100 Years Ago Today: Henry Lehrman’s 1,000 tiger lilies for Virginia Rappe (and a fur for his Follies girl), September 17, 1921

On Saturday morning, September 17, 1921, Arbuckle woke once more inside cell no. 12 of San Francisco’s Hall of Justice, having been denied bail the day before. A murder charge still hung over his head as he sat on the edge of his cot. It would be determined over the coming days at a preliminary investigation in a special Police Court session the known as the “Women’s Court,” which limited the intimidating number and often rude behavior of male spectators.

Meanwhile, on that same morning, in Los Angeles’ Central Station, a reporter witnessed the lid removed from the crate in which Rappe’s silver coffin had been shipped. But what he saw first was the striking orange blanket of a thousand tiger lilies.

The casket of Virginia Rappe and the tiger lily blanket (American Florist)

The flowers had been ordered by Rappe’s putative fiancé, Henry Lehrman, from San Francisco’s master florist, Albert O. Stein at the cost of $150 (over $2,200 adjusted for inflation).[1] The choice of such flowers had been deliberate—and, perhaps, at the suggestion of Mr. Stein whose work in floral arrangements for funerals, public events, table decorations, altar pieces, chuppahs for Jewish weddings, and the like made him the go-to for making the best impression.

As Lehrman said to the press more than once already, Virginia Rappe had fought off Arbuckle “like a tiger.”

Two weeks later, in early October, Lehrman still neglected to pay the $150 invoice. But his checkbook was open for a mink coat, which he gave to his new girlfriend, a Ziegfeld Follies girl and aspiring actress, Jocelyn Leigh, who, like Rappe, was another Chicago native.

The check for $75 bounced, as Miss Leigh learned when she returned to the furrier to buy some accessories on credit.

Albert O. Stein was still trying to collect his fee on the day Arbuckle was acquitted in April 1922.

Jocelyn Leigh (Tattler, May 1922)

[1] See “Arbuckle Fate Up to Jury, Belief,” San Francisco Chronicle, 12 April 1922, 3.

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