Virginia Rappe's Life


Virginia Rappe

Virginia Rappe became a household name after she tragically died in September of 1921. Hollywood superstar Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was charged with manslaughter after he allegedly raped the young actress in a hotel room. The scandal made headlines all over the world and almost one hundred years later there is still a mystery about who Virginia really was.

She was born Virginia Caroline Rapp in Chicago, Illinois on July 7, 1891. Virginia never knew her father who was rumored to be a wealthy man. Her mother, Mabel Rapp, was a model and chorus girl. She was known as the "Queen of Chicago's Chinatown." Mabel struggled with being a single mother and was arrested in 1898 for writing bad checks. Soon after they moved to New York City. Tragically Mabel died in 1903 leaving twelve year old Virginia to be raised by her grandmother. She took dance lessons and loved going to the movies. Virginia grew into a beautiful young woman and began modeling at the age of sixteen. She was five feet five inches tall with dark hair and a voluptuous figure. As a fashion model she traveled around the world earning more than $4,000 a year. She also appeared on the sheet music for the popular song "Let Me Call You Sweetheart".

Virginia Rappe 1908
Virginia in 1908 

Virginia RappeVirginia Rappe

Virginia started dating Harry Barker, a Chicago real estate developer, in 1910. He described her as "high spirited and full of fun.". They broke up and she was briefly engaged to a sculptor named John Sample. She went to New York City in 1913 to star in a play by Lew Fields. After several weeks of rehearsal she quit so she could go on a trip to Europe. In 1914 she moved to San Francisco and started a new career designing clothes. Virginia was a modern woman who wore tuxedo dresses and said she wanted to have "equal clothes rights with men". She was engaged to Albert d'Aklaine, an Argentinian millionaire, but broke up with him because he was too old. Then she became engaged to dress designer Robert Moscovitz. She said "He's the most considerate man I ever knew." Before they could be married Robert was killed in a streetcar accident. Devastated by his death she went to New York and worked as an extra in films. Virginia moved to Los Angeles in 1917 and rented a home at 504 N. Wilton Place.

Virginia Rappe 1914
Virginia in 1914 

Virginia RappeVirginia Rappe With Her Dog
                                                                                                                  With her dog Jeff

 She quickly landed a role in the comedy Paradise Garden. Next she costarred with a young Rudolph Valentino in The Isle Of Love. She fell in love with writer and director Henry Lehrman in 1918. He cast her in five of his films including His Musical Sneeze and A Twilight Baby. The former fashion designer was now called  "The Best Dressed Girl in Pictures". Virginia was a homebody who often went to bed before 9:00 PM. She loved to go hiking and spent most of her time with her beloved bulldog Jeff. Occasionally she would drink too much and when she got drunk she started acting erratically. She also suffered from a chronic bladder infection which caused her a lot of pain. Virginia and Henry had a volatile relationship and she was frustrated with his refusal to marry her. They broke up in the Spring of 1921 and she moved in with her close friend Kate Hardebeck. In July she had an operation to remove an abscess from her leg. Just a few months later she would be dead at the young age of thirty.

Virginia Rappe