Mystery Woman’s Mystery Death

By | Jul 7, 2009

The life of Virgina Rappe is almost clouded in as much mystery as her death. Rappe, who was born on July 7, 1895, was discovered sick in Silent Comedy star Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle’s vacation bedroom in San Francisco on September 5, 1921. four days later she died of an inflammation of the lining of the pelvis.

Mostly due to false newspaper reports claiming that Arbuckle had raped the young actress during the wind weekend party either with his weight or the act of rape with a foreign object causing the rupture of her bladder, Arbuckle was arrested of raping and murdering Rappe.

Virginia Rappe (pronounce Rap-pey) life was tragic from the beginning. She was born out of wedlock and her mother Mabel moved from Chicago to New York to hide her shame. Mabel died when Virginia was 11 and went back to Chicago to be raised by her Grandmother.

She suffered what was probably a lonely and difficult childhood and if she didn’t use her body to her advantage she was used by men. By the age of 17 she possibly had a number of abortions as well as giving birth to a child that she gave up.

By 1917 she was in California getting work in motion pictures and dating director Henry “Pathé” Lehrman. Many of these roles were small, in a time when only major roles got a screen credit, so it’s hard to say how many films in which she appeared.

Shortly before leaving LA for San Francisco she and Lehrman separated and there was a rumor that she was pregnant. Was an abortion part of the cause of death? No one may ever know although it is the most common theory. She was remembered as saying during the party that “I need money for an abortion”.


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