The War on Film Culture: Part 6: The Star Treatment (1910-1935)

All of [the scandals] made the media, and of course America, question: What is Hollywood like?  We go to see the product that they make every week.  And they’re feeding us ideas and images.  But how do they live?  Are they not living by the same standards, the same moral values by which we live?

— Mark Viera

If the law is wrong, it ought to be changed; but the power for that is not with us.

–Chief Justice Morrison Waite of the United States Supreme Court; Virginia Minor v. Reese Happersett (1874); case in which the Court ruled that the Constitution did not grant anyone, specifically a female citizen, the right to vote even when a state law granted those rights to certain citizen classes.

Timeline Buildup

The first real motion picture celebrity was an actress who went by the alias Biograph Girl.  It wasn’t until 1910 when she was signed by Universal Pictures for advertisements and personal appearance tours (not to mention going on to appear in 300 films); that was when her name was revealed, Florence Lawrence.  She would also go on to invent (but not patent) the automobile “signaling arm” (to indicate when you’re turning and which direction) and the first mechanical brake signal in 1914.  She would fall on hard times after suffering from relapse in 1914, her career would flounder in the early 1920s, suffer from bad personal relationships, and commit suicide in 1938.  She would not be the first, or last, celebrity to suffer a terrible late-career fate.  But she would outlive others, who became stars after her.

1914, Mary Pickford became the first real movie superstar.  Canadian-born, co-founder of United Artists film studio in 1919 (as did the other famous film star Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith), she would star in 52 feature films.  Her fame faded when “talkies” (film with sound) grew in popularity from 1927 and onwards.  She retired from acting in 1933, and became an alcoholic (the same year prohibition ended).  After a tumultuous relationship with her family members, she became a recluse for the rest of her life until her death in 1979.

1914-1919, Theda Bara became popular.  Known as one of the earliest motion picture sex symbols, she was also known for being a vamp (dark and seductive) in her film roles.  Unfortunately, most of her films have been lost to the ravages of time.

Women’s clubs/organizations were prevalent during this time period.  They worked heavily to make prohibition and women’s suffrage legal.

1917, the same year famous silent film star Buster Keaton arrived on the film scene, America entered into World War I.  Soon after, the film The Spirit of ’76 is released.  A film portraying the Revolutionary War.  The film would be confiscated by the Chicago censorship board maker of the film, and Robert Goldstein would later be tried and convicted under the Espionage Act, for portraying Britain, America’s ally in World War I, in a negative light.  This film has been lost to the ravages of time.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/97/Ad_for_1917_silent_film_The_Spirit_of_%2776.jpg/220px-Ad_for_1917_silent_film_The_Spirit_of_%2776.jpg

December 18, 1917, thanks to the efforts of women’s rights organizations, the 18th Amendment (prohibition) is proposed by Congress.  Prohibition would become the rule of federal law two years later.

November 11, 1918, World War I ends, and the American economy took a nosedive.  There was no need to be manufacturing weapons and inventory for war now.  When the soldiers returned stateside, they flooded an overwhelmed job market made all the worse when a depression hit at the start of 1920.  It made many look forward to finding an escape from reality and into entertainment.  Since the motion picture industry showed no signs of slowing down, and with the growing popularity of various movie celebrities, the movies were an optimal choice.  And with the European continent devastated by the war and in poor financial straits, it was prime time for Hollywood films to take advantage of the international market like never before.

January 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment is adopted into law.  Billy Sunday declares:

The reign of tears is over.  The slums will soon be only a memory.  We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs.  Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and children will laugh.  Hell will be forever for rent.

1919, popular actor Wallace Reid suffered a serious leg injury.  In order to finish filming the scenes he was to be in for the film In the Valley of the Giants, the studio would have their doctor provide Reid morphine.  From that point on, without having time set aside to allow him to recuperate, Reid would become addicted to morphine.

September 28, 1920 – Eddie Cicotte and Joe Jackson confess to participated in the fixing of the 1919 World Series by the Black Sox. The scandal causes the creation of the position of ‘Commissioner’ to serve as the public face of reform. The film industry would learn from this example as it formed the Motion Picture Producer Distributors of America (MPPDA).  Similar scandals were arising within Hollywood, with accounts of celebrities having booze parties and prostitutes, having plenty of money and connections to live a party lifestyle when they weren’t working.  Meanwhile church leaders and women’s organizations would continue to rally the public against Hollywood.

1918, Charlie Chaplin (age 29) abruptly marries 16-year-old Mildred Harris. They divorced two years later, causing quite a public stir.  In 1922, he married Lolita McMurry, also 16 (making the name almost ironically appropriate). They would divorce in 1927 after a sensational divorce case.  During this sensational divorce, women’s clubs successfully urged some states to bar the showing of Chaplin pictures.

Starting in the 1920s, Hollywood allowed mandated abortions on their actresses. Studios determined whether or not a pregnant actress to should keep the baby (taking into account demand for her star presence in their upcoming films).  Joan Crawford, Jeanette MacDonald, Tallulah Bankhead, and Bette Davis had abortions for the sake of their careers in motion pictures.  Studios even pressured (forcefully) some actresses, such as Jean Harlow and Judy Garland (who became pregnant in 1941 at age 19) were forced to have abortions, sometimes with their parents contributing towards pressuring them to having an abortion (that includes the mother, particularly in Garland’s case).

August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment (women’s suffrage) was adopted into law.  Politicians began courting the new block of potential voters.

September 5, 1920 – Model and actress Olive Thomas accidentally ingests mercury bichloride and kills herself. The bichloride had been prescribed to her husband, Jack Pickford to treat his chronic syphilis.  The press ran wild with the incident, some accusing Pickford of murder, others declaring Thomas committing suicide after her husband forced her to participate in drug-induced orgies, among other wild theories. This became one of the first big scandals that would rock Hollywood.

Thanksgiving 1920, a gang of around 8 young men would drug and sexually assault 2 teenage girls in San Francisco.  This incident would make headlines, and be perpetuated when more women came forward with similar rape charges (referring to separate but similar incidents).  75 women’s clubs would have their representatives attend a meeting on December 13, 1920, and form the Women’s Vigilance Committee (WVC).  Their goal: to curb vice, and support female victims, witnesses, and family members at trials.

March 1921, the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry (established in 1916) would issue “Thirteen Points” that the movie industry was to avoid for the sake of avoiding promotion of immoral conduct, in order to appease the ever-growing protests of religious/womens organizations.  This ultimately didn’t work, as many studios flat-out ignored the existence of the points.

The Catalyst

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle would begin his rise to fame in 1913.  He was a big name alongside that of Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton, even working with both of them on separate occasions (and was close friends with Keaton).  A comedian who’s role was largely slapstick humor, and taking the blunt of most jokes (partly because his on-screen character deserved it at times).  However, September 5, 1921, Labor Day, that day marked an incident that would not only change his life forever, but also drastically accelerate the controversy of the motion picture industry (let alone Hollywood), and increase the pressure from both women and religious organizations.  It was a night of partying at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco for Arbuckle and company. A party with plenty of booze, which was illegal at the time, though virtually all major Hollywood stars did this.

Arbuckle would spend a portion of the evening alone in a room with another aspiring film actress Virginia Rappe, a woman who used to be a fashion model, advocated for women to seek non-traditional forms of employment, became a clothing designer, all before she reached the age of 25 (though she would lie about her age during her film career, claiming to be younger than she was).  After they spent a portion of the evening together at the party, she would spend the next two days in physical pain before being admitted to an asylum for treatment.  (It was common for actors to get medically treated anywhere but hospitals to keep things on the down-low, especially since actors were known within the industry to be drug users and alcoholics, which could cause medical problems the industry didn’t want to be made public.)  She would die September 9, 1921, 4 days after the event at the hotel.  William Arbuckle would be accused of rape and manslaughter, be arrested, and tried at the courts.

From there, the controversy would explode.  This event would be the catalyst women and religious organizations had been praying for to ignite their war on film, and turn the war in their favor on what they considered an immoral practice that needed to be reigned in and suppressed.  It would also be the catalyst that would cause the government to get even more involved in the industry, outside of pro-war propaganda films (which was no longer relevant since the Great War’s end in 1918).  And the controversy would be covered by the papers, many of which were controlled by William Randolph Hearst.  The papers would largely smear and ravage Arbuckle’s image, while portraying Rappe as an innocent angel.  And this wasn’t limited to just America.  This also made international headlines, as Arbuckle and his films were also popular in foreign markets.

The woman who accused Arbuckle of raping and ultimately murdering Virginia Rappe.  Delmont wouldn’t ever be on the witness stand during the trial, due to the prosecution determining she wasn’t a reliable witness, considering her history of blackmailing men in the past.

A former friend and director Arbuckle worked with, Henry Lehrman (who was also former domestic partner of Rappe), would speak out against Arbuckle.

Would I kill Arbuckle?  Yes.  I feel just as any other man with red blood in his veins.  I will not deny that I have said I would kill him if we were to meet.  I hope the law will punish him and that he will receive full justice for the crime.

— Merrit, p.118

District Attorney Matthew Brady, the prosecutor on the case, worked with the WVC to rally against Arbuckle, hoping their influence and his association with them, combined with the potential of securing a guilty verdict, would ensure his maintained position as District Attorney when the next election took place.

Religious organizations and preachers would also speak out against Arbuckle.

He has assaulted public decency and morality.  He has betrayed the thousands of little children who laughed at his antics.  He has defied chastity and mocked virtue.

— Evangelist Robert Shuler [Merrit, p.165]

The only exceptional priest who spoke in Arbuckle’s favor would be the Protestant preacher who spoke out against alcohol, Billy Sunday.

I feel sorry for ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and do not see how any court in the land could convict the fallen idol for murder or manslaughter.  […]  The girl died, but I believe her death was caused by an accident and not by Roscoe Arbuckle.

[Merrit, p.165]

Theaters across the nation would pull and ban all Fatty films to avoid controversy.

September 14, 1921, the Los Angeles city council held a meeting to discuss increasing film regulation.  Protestant ministers spoke in favor of regulation and censorship.  The president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, William Desmond Taylor, would speak out against such regulation.  He would make a statement titled “The Nonsense of Censorship.”

Censorship of motion pictures is a menace to the very principles of the Constitution of these United States of America.

–[Merritt, p.275]

November 14, 1921 – December 4, 1921, the first trial of Roscoe Arbuckle takes place, with 5 women and 7 men on the jury.  The WVC (the president of the club at the time was Dr. Mariana Bertola) sided heavily with the prosecution.  The jury (which had their names and addresses released in the papers) voted 10-2 not guilty.  It was a hung jury, where one of the women jurors, Helen Hubbard, became internationally famous as the “lone holdout.”  She was too stubborn in her refusal to acknowledge some of the facts of the case.  She would make a statement post-trial, referring to her time on the jury:

There is no place for the woman on the jury.  […]  Any woman is a fool to even get on one if she can possibly get out of serving.  I’d rather die than go through it again.  The general attitude and language of the men is offensive to a woman.

— [Merrit, p.225]

It is worth noting that at this time, it was still a bit controversial for women to be serving on the jury.  This had been legalized in California in 1911, and still remained questionable that women could be considered fair and impartial jurors.  During this Arbuckle trial, the Chicago Tribune would state:

It is a fair presumption that the cause of exact justice was injured by the presence of the women on the Arbuckle jury.  A woman might have to overcome her aversion for a man charged with immorality before she could get anywhere near the issue of whether he was guilty of manslaughter.

— [Merrit, p.225]

The WVC, of course, praised Hubbard’s stance.  Nothing much was said of the other 4 women who voted not-guilty along with the other 6 men.

January 11, 1922, the second trial begins.  This time the jury would consist of 11 men and one woman.

This photo is faked by the way.  And was used in the papers.

It’s not prison I’m afraid of.  It’s not the loss of fame or fortune.  It is the loss of regard; the loss of affection, the fact that the kids may think I am guilty that hurts me…. Guilty?  The law says a man is not guilty until he is proven so.  But, my friend, let a man once be arrested and charged with a crime; let his name go broadcast in those first, cruel stories, regardless of fact, and he is branded guilty…. I have suffered.

— Roscoe Arbuckle [Merrit, p.244]

Meanwhile…

January 14, 1922 – William Hays resigns his cabinet post as the Postmaster General to become the President of the newly formed Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA).  His annual salary would be $100,000, an increase from his postmaster general annual salary of $12,000, and even higher than the president of the United State’s $75,000 annual salary.  He would stay on as postmaster general until March 4.

February 2, 1922 – The director William Desmond Taylor, the director who spoke out against censorship, is found murdered. The murder, unsolved to this day, unraveled careers of several Hollywood stars and further damaged Hollywood’s reputation.  Actresses revealed to be addicted to cocaine, underage girls alleged to have sexual relations with the deceased director, among other various acts of prostitution, drug dealing, and prohibition gangsters.  Taylor’s death exposed more than just the incidents he was involved in.  It exposed the actions of others within Hollywood.

This would cause the papers to refocus their attention on Hollywood in general, bringing back up accusations of the depravity and danger within Hollywood.  This would, in turn, increase calls for film censorship.  There would also be a movement among Hollywood critics who would espouse nativism and anti-Semitism, since most of the major studio heads were immigrants, all of whom were Jewish.

The American public is ardent in its hero worship and quite as ruthless in destroying its idols in any walk of life.  It elevates a man more quickly than any nation in the world, and casts him down more quickly–quite often on surmise or a mere hunch.  It is the general inclination, when trouble happens to strike in film circles, for the thoughtless to whisper, malign and gossip and to speak with that mock sagacity of the times of “the inside dope”[…]

[…]

The man and the woman who thus accepts as worthy of esteem this filmland neighbor should do himself or herself the moral honor of refusing to accept tattle and shoulder shrugs in place of fact–as he undoubtedly would in the case of his respected physical neighbor.

–Statement attributed to Arbuckle [Merritt, p.255]

Hollywood wouldn’t be in much of a position to defend itself, since there were other celebrity controversies already brewing, if not already exposed in the papers (such as aforementioned Chaplin marriage and extra-marital affairs controversy, and Olive Thomas’ accidental drug overdose).  They needed a sacrificial lamb to keep the mobs at bay.  Arbuckle, the one of their biggest stars that currently had the biggest spotlight shined on him due to the controversy and the coverage in the papers, would be their prime candidate, regardless of his innocence or guilt.

Fat Chance

February 3, 1922, the second trial ends, in a 10-2 hung jury vote of guilty, with only the lone woman juror, and another male juror, voting not guilty.  The defense was overconfident in this trial.

The public is tired of seeing some morally rotten but highly paid actor or actress glorified and held up as an idol.  The public is tired of having sex flung in their faces.  People who live decent lives, the mothers and fathers with families that they are trying to raise to be upright and decent, are tired of seeing film after film picturing infidelity and red love.  They are tired of seeing the other man as a permanent fixture in the home–according to the movies.  They are giving the producers their chance to reform from within.  If they don’t, public opinion won’t do any reforming at all.  It will simply annihilate the motion picture industry altogether, just as it did the saloon.

— District Attorney Matthew Brady [Merritt, p.278]

March 13, 1922, third trial began.  This time, there would be 8 men and 4 women on the jury.  April 12, 1922, they would all reach a verdict of not guilty.  The 12 jurors would make a statement following the acquittal.

Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle.  We feel that a great injustice has been done him.  We feel aslo that it was only our plain duty to give him this exoneration, under the evidence, for there was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of this crime.  […]  The happening at the hotel was an unfortunate affair for which Arbuckle, so the evidence shows, was in no way responsible.  We wish him success, and hope that the American people will take the judgement of fourteen men and women who have sat listening for thirty-one days to the evidence, that Roscoe Arbuckle is entirely innocent and free from all blame.

–[Merritt, p.268]

Arbuckle would also make a statement.

For this vindication I am truly grateful to God and my fellow men and women.  My life has been devoted to the production of clean pictures for the happiness of children.  I shall try to enlarge my field of usefulness so that my art shall have a wider service.  It is the duty of all men to use the lessons that have been given them by experience and misfortune for the benefit of all–to make themselves more useful to humanity.  This I shall do.  I can only repay the trust, confidence and loyalty bestowed upon me during my trouble by millions of men and women throughout the world by rendering service in justification of their faith.

–[Merritt, p.269]

Arbuckle was broke after the trials.  Thanks to his celebrity habit of reckless spending, his attorney fees, and the fine to be payed for unlawful possession of alcohol, he was in dire need of finances.  Finances he hoped to recoup with ease once he got back to working in movies again.

April 18, 1922 – Will Hays forbids Roscoe Arbuckle from ever working in Hollywood again.  However, it would not be Hays who acted alone on this.  According to Hays’ memoirs, Joseph Schenck and Adolph Zukor came to him after the third Arbuckle trial and demanded Hays and the MPPDA be the ones to publicly blacklist Arbuckle, while keeping their names (and thus Paramount Pictures) from being associated with the blacklisting.  In turn, it would give credit to the MPPDA for coming out swinging, getting Hollywood to clean up its act, an act publicized (and at times blown out of proportion) by the papers, and the Protestants, among other organizations.  Arbuckle’s films continued to be banned across the country (as they had been since prior to the first trial).

“Fatty” Arbuckle was a movie “goat.”  While he escaped conviction in court he was crucified by public sentiment which demanded that somebody be made to pay for the loose lives of too many of the movie stars.  It was just Arbuckle;s misfortune that the choice fell upon him.  It might have been anyone of a number of others no better than he.  A little more than usual vulgarity and an accident directed selection of Arbuckle.  So he is paying for it all.

–Editorial in a Wisconsin newspaper, November 22, 1922 [Merritt, p.289]

Senator Henry Lee Miles would denounce Arbuckle while on the floor of the US Senate, and further state:

At Hollywood, California, is a colony of these people, where debauchery, riotous living, drunkenness, ribaldry, dissipation, free love, seem to be conspicuous.

–[Merritt, p.288]

The California Congress of Women and Parents supported the banning of his films, as did the San Francisco Federation of Women’s Clubs.  The general public, with the aided influence of women’s and religious organizations, plus gossip articles in the papers, was still generally against Arbuckle and in support of keeping his films suppressed.  In addition, the public grew even more curious as to the (secret) lives of Hollywood and the celebrities they (once) admired.

After the Laughter Dies

May 1922 – The Sins of Hollywood: An Expose of Movie Vice is published by an anonymous author, later identified as Ed Roberts (former editor at Photoplay).

To the boys and girls of the land these mock heroes and heroines have been pictured and painted, for box office purposes, as the living symbols of all the virtues–

An avalanche of propaganda by screen and press has imbued them with every ennobling trait.

Privately they have lived, and are still living, lives of wild debauchery.

[…]

Unfaithful and cruelly indifferent to the worship of the youth of the land, they have led or are leading such lives as may, any day, precipitate yet another nation-wide scandal and again shatter the ideals, the dreams, the castles, the faith of our boys and girls!

It is for these reasons that the SINS OF HOLLYWOOD are given to the public–

That a great medium of national expression may be purified–taken from the hands of those who have misused it–that the childish faith of our boys and girls may again be made sacred!

[…]

If the screen is to be “cleaned up,” the sores must be cut open–the puss and corruption removed–This always hurts!  But it is the only known way!

During the 1920s, several women would become major Hollywood stars.  Colleen Moore’s fame would arrive in the early 1920s, being known as one of the first flapper girls (meaning a 1920s woman who showed disdain for conventional dress and behavior).  Then there was Clara Bow, who would become the first natural sex symbol (and would be known within Hollywood to freely sleep around with several men).

Many of these stars, however, would not have a good end to their stardom.

May 27, 1922 – Actress Audrey Munson attempts suicide in Mexico, New York, by attempting to swallow a solution of bi-chloride, the same substance that killed Olive Thomas. Unlike Thomas, she would survive the attempt, but became mentally unstable, and would spent the next 65 years in a mental institute until the day she died.

December 20, 1922, Hays released a statement referring to Roscoe Arbuckle:

In our effort to develop a complete co-operation and confidence within the industry, I hope we can start this New Year with no yesterdays.  “Live and let live” is not enough; we will try to live and help live.

–[Merritt, p.291]

While this was taken to mean it was ok for studios to screen “Fatty” films again, and employ Arbuckle, it was later revealed in Hays’ memoirs that Hays didn’t intend for Arbuckle to work in movies again so much as be given the opportunity for employment elsewhere, so that he could at least make a living; in the spirit of fair-play and charity.  Ultimately, the statement ended up ringing hollow in the industry and with the public.  Women’s and various Motion Picture organizations, religious groups, and teachers groups, all still demanded Arbuckle films not be shown.

Arbuckle would release a statement, asking for “the rights of an American citizen,” to be treated fairly and not be unjustly/maliciously be attacked by others who are “refusing to abide by the established law of the land.”  He would even quote scripture, and reference Jesus and his acts of forgiveness.  His statement proved futile in improving his position.  Even theater producers offered Paramount sums of money in order to purchase Arbuckle films that hadn’t been exhibited.  Paramount would refuse.  Arbuckle’s career was virtually finished.

Thus, as author Greg Merrit states, “It was America’s first great battle in a culture war.”

January 1922 – Actor Wallace Reid’s morphine addiction eventually spiraled out of control.  He would eventually be admitted to a sanitarium after a mental breakdown.  Will Hays would visit him at the sanitarium December 19, 1922, and would later proclaim that despite his state, Wallace was recovering.  Wallace would later die in the sanitarium on January 18, 1923, a fate similar to the one Audrey Munson would face. His widow produced a movie about the dangers of morphine addiction called Human Wreckage (1923) which toured the country.  The film is lost, unable to be viewed today.

The board of motion picture censors of Portland [Oregon] today ordered the arrest of Andrew Saso, manager of a theater, on the ground that he had shown a motion-picture featuring Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle.  Films featuring Arbuckle have been banned by city ordinance since October 15, 1924.

— Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1932 [Merrit, p.359]

 

March 3, 1931, The Star Spangled Banner is made the national anthem via congressional resolution, signed by president Herbert Hoover.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

 

June 29, 1933, Roscoe Arbuckle, who was on the verge of a potential acting come-back, dies in his sleep of a heart attack.  Some papers would declare that he literally died of a broken heart.

Here is the sad spectacle of a man being punished by so-called democracy!  A man who was acquitted of a trumped-up charge by three American juries!  But our militant good people arose to crucify, to persecute an innocent man!  They dragged him down from the topmost pinnacle of being the clean and funny comedian that he was and made of him the world’s most tragic figure!

— Rupert Hughes, making a speech towards Roscoe Arbuckle at a 1925 Hollywood banquet [Merrit, p.307]

Epilogue

Regarding Virginia Rappe, and whether or not Arbuckle actually caused her death by raping her, it seems unlikely.  There really isn’t any evidence that indicates he did rape her.  At worst, he might have had consensual sex with her, but even that is a bit far-fetched, at least from what I’ve concluded from my research.  As to what caused Rappe’s health deterioration during and after the party, there are a number of things that could’ve contributed.  One, years of alcohol consumption weakening her bladder.  Two, the fact that she has had at least two abortions in the past (part of that whole Hollywood mandate thing that began roughly in the 20s), and one abortion could’ve caused a small tear to her bladder that grew overtime.  Plus the doctors did anything but treat her symptoms correctly for at least the first two days after they were shown.

In any case, there is at the very least a reasonable doubt as to Arbuckle’s guilt.  Sure he led the celebrity lifestyle, become a higher class than most American workers, and spent in excess for mansions, vehicles, booze, parties, etc (as many top-paid celebrities back then did, and still do today).  But that doesn’t excuse the wrongful condemnation by women’s rights organizations anyway (among others).  And the parallel’s to today’s #MeToo movement are uncanny.

It only seems ironically fitting what events would take place just before Arbuckle’s death.

July 13, 1923 – The Hollywoodland sign is erected.

September 18, 1932, Millicent Lilian ‘Peg’ Entwhistle, known for being a stage actress, was on a downward spiral career-wise.  She would hike to the Hollywoodland sign, climb a ladder on the “H,” and threw herself down the mountain.  Her suicide note would read, “I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain.”  Soon after, the one and only film she ever appeared in, Thirteen Women, would premiere November 11.  It would be neither a critical or commercial success.  When it was re-released in 1935 during the Hays Code era, 14 minutes would be cut from the film.

In order to promote reform, it is first necessary to show the wages of sin.

–Cecil B. Demille

Sources

Merrit, Greg.  2013.  Room {1219} The Life of Fatty Arbuckle, The Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe, And The Scandal That Changed Hollywood.  Chicago Press Review Incorporated.  Chicago, Illinois.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Pickford

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peg_Entwistle

 

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