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Roscoe Arbuckle reading the latest issue of La Vie Parisienne, dated 17 January 1920. The front cover illustrations shows an older male skater pulling a young female into a hole in the ice while tearing off her clothes. The rear cover depicts two streetwalkers having a conversation in which one asks the other if she believes in the end of the world (monde). The other responds how could she know since they are both of the demimonde. (Library of Congress)

“McNab, Victorian, Flounders”—Bart Haley on the first day of jury deliberations, December 2, 1921

A few weeks ago, we reprinted one of Bart Haley’s reports from the first Arbuckle trial, which originally ran a century ago in the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger. Haley’s pieces are more editorials than they are strict reportage and here he discusses the role of the woman jurors in the trial and the problem they … Continue reading “McNab, Victorian, Flounders”—Bart Haley on the first day of jury deliberations, December 2, 1921

First Arbuckle trial: Milton U’Ren’s closing argument, December 2, 1921

Milton U’Ren grinned, his teeth crooked and sharp in the long, lean face. —Ace Adkins, Devil’s Garden The hiatus in our blog entries is, of course, due to the holidays. But we are drafting one of the key chapters in the book, with the working title “Spontaneous Rupture of the Bladder.” What follows is the … Continue reading First Arbuckle trial: Milton U’Ren’s closing argument, December 2, 1921

Bart Haley: Journalism the way it was at the first Arbuckle trial

Bart Haley covered the first Arbuckle trial for Philadelphia’s Evening Public Ledger, one of the few newspapers in the east to assign its own reporter. His pieces delved into the personalities of the men and women who figured in the trial. The following piece captures the atmosphere of the San Francisco courtroom as the trial … Continue reading Bart Haley: Journalism the way it was at the first Arbuckle trial

Freda Blum’s portraits and poignancies from the Arbuckle trial

Freda Blum’s articles about the personalities of the Arbuckle case first appeared in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin, where she was the film reviewer. Unfortunately, this newspaper isn’t digitized or easily accessible at this writing. But her work was syndicated through the Hearst newswire International News Service and appeared in many newspapers too small to … Continue reading Freda Blum’s portraits and poignancies from the Arbuckle trial

100 Years Ago Today: Irene Morgan, one of the sketchier defense witnesses, December 2, 1921

Roscoe Arbuckle’s personal lawyer, Milton Cohen, found a number of witnesses in Los Angeles County who could testify that Virginia Rappe routinely suffered fits of female hysteria. These bore a marked resemblance to how she was found in room 1219 of the St. Francis Hotel on Labor Day 1921. Among those witnesses was Irene Morgan. … Continue reading 100 Years Ago Today: Irene Morgan, one of the sketchier defense witnesses, December 2, 1921

Arbuckle’s testimony of November 28, 1921

On the morning Roscoe Arbuckle was to testify, it was rumored that an unidentified attorney threatened to quit the so-called “million-dollar defense” team. According to the Los Angeles Express, this was Milton Cohen, angered over the lead defense attorney, Gavin McNab, mulling the idea that it might be better not to have the defendant testify. … Continue reading Arbuckle’s testimony of November 28, 1921

What motivated DA Matthew Brady?

If one reads superannuated texts about the Arbuckle case, such as David Yallop’s The Day the Laughter Stopped (1976), Andy Edmonds’ Frame Up!: The Untold Story of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (1991), or Wolves at the Door: The Trials of Fatty Arbuckle (2010) by David Allen Kizer, and the like, the prosecutor Matthew Brady emerges as … Continue reading What motivated DA Matthew Brady?

The Arbuckle Trial begins: A theater review of the first week

While working on the corpus of our narrative, we have neglected to add some timely sidebars to this blog. So, we shall observe the end of the first week of the first Arbuckle trial with this mock theater review by George Warren, a theater critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Unlike the Examiner and the … Continue reading The Arbuckle Trial begins: A theater review of the first week

100 Years Ago This Week: November 14–18, 1921

One hundred years ago Roscoe Arbuckle’s trial for manslaughter in the death of Virginia Rappe began. Most of that first week was taken up by jury selection. Although Arbuckle’s chief defense lawyer, Gavin McNab was reportedly against including women on the jury, he and prosecutor Matthew Brady settled on five women and eight men, including … Continue reading 100 Years Ago This Week: November 14–18, 1921

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