The Fatty Arbuckle Scandal - 1920

The Details

On September 3, 1920 in the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, Fatty Arbuckle, an obese Hollywood comedy star, brutally rapes a young actress to death. "Fatty" Arbuckle was one of the first silent movie actors who received an annual salary of $1 million in the silent film industry. Arbuckle testified as innocent, going through three trials. During this time, he was hounded by newspapers and morality groups. He was very unpopular with the public, and was banned in the movie industry.There was not a valid eye witness to testify, therefore he ended up being acquitted of all crimes. In the end, his career was over. Arbuckle died in 1933 due to alcoholism and obesity.

The Mystery

The questions addressed will be: what evidence can be placed against Fatty Arbuckle? Who is Maude Delmont and is she a viable source of information? What if he is truly innocent, given that there is potentially no legitimate evidence? What happened at that party and why was the public so ready to believe "Fatty" was guilty?

The sources

The Victim

The victim, a naive young actress, puncturing her bladder during forced sex (with a beer bottle); she dies a painful death of peritonitis. Her name was "Bambina" Maude Delmont. She has criminal history of fraud and extortion.

It can also be said that "Fatty" Arbuckle himself was framed, and that he is a victim of this conviction.

The Suspects

There is one suspect: "Fatty" Arbuckle, who is convicted of the crime.

A woman named Maude Delmont is the witness for the prosecution who would never be called to testify because police and prosecutors knew her story would not hold up on the stand. What this woman had to say would be more than enough to ruin Arbuckle’s career, therefore she could be seen as suspicious in the crime. "Also known as 'Madame Black,' Delmont procured young women for parties where wealthy male guests soon found themselves accused of rape and blackmailed into paying Delmont. Then there was the matter of the telegrams that she sent to attorneys in both San Diego and Los Angeles: 'WE HAVE ROSCOE ARBUCKLE IN A HOLE HERE CHANCE TO MAKE SOME MONEY OUT OF HIM." (Smithsonian).

The Evidence

Arbuckle turned himself in, which is clear evidence of his guilt. Maude Delmont's story of the scene is evidence, whether or not it is reliable is another story. The ruptured bladder is clear evidence of some sexual violence. There is no evidence supporting the ruptured bladder in Arbuckle's testimony, because he states that he did not have any sexual relations with her. There is medical evidence showing that Rappe had had a chronic bladder condition, and her autopsy concluded that there “were no marks of violence on the body, no signs that the girl had been attacked in any way.” (Smithsonian).

The Narrator

I will be setting up the scene from the perspective of a journalist following the crime. She will be representing the public, which will address why the public was so quick to deem "Fatty" Arbuckle guilty, and the story behind Maude Delmont.

Comment Stream