so crazy creepy and sad. I've never even heard of her!

Jessi said...

I love reading about stuff like this! I find it so fascinating!

ravenlocks said...

I read about Fatty's trial in a film history class a few years ago. They never mentioned Virginia's side of the story and just make it seem as though she was some drunken slut. Maybe she was, but she didn't deserve to die/be killed.

Crazy story. And again, beautifully written!



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