The reportage for the third trial was not as detailed as the first trial. The legion of reporters had been cut back as public interest in the Arbuckle case waned. Oscar Fernbach of the San Francisco Examiner soldiered on though and noted some important turning points as the trial unfolded—mostly lost opportunities for the prosecution.
As we pointed out in yesterday’s blog post, District Attorney Matthew Brady’s star witness, Zey Prevost, had fled to New Orleans beyond the reach of his subpoena power. She and showgirl Alice Blake were in roughly the same place at the same time while at the Labor Day Party. Both women had entered room 1219 after Roscoe Arbuckle had exited while Virginia Rappe was lying semiconscious in one of the room’s beds. Blake had heard Rappe “accuse” a male of hurting her and that she felt like she was dying. Her earliest statements are hardly ambiguous. But whether her statements had been fine-tuned by her interrogators has to be scrutinized. Nevertheless, like her friend Zey Prevost, Blake was less than enthusiastic about testifying against the comedian and was almost declared a hostile witness during the second trial. Like others who attended the party, Blake was in the “in crowd” and probably felt some kindred loyalty to the group. As an entertainer she would have also been aware of the possible impact her cooperation with the prosecution could have on her career.
Until March 23, 1922, Alice Blake had maintained her composure but her reluctance to testify was often apparent in the way she spoke almost in a whisper and, by degrees, ceased remembering details of what happened on Labor Day 1921—with the exception of being one of Rappe’s first responders.
Girl Checks State Attack upon “Fatty” Alice Blake Denies She Heard Virginia Rappe Say “He Killed Me”; Breaks Under Fire
Oscar H. Fernbach, San Francisco Examiner, 24 March 1922
With every inch of the battle ground hotly contested, the fight being waged in Judge Louderback’s court to establish Roscoe Arbuckle’s guilt or innocence of the manslaughter of Virginia Rappe proceeded yesterday.
Tears and temper, accusations and recriminations, insults and apologies all contributed to the sensational features of the trial.
Alice Blake, star witness for the prosecution, broke down under the grilling cross-examination of Gavin McNab, became hysterical, and was led weeping from the witness stand, while an enforced recess was taken to give her time to compose herself. She could not stand the strain of McNab’s attempt to expose what he termed “fabricated testimony, produced under duress,” his accusations being directed more against the district attorney’s office than against the girl on the stand.
It was all about Alice Blake’s direct testimony to the effect that she had heard Virginia Rappe exclaim as she lay in agony upon the bed in Arbuckle’s room: “I am dying; he hurt me.” By producing the original statement, which the witness had given to the police on the day following the death of Virginia Rappe [September 10, 1921], McNab established the fact that Alice Blake at the time had not included the words, “He hurt me,” and the attorney proceeded to insinuate that District Attorney Brady and his assistants had subsequently tried to compel the witness to testify as she did. The girl explained yesterday [March 22, 1922] that when she was questioned in Brady’s office she was told that Zey Prevost had declared that Virginia Rappe had used the words, “He killed me,” and had informed Brady and [Assistant District Attorney] U’Ren that Alice Blake had heard her so exclaim.
“I told them I did not hear her say so,” was the emphatic testimony of the witness yesterday. And she went on to say that at the time she had expressed the belief that Virginia Rappe, if anything, might have said, “He hurt me.”
[Assistant District Attorney] Leo Friedman, who conducted the direct examination, had a hard time with his witness. The value of her statements to the prosecution seemed to have become inversely proportional to the number of trials to which Arbuckle is being subjected. She reached a strage yesterday where she “could not remember.” In vain did Friedman show her the record of her testimony in the police court and at two preceding trials. It merely refreshed her memory to the extent that she could recollect nothing.
On cross-examination, however, Alice Blake made a startling announcement. She confessed that she had left the sitting room of Arbuckle’s suite before either Virginia Rappe or Arbuckle had gone into the bedroom, and did not actually see either of them enter that apartment. This was news—and McNab made the most of it.
True, the witness admitted that before she left to enter the third room  of the suite, she had seen both the comedian and the actress walking toward the door of the bedroom . But she [Blake] further declared that she had been absent less than fifteen minutes when, upon her return to the sitting room , she found Mrs. Delmont knocking on the bedroom door and calling to Arbuckle to open it. This testimony placed the comedian and Virginia Rappe alone in the bedroom for fall less period of time than hitherto had been inferred from all the testimony.
The story of how Virginia Rappe was found in agony in Arbuckle’s rooms, and the ministrations that were given her, was repeated in detail by Alice Blake. McNab, in turn, sought to convince the jury that the actress had been injured while being given a cold bath, or while being held upside down by Fred Fishback and that her cry, “He hurt me,” referred to the latter and not to Arbuckle. [. . .]
 In reality, her initial statement indicates that she left room 1220 for room 1221—Lowell Sherman’s bedroom—as Rappe and Arbuckle entered room 1219. Blake didn’t disclose whether Sherman accompanied her. But this can be inferred from Prevost’s early statements and testimony, where she, Prevost, is alone in room 1220 with Maude Delmont. Here Blake mentions that fifteen minutes passed before she saw and heard Delmont kicking the door and demanding that she be allowed to speak to Rappe. While this seems to fit the defense’s assertion that Arbuckle and Rappe were alone for less than ten minutes, as Fernbach suggests here, it doesn’t. Blake omits here that she returned to room 1221. She was there when Arbuckle finally opened the door of room 1219 and didn’t see him exit. Keeping up with these details and nuances is not only difficult for authors and readers. Imagine what it was like for the prosecutors in 1921 and ’22!
Haley’s pieces are more editorial than strict reportage and here he discusses the role of the woman jurors in the trial and the problem they presented for Arbuckle’s lead attorney, Gavin McNab.
Ultimately, the first Arbuckle trial ended in a hung jury when one woman, Helen Meany Hubbard, refusing to cast a ballot for acquittal. Over and over again she voted to convict Arbuckle of manslaughter in deliberations that dragged from December 2 to December 4, 1921. She might have been alone had not a fellow juror, Thomas Kilkenny, eventually joined her in the vote to convict.
Haley is prescient in regard to the kind of modern juror McNab faced. Mrs. Hubbard, the wife of a lawyer, attributed her decision to the prosecution’s logical presentation of the circumstantial evidence, especially the fingerprints that indicated a struggle between Arbuckle and Rappe. Hubbard, too, found Arbuckle’s “Good Samaritan” testimony to be false. But it was Gavin McNab’s courtroom performance that she found particularly offensive. (For more on Hubbard, we suggest reading Joan Myer’s “Virginia Rappe & the Search for the Missing Juror.”)
Arbuckle Jury Split; Is Locked Up Over Night
Two of Women Jurors Reported Holding Out for Conviction of Comedian Acquittal May come When Court Meets Today Fatty and Friends Worried by Delay—Had Hoped for Speedy Liberty His Wife Breaks Down Prosecutor Arranges to Guard Actor from Violence in Case He Is Freed
By Bart Haley
San Francisco, Dec. 3.—The jury before which Fatty Arbuckle has been on trial for manslaughter is split and temporarily deadlocked.
Two of the five women members were reported this morning to have been holding out for the conviction. After seven hours of deliberation and seven ballots, the foreman reported at 11:10 last night that no agreement had been reached.
The court had remained in special session. The jury was locked up with orders to go to work again today. The court will reconvene at 10 o’clock. Fatty and his counsel and his friends, who had been hoping and laboring for an immediate and spontaneous acquittal, were shocked.
(It will be 1 o’clock in Philadelphia when the court meets today.)
The big comedian, whose troubles, the first real ones of his life, began with the Labor Day gin-and-orange juice party which Virginia Rappe was carried with mortal injuries, was badly shaken for the news from the jury room. For hours he had waited in an agony of anxiety which he could not quite conceal.
The building was invaded by a curious mob. Judge Louderback had informed the jury that he would wait until 11 0’clock. This decision followed the failure of the jury to reach a verdict in two hours of wrangling that preceded the dinner hour. At 11 o’clock there was no sign of life from the jury room. A deputy sheriff was sent to make inquiries. He returned with the news that a verdict had not been reached and that the jury wanted ten minutes of grace to try again. It tried again and failed.
Fatty stood up in the brilliantly lighted courtroom and reached wearily for his hat. Even the anti-Fattys felt a momemt of pity. Mrs. Arbuckle, who was sitting behind her husband, arose, sat down again, opened her handbag, got out her handkerchief and began to cry.
Only Gavin McNab, chief of Fatty’s counsel, appeared unmoved. The other lawyers looked dismal, but resigned.
“I’m not worried,” said Fatty, “it’ll be all right. But I wish they would hurry.”
There were good reasons why hurry seemed desirable. Doubts and wrangling and delays and the dim possibility of a permanent disagreement were not likely to help toward a calf-killing in the land of films or to make the way easy for the return from Elba, which, to Fatty, is almost as important as liberty itself.
A verdict of acquittal is expected today. Arbuckle, his sisters, his wife, his counsel and the friends who were with him when he went unhappily through the jammed corridors on the way to his hotel felt so sure of an acquittal on the first ballot that they were prepared to leave for Los Angeles this afternoon.
District Attorney Brady and his assistants were not in court last night. They left with the manner of men washing their hands of the whole business at the close of their final arguments and after a day of extremely bitter interchanges with the lawyers for the defense.
But Brady has provided a strong guard to protect the tragic funny man from cranks who have been sending him violent and threatening letters.
The ground over which the battle for Fatty’s liberty and rehabilitation has raged furiously and without rest since November 11 was strewn with strange wreckage last night. Mrs. B. Maud Delmont, who was the most conspicuous of the women guests at the fatal Labor Day party, was taken from her hotel last night and placed in jail under a bigamy charge registered by the authorities of Madera County. It was Mrs. Delmont who first accused Arbuckle of being the direct cause of Virginia’s injuries.
Irene Morgan, who was found poisoned in her hotel here on Thursday, returned, still very ill, to Los Angeles this morning. She had been brought into court as a witness for the defense. The police and private detectives, after working for twenty-four hours without sleep in an effort to find a man who was presumed to have poisoned Irene, quit the search in disgust.
They had sought high and low for a vehicle called, in the bright idiom of the police, “the poison taxicab”—a taxicab in which Miss Morgan said she rode just before a mysterious gentleman, “appearing much like one of District Attorney Brady’s detectives,” gave her deadly orange juice and poisoned candy. Physicians who were called in frantic haste to the Clift House [Hotel], where Irene was found, said last night that so far as they could determine, the young woman took a great overdose of headache powders, accidentally or otherwise.
The ante-mortem statement obtained by the physicians when they thought Irene was going to die glistens with the strange poetry of delirium. It is all about love and a noble past and proud ancestors in Sweden and a Duke from Spelice and the dead Virginia.
Mrs. Minnie Neighbours, of Los Angeles, another of the women who gave some of the most helpful evidence for the defense, is waiting here to answer formally to a perjury charge on Monday. District Attorney Brady caused Mrs. Neighbours’ arrest and said that her evidence was wholly false.
Fatty and his counsel have found time from all their other troubles to stand manfully by the refugees. Their doctors treated Miss Morgan. The lawyers will defend Mrs. Neighbours. Mrs. Delmont, who started all the trouble, will seemingly see the last of it. She will be left to shift for herself.
The mill of the trial ground on unhindered by these reports from the outside world or news of stragglers overcome by the wayside. The jury retired at 4:10 after Gavin McNab and Assistant District Attorney U’Ren finished their respective appeals. The courtroom and the corridors were packed and there was a mob in the street. McNab assailed District Attorney Brady by name and the District Attorney assailed McNab.
“No innocent man,” said Mr. U’Ren, “would have kept still as Arbuckle did, until he was driven by the collapse of his counsel’s case to stand in this court and tell a story that is obviously untrue. Through perjury and hypocrisy, he is seeking his freedom.”
McNab again bitterly charged Brady with maintaining a system of organized terrorism in his office. When he was not addressing himself particularly to the women of the jury. McNab made masterly use of the material at his disposal. When he addressed himself to the women, he made it clear, perhaps for the first time, that equal rights of citizenship have created a new dilemma for lawyers.
Should you appeal to the minds or to the emotions of women in the jury box? Mr. McNab appealed proudly to their emotions, to their emotions only, and the experiment—which may become historic—didn’t terminate auspiciously.
Judge Louderback’s charge to the jury sounded almost like a recommendation for conviction. And the first rumors from the jury room indicated that all five women members desired ardently to send Mr. Arbuckle to jail. Stephen Hopkins, a thirteenth juror, who was held as an alternate until the deliberation of the jury began and then released, reflected the other side of the jury’s mind when he said he could see no reason for a conviction.
About the state of mind of the five women of the jury there were from the first differences of opinion as wide as the seas. They were among the first women who ever sat in judgment on a case of the sort which, involving spectacular crimes or spectacular misfortunes of one of their own sex, would normally be decided by the blundering and purely masculine code known in courts as the unwritten law.
The jury had a wide, an almost limitless, latitude for the exercise of its sympathies or its prejudices. Neither the prosecution nor the defense pleaded a clear case. To an impartial eye it was plain that the State’s direct evidence was not sufficient to prove Fatty guilty, in a court or out of it. Neither did Mr. McNab and his associates demonstrate Fatty’s innocence. Only Fatty himself knows what went on in the room from which Virginia Rappe was carried to die.
When, after all the noise and clamor of the closing arguments was over, the lawyers admitted that they had felt, addressing the women of the jury, as if they were talking into a void or appealing to a granite wall. But the jury women toward the last were not merely inscrutable. They were more obviously bored and weary—weary of Fatty and the wrangling of McNab and Brady, of the doctors and the lingo of the clinics, of everybody in the courtroom, of the repeated loud references to gin and orange juice.
When at last the jury left the courtroom at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Fatty looked after them forlornly and his lawyers crowded about to make cheerful prophecies. Women, they told themselves and their client, were not fools about these things. Women could not be swayed by the befuddling sentimentalism that might cause men to do crazy things in cases like this. Women might be tender-hearted about all the rest of the world, but they were hard-boiled in relation to one another.
So the minutes passed. Fatty’s lawyers watched the clock anxiously and returned to the fear that was rending with them within. McNab, they were sure, had got to the jury. They felt that his address had been very moving. But it was not moving. Upon McNab it fell to initiate the long, long series of experiments which may have to be continued for years before lawyers of the present schools are able to talk effectually to mixed juries.
And upon the site of the Hall of Justice, lawyers of the future may yet erect in gratitude a monument in memory of Fatty’s chief of counsel and inscribe upon it: “On this spot Gavin McNab first demonstrated for posterity the manner in which a jury of the new age should not be addressed.”
McNab was Victorian. He begged the ladies of the jury to have no illusions. Yet he himself seemed full of them. McNab, the winner of a thousand great suits, the wise guide of a political party and mentor of a multitude of young lawyers, floundered when he sought to touch the consciousness of five average women and behaved like a mariner in uncharted waters at night. He began with Bethlehem and ended with “suffer the little children to come unto Me.”
He talked of the millions of children who had laughed at this most unfortunate man and dwelled long and tenderly upon the tradition of an unerring child’s instinct which he recommended as culminating proof of Fatty Arbuckle’s innocence and the cold brutality of the District Attorney’s office. McNab told of the need for a continuous reverence for all women.
At about the same moment, Irene Morgan in a mild delirium was telling them at the Clift Hotel to prepare for Duke of Spelice, who was coming to take her riding, and begging to be told where Virginia Rappe was. Mrs. Neighbours, another Arbuckle witness, was waiting to face a charge of perjury and Mrs. Maud Delmont, the third troubled woman in the case, was being taken to jail.
Fatty’s big car—someone said casually the other day it cost as much as a good-sized church—was waiting outside at the curb. It was not going to hang around the Hall of Justice a moment longer than was absolutely necessary. It was gassed and chauffeured for swift departure from this scene of trouble.
The jury had been out about twenty minutes when one of the Arbuckle counsel, who had passed a door that leads almost directly into the jury room, sat down among his associates and in almost inaudible whisper uttered one word:
Had McNab trusted too greatly to the woman of bright legend, to the woman of books written by sentimental men who make the unwritten law and not enough to the woman who votes? The thought may have occurred to some of the watchers.
It clearly did not occur to Fatty. He was not thinking. The blood was beating in his temples and upon his face fell the look of a man falling endlessly through space. There ensued a period of harrowing suspense until the jury disappeared stolidly to its hotel for dinner.
And the big car turned and rolled slowly down the street, but only to return at 8 o’clock. One salient had been lost. The battle waged for three weeks was not only for the Arbuckle of the present but for the Arbuckle of the future as well. A quick, unhesitating acquittal by the jury had been hoped for by the defense.
After the shock of the first disappointment, Fatty recovered and seemed to feel better. He loafed for a while in the corridor, when he returned, and smoked cigarettes, leaning comfortably against the wall.
“It’ll be all right,” said he. “I’m not a bit worried now, but I wish they’d hurry.”
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 final argument of the first trial given by one of Roscoe Arbuckle’s most dogged prosecutors, Assistant District Attorney Milton U’Ren. Arbuckle case narratives—with the exception of Greg Merritt’s—don’t give U’Ren his due as an important figure in the three Arbuckle trials. Typically, if there is a mention of him, he is demonized, albeit as a minor demon. While many writers attribute some personal animus for Arbuckle on the part of District Attorney Matthew Brady, it is evident in the transcripts that it was U’Ren who was most determined to see Arbuckle brought to heel.
This hostility was noted during the first week of the Arbuckle trial, when U’Ren routinely referred to Arbuckle as a has-been.
Having no real political aspirations or agenda, U’Ren likely saw Arbuckle as an avatar of the sins of the motion picture industry. U’Ren was a Progressive Republican who shared Theodore Roosevelt’s belief that an unhealthy body betrayed unhealthy behavior. (Roosevelt, as a boy, took to heart being diagnosed as “suffering from a handicap of riches.) Then there is also the possibility that U’Ren wanted to avenge Virginia Rappe—a task that could hardly be left to Maude Delmont, a woman he saw as just another debauchee. But, lastly, and more likely, U’Ren was the father of two young daughters, aged five and seven. That motivation also applied to two others who regarded Arbuckle as an uninhibited predator. Matthew Brady’s only child was a daughter and Captain of Detectives Duncan Matheson also had two daughters.
On December 1, 1921, Milton U’Ren’s fellow prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Leo Friedman, presented the first half of the prosecution’s closing argument. He was followed by Arbuckle’s lead defense attorney Gavin McNab, whose closing argument continued into the next day.
Otis M. Wiles of the Los Angeles Times thought “the dynamic and youthful prosecution attorney” had an effect on the jury. “For one hour and forty-six minutes,” Wiles wrote, “Friedman literally dragged Roscoe up and down before the jury of five women and seven men, nailed him to the cross of justice and pelted him with the defilements of his mental makeup.” Indeed, without using a rather new word for 1921, Friedman presented Arbuckle as a sociopath. But any “wounds” he delivered on the comedian, according to Wiles, “soon were alleviated by the healing power of McNab’s soothing syrup voice”, his “mellow Scotch accent,” and his “genial smile.”
A natural orator like fellow Democrat William Jennings Bryant, McNab could sway a jury with the force of his voice, figures of speech, and frequent allusions to American decency and the Bible. Most journalists at the trial sided with him and devoted more column space to his exposition.
Milton U’Ren’s was treated as footnote in most newspapers. We wanted to present as much of it as possible because the prosecution of Roscoe Arbuckle was very much U’Ren’s project and his contribution deserves to be restored. The following is taken from our work-in-progress. Without a transcript of the first Arbuckle trial—which exceeded 2,200 pages or 525,000 estimated words—we extracted quotations from the extant reportage, compared them, and harmonized them to render a narrative that comes close to the original language and order of each speaker’s address to the jury. This method is provisional and comes with caveats that all the quotations used are based on contemporary reporters’ notes. Their objective was to get the feel and intent of the original. So have we. But our objective is to pull as much together of the Arbuckle trial experience as possible.
Gouverneur Morris was a regular attendee at the Arbuckle trial and published his occasional vignettes. Like other journalists behind the rail of Judge Louderback’s courtroom, he had taken sides. Morris believed that Arbuckle had “spoken the truth” on the stand. Morris questioned nothing and took to task the person responsible for the comedian’s long ordeal. “[Frank] Dominguez,” he wrote, “lost his head, forgot that it was his client who was the million-dollar actor, assumed the role himself, ranted, mistook friends for enemies, antagonized everybody in sight and imposed absolute silence upon Arbuckle.”
Morris had good reason to take sides. He had just enjoyed a year of success as a scriptwriter and hoped to enjoy another, as well as the perquisites and status of the film colony in Los Angeles. No doubt, too, Morris represented the feelings of not only the press but many in the motion picture industry, that what happened to Virginia Rappe should be put behind them. Nothing would bring her back and there was barely enough of her on screen to remember, to fill a couple of matinees.
As to the closing arguments, in the last piece Morris posted from the Arbuckle trial, he hardly looked forward to them. “[W]e shall listen to Friedman and U’Ren saying absolutely nothing for four mortal hours.”
* * *
Gavin McNab would be a hard act to follow. Even fair-minded observers had to admit that Arbuckle’s lead attorney had the ladies and gentlemen of the jury, as well as the press, in the palm of his hand. That Matthew Brady had chosen not to speak was noticed. To his harsher critics, Brady’s not taking “the splendid opportunity to deliver an address to the jury,” wasn’t a result of exhaustion or burnout but that he was distancing himself from an impending acquittal.
All that remained was for the prosecution to go through the motions of a challenger falling behind on points and trying to avoid a knockout. Nevertheless, the “challenger” had the irrefutable fact that two people entered room 1219 and one came out.
Around 2:15 p.m., Assistant District Attorney Milton T. U’Ren rose to speak, picking up where the defense had left off—the image of Arbuckle’s adoring young fans—and with a voice that rivaled McNab’s at least in volume. Taking umbrage at McNab’s comparing Arbuckle to Christ and praise for simply not dropping Virginia Rappe on the way to room 1227, U’Ren responded:
What would the millions of little children say if they could have seen “Fatty,” the modern Belshazzar, dressed in pajamas, surrounded by his lords and ladies, drinking, dancing, and “kidding around?” What would these children say if they could have seen him putting the ice on the nude body of Miss Rappe as she writhed in pain? And what would their mothers say? The great Belshazzar saw the handwriting on the wall and quaked as it was interpreted. “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Your kingdom shall be divided among the Medes and Persians. That night Belshazzar was killed and the city overrun with enemies.
“The modern King Belshazzar has also seen handwriting on the wall,” U’Ren continued, alluding to the fingerprints on the hotel door in the same breath as he alluded to the ill-fated King of Babylon in the Book of Daniel. “The king is dead, and his kingdom is divided. He will never make the world laugh again. The king is dead. Thank God!”
Described like a cartoon character, Edward Doherty of the Chicago Tribune simply wrote a “little man, U’Ren, red faced, spectacles, bald—but he can shout.” But those familiar with Milton U’Ren from other trials knew that he, while not the orator, could sway juries “by talking quietly and reasoning logically.” And in a calmer voice, U’Ren explained that the defense had based its case upon “perjury and hypocrisy rather than upon facts. [. . .] Arbuckle’s story cannot withstand your scrutiny,” he said, “nor can it weaken the chain of circumstances against him.”
Arbuckle’s testimony was what the prosecution had been waiting for, having been limited to nothing but circumstantial evidence. In Arbuckle they surely believed they had the ultimate perjurer—one who had foolishly testified on his own behalf when he wasn’t required to do so. McNab wanted to credit Arbuckle for that. But he knew the day before he agreed to letting Arbuckle take the stand that it could work against him. U’Ren only needed to present it as a fabrication. Then, at best, only one juror was needed to keep the case alive and so move past this jury, which U’Ren, like Brady, like his other deputies, saw as tampered, an impression reinforced by the jurors nodding, smirking, winking, and their rapt attention to McNab this morning.
U’Ren declared that the defense had been opportunists, having no basis for their case and having proposed no theory for Rappe’s death until they heard the prosecution’s evidence. Here, of course, U’Ren exaggerated, given that Frank Dominguez had already introduced the argument that Rappe had a preexisting condition that made her bladder prone to spontaneous rupture.
“It was then” he said, “that they manufactured the story that Arbuckle told—manufactured it to meet the evidence presented by the prosecution.” McNab’s argument yesterday and today “was not a summary of the case but merely an attack upon the District Attorney.” Then U’Ren cannily reminded that Matthew Brady had been a reform candidate who had beaten Charles Fickert, a man the defense presumably would have preferred. “The present District Attorney is not Mr. McNab’s District Attorney,” U’Ren continued. “Attacking this public officer is merely throwing dust in the jury’s eyes.”
After excoriating Arbuckle for his silence and testimony, U’Ren refuted the defense’s clever dismissals of the fingerprints as the ghostly hands of “spooks” and turned the incessant ridicule of Professor Heinrich against them. U’Ren, too, should have been credited with the cleverest allusion of the day, besting his comparison of Arbuckle to Belshazzar.
Another writer fascinated by the science of criminology and fingerprinting in the late nineteenth century was Mark Twain. U’Ren returned to the prosecution table and picked up a copy of Twain’s 1894 satire of penny-dreadfuls, Puddin’head Wilson, to illustrate that such an admired American author, familiar to everyone, understood the reliability of fingerprints in criminal cases.
Sitting at the defense table, Nat Schmulowitz, a bibliophile of satirical works who prized the issues of Century Magazine in which Twain’s novel had been serialized, knew where U’Ren was headed. Twain’s hero, an eccentric small town Missouri lawyer, David Wilson, could be seen in the person of Professor Heinrich during the presentation of the fingerprints on the hotel door. Deemed soft in the head by fellow townsfolk for his then-obscure use of fingerprints in crime detection, Wilson solves a murder with by distinguishing between the fingerprints of twins. Comparing him to Heinrich, who had been made out to be an egghead, a fool, and an innocent fraud by the defense’s fingerprint experts and many in the press, was a master stroke by U’Ren and not too obscure for the jury. Twain’s novel was still popular twenty years later and had been adapted into a stage play and motion picture. The maxims of Puddin’head Wilson’s Calendar were and still are pearls of Twainian wisdom (e.g., “It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.”).
Schmulowitz objected to U’Ren’s attempt to read from the book but was overruled by Judge Louderback (a personal decision, perhaps, since the novel centers around the murder of a judge). The “offending” passage is unknown, but it was likely from the penultimate Chapter XXI, Doom, in which Wilson, much like Heinrich, describes the criminal act in a courtroom with white sheets of cardboard with pantographic enlargements of “bewildering maze of whorls or curves or loops,” a person’s “natal autograph.”
Just after three o’clock, U’Ren closed in a long speech, excoriating Arbuckle before the jury much as he had in the beginning of his argument.
He sat there surrounded by his lords and his ladies, this man who Mr. McNab says has made the children of America laugh. He appeared in his pajamas before this mixed audience, this world’s comedian, this Good Samaritan who Mr. McNab says was merely helping a sick girl. A Good Samaritan! I proclaim him a moral leper!
This man who made the world laugh—my God!—who made the world laugh. I wonder what the children and their mothers would have though could they have seen him as he placed the ice on this poor girl’s body. He may have made them laugh before, but thank God! He never will make the world laugh again!
Do your duty so that when you go home and you can look your fellow citizens in the face. Do your duty so that you may take your children to your breast with the full knowledge that they will be protected from this man and others like him. Do your duty so that this man and all the other Arbuckles in the world will know that the womanhood of American is not their plaything.
U’Ren ended his argument at 3:20 in the afternoon. Not long afterward, the trial entered its third phase as Judge Louderback instructed the jury on coming to a verdict.
 This passage is based on Gouverneur Morris, “‘Fatty’s’ Story Late but True, Thinks Morris,” Des Moines Tribune, 29 November 1921, 3; Gouverneur Morris, “Rebuttal Adds Little to Case against Fatty,” Des Moines Tribune, 1 December 1921, 17; ; James Gordon, “Minister Tells Highlights in ‘Fatty’ Case,” Los Angeles Evening Herald, 1 December 1921, 1; Oscar H. Fernbach, “Woman Votes Actor Guilty, Says Report,” San Francisco Examiner, 3 December 1921; Marjorie C. Driscoll, “Arbuckle Jury Retires at 4:10 to Deliberate,” San Francisco Chronicle, 3 December 1921, 7; ; Otis M. Wiles, “No Verdict Returned,” Los Angeles Times, 3 December 1921, I:1, I:2; and other corroborative sources.
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 a vindictive man trying to “get” Arbuckle.
According to the jacket blurb for the Kizer book, “Roscoe was a gentle soul caught in the middle of a political and media hurricane led by Matthew Brady, the district attorney who would stop at nothing to convict him with or without real evidence.”
Some authors imagine Brady to have been motivated by political ambitions, such as becoming the next Democratic governor of California. But he never ran for an office beyond district attorney, the position to which he had been elected in 1919. The ambition for which Brady probably became best known speaks more about his zeal for fairness than an interest in a political career. Thomas Mooney, a labor leader and socialist, had been convicted in a show trial, prosecuted by the district attorney who proceeded Brady, Charles Fickert, for the bombing of a parade in San Francisco that resulted in ten deaths. Mooney was serving a life sentence in San Quentin and Brady was among those who publicly (and unsuccessfully) lobbied for a new trial for him for nearly a decade. Mooney was eventually pardoned in 1937.
What is underappreciated is that Brady rarely examined or cross-examined witnesses. One could probably count as many times on one hand. He didn’t step into the spotlight the way his adversary, Arbuckle’s lawyer Gavin McNab, did. McNab had a dominant personality in the courtroom and in California politics, sometimes called the “dictator” of Democratic party politics. Brady, in contrast, seemed disassociated from the trial and to most observers his case seemed lost by the middle of the second week. However, as in The Art of War, Brady’s relative quiet now seems to have been calculated to allow the defense to destroy itself.
The following letter was published on the editorial page of the Fort Wayne Sentinel on November 26, 1921. It sheds light on Brady’s motivations. We see a number of possibilities here, from good (a “slave revolt,” an “I am Spartacus” moment before Hollywood got there) to bad (a veiled anti-Semitism that would appeal to Indiana readers in one of the hotspots of Ku Klux Klan membership).
Unbought and Unbribed
E. V. Emrick, of this city, is a long-time friend of Matthew Brady, district attorney of San Francisco, and recently wrote him endorsing his stand in the Arbuckle case and making inquiry as to certain matters in connection therewith. The following answer has been received:
Mr. Brady is a public officer and naturally speaks with the utmost conservatism concerning a case about which public interest centers so particularly. It means much, therefore, when he alludes to the powerful influences that have been brought to bear to swerve him from his duty, and reading between the lines one can imagine just what influences there were and picture the golden lure they held out. The conscienceless and rapacious producers of California have millions of dollars wrapped up in the Arbuckle films and if it were possible for them not only to clear Arbuckle but to whitewash him at the same time, it would be to their immense financial advantage to do so.
City and County of San Francisco District Attorney, Hall of Justice San Francisco, Oct. 21, 1921
E. V. Emrick, Citizens Trust Bldg. Fort Wayne, Ind.
Dear Mr. Emrick:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your courteous communication of recent date respecting the Arbuckle case. It is most gratifying to me to receive expressions of this kind form individuals of your standing in the community; a public official in the honest discharge of his duty needs moral support of this kind and I am extremely gratified at the sentiments expressed. Under the California law, if a death results from the commission of a felony the charge is murder. In the Arbuckle case it is alleged that either an attempt was made to commit rape or a rape was committed upon Virginia Rappe, as a result she died. Therefore, under the law, it is our contention that the crime committed was murder and not manslaughter. The duty of a police magistrate is to inquire into the facts of the case. If reasonable and probable cause appear, it is the duty of the police magistrate to hold the defendant to answer. It has been held that even where there exists the remotest possibility of a crime having been committed, it is the duty of the magistrate to hold. Evidence was introduced at the preliminary hearing of Roscoe Arbuckle showing reasonable and probable cause to believe him guilty of the crime of murder, as charged. At the conclusion of the hearing, the police magistrate reduced the charge from murder to manslaughter, upon which charge Arbuckle was held to answer to await trial before a jury in the superior court. As district attorney, I am convinced that more than ample evidence was introduced to warrant a holding upon the murder charge. I regret deeply that the police magistrate in his judgement reduced the charge to manslaughter. Has Arbuckle been held upon the murder charge, it would then have been within the province of the jury to have rendered a verdict of manslaughter, if in their judgement mitigating circumstances were present. Powerful influences have been brought to bear upon this office with the hope that I might be swayed from doing my full duty as district attorney, but you may rest assured that such efforts have proved of no avail, and every facility of my office will be employed in a most vigorous and earnest prosecution of this case. Again assuring you of my sincere appreciation of the moral support you have given me through the sentiments expressed in your letter, I am
Very truly yours, Matthew Brady District Attorney
It is hardly to be doubted but that Mr. Brady could have gathered in at least half a million dollars had he been willing to prostitute his high office and see to it that the evidence went as these sinister and malign corrupters of the public morals desired. It is fortunate, indeed, when the people have as firm and honest a champion in public office as Matthew Brady.
Note: We’re rather disappointed to see that the New Yorker published a piece observing the centenary of the Arbuckle case and the death of Virginia Rappe and only rehashed what the author could lift from the Greg Merritt book, Room 1219, which is also superannuated.
This blog was published in time for journalists to see what is new and what other possibilities there are for revision and doing justice—especially in regard to Virginia Rappe.
This isn’t new for the magazine, since one of us (James Reidel) assisted in the writing of a similar anniversary piece observing the 1955 disappearance of Weldon Kees. It is entirely lifted from his book Vanished Act (2003), a biography of the poet and artist who disappeared from the Golden Gate Bridge in 1955.
Reidel did enjoy seeing himself called “the assiduous biographer” by Tony Lane.
 Brady refers to Police Judge Sylvain Lazarus, who presided over the preliminary hearing referred to here as well in late September 1921.
Gouverneur Morris IV (1876–1953), the author of novels, short stories, and screenplays as well as a freelance journalist. To call him a “pulp” novelist is probably an injustice, for his work hardly anticipates or resembles Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Morris, at least during the first half of his career, dealt with bad characters of another kind, like men who took advantage of women in his 1914 short story “When My Ship Comes In,” about Broadway, with illustrations by Charles Dana Gibson. His screenplay for the Wallace Beery vehicle A Tale of Two Worlds(1921) follows the life of a white child raised by Chinese foster parents who is sold as a sex slave by Beery’s tong gang leader.
Morris covered the first Arbuckle trial in November–December 1921 for the San Francisco Call and his articles leading up to the trial didn’t take sides per se. Here he writes perhaps the only published profile of District Attorney Matthew Brady.
AUTHOR MORRIS ANALYZES ARBUCKLE PROSECUTOR BRADY GIVES IMPRESSION OF BEING FAIR, IMPARTIAL FOR JUSTICE IN TRIAL By GOUVERNEUR MORRIS
Gouverneur Morris, celebrated author, who will write a daily description of the Arbuckle trial exclusively for The Call, gives his impression of District Attorney Matthew Brady in the following thumb nail sketch:
The newspapers do not give me the same impression of San Francisco’s district attorney that the man himself does. That’s because one newspaper quotes him and another misquotes him and none attempts to describe him or to say what he is like, though all probably did plenty of that better than I can when he was being elected to his present high office. But that was a long time ago and readers may have forgotten.
From the quotations and misquotations I derived the erroneous impression that Brady is no longer an Irish name, and that it usually belongs to a man who is lean and savage, and, who if he is in the public service is a persecutor rather than a prosecutor. I got the idea that Mr. Brady was one of those district attorneys who believes that the end and the aim of public service is convictions. Now if Mr. Brady is that kind of a district attorney, then in the conversation which I had with him today, he deceived me grossly. For most certainly he gave me the impression in his dealings with the sins of mankind his inclination is to be tolerant and humane, to get at the truth rather than to garble it for glamour’s sake, and on the whole to be very much relieved whenever the truth warrants a jury bringing in a verdict of “not guilty.”
He himself, for any other district attorney with humane, and tolerant impulses. would make an ideal defendant. It would be difficult to convict him, and I not a pleasure. He has the broad and strong body which so often is kept going by a kind heart; white hair, rosy checks, a voice at once manly and beguiling; large but not loud.
Upon one point his friends and his enemies are united. And I have talked with no man in San Francisco who does not say with all his heart that Mr. Brady is an honest man. And I would have taken it upon myself to say that I thought that of him, even if a lot of others had said the opposite. Certainly, he rings true and honest.
FAIRNESS IN DICTATED
Mr. Brady has no intention of letting the prosecution of Roscoe Arbuckle turn into a persecution. He believes that he has a case, or else, of course, he could not prosecute, and he believes that case is stronger than any defense that can be made. Nevertheless, if the defense has I something up its sleeve which has not been foreseen by the prosecution or known to exist, and which would cause the case of the prosecution to fall to the ground like a house of cards, I am inclined to believe that Mr. Brady would be more glad than sorry, for to him a prisoner at the bar of justice or behind the bars of a prison, whatever his alleged or proven wickedness may be, is also a human being in trouble.
But this can only be a thumbnail. Impressionistic sketch. I believe that San Francisco is going to be proud of the figure which Matthew P. Brady will cut at the Arbuckle trial.
[The following is taken from or work-in-progress, in which we describe the testimony at the second session of the Coroner’s Court, conducted by San Francisco County Coroner T. B. W. Leland before an all-male jury. Following her appearance, her importance to the prosecution of Arbuckle quickly faded. Nevertheless, District Attorney Matthew Brady kept open the possibility that she might appear in court again as late as March 1922, during the third Arbuckle trial.
We have various theories about why Delmont wasn’t put on the stand again at any subsequent venue related to the Arbuckle case. One of these is that much of what she stated behind closed doors and even in the Coroner’s Court was “unprintable.” It is usually assumed that her account of events differed so greatly from others’ statements that it was deemed unreliable and too much of a risk to the prosecution.
When the defense had an opportunity to call her to the stand, they refused. Of course, her describing the real nature of Arbuckle’s party may have been the cause. By having his Labor Day party in a hotel suite, Arbuckle may have thought he’d found a loophole in a Hollywood maxim cited in Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One, to wit, “never do before the camera what you would not do at home and never do at home what you would not do before the camera.”]
Still dressed in black, Maude Delmont was again aided by a policewoman who, beside her, made Delmont appear taller. Delmont looked tense, fragile, ten years older than her real age (late thirties), and hardly what one would imagine of a flinty, hard-drinking daughter of a frontier dentist. The corners of her mouth drooped, her dark hair showed strands of gray. Kinder reporters saw her crow’s feet as “lines of sorrow” that suggested an “intimacy of years” spent with Rappe. The intimacy was quickly revealed to be less than a week. “But friendship,” Delmont said, “cannot be reckoned by the clock. The moment I met Virginia I felt there was a real bond between us. We were together every minute almost after we met, and it seems to us now as though I’d always known and loved her.”
Delmont faced a packed courtroom, including Arbuckle sitting between two policemen and wearing a new blue Norfolk jacket with a pair of knickerbocker trousers. His bloodshot eyes were fixed on Delmont while he squeezed and twisted his green golf cap in his fists and leaned forward in his chair just behind the railing that separated him from the defense counsel’s table. At times he yawned, either tired or bored, and said nothing to his lawyers
After identifying herself and where she lived, Delmont drank deeply from a glass of cold water. She put the glass down, asked for warm water, and the inquest was held up while a coffee cupful was brought to her. As though by rote, with lines almost certainly rehearsed beforehand, Delmont repeated much of the same story she had told in her original statement, as it appeared in the press albeit with changes that were hardly negligible, which got the attention of everyone at the defense table.
With trembling hands, Delmont took sip after sip of warm water so as not to lose her voice or composure. She described everything in “minutest detail” from the trip to Selma to the Palace Hotel breakfast, where a bellhop handed Rappe a note inviting her to Arbuckle’s suite at the St. Francis Hotel. Delmont said the note read, “Come on up and say hello.” It bore Arbuckle’s signature.
Delmont made no mention of Fred Fishback or Ira Fortlouis playing any role in the invitation. Instead, she went on to the Labor Day party and once more reporters were forced to censor themselves rather and give only the gist. Instead of being forced into room 1219, Delmont no longer would say that Arbuckle had dragged Rappe by the wrist. Nor did she repeat that he had always wanted Rappe since 1916. Delmont made it seem as though Rappe entered that room of her own free will to use its bathroom. Then Arbuckle immediately followed Rappe. When she came out of the bathroom, Delmont saw them talk for a moment in the middle of the bedroom. “I can’t say if he went into the bathroom with her,” she said at one point. I guess he dragged her in.” But this last statement was not allowed to stand. Delmont, however, said she saw Arbuckle walk past Miss Rappe and close the connecting doors between 1220, the parlour room, and his bedroom. When a juror asked Delmont if she had verbally objected to when Arbuckle locked the door on himself and Rappe, Delmont said no.
Fifteen minutes passed before Delmont began to worry about Rappe. “I didn’t see why Virginia would not come out,” Delmont said. “I didn’t think it was nice for her to be in there with Mr. Arbuckle.”
Other accounts of the same testimony suggested that Delmont was alerted to something wrong not by Rappe’s silence but by her scream at one point.
“What was the nature of the scream,” Leland asked.
“As a woman in agony,” replied Delmont.
There was no response from inside room 1219 as Delmont tried to get Rappe’s attention. “Then I became angry,” Delmont said, “and I kicked ten or twelve times on the door of the room, but there wasn’t a sound.” After more time passed, Delmont called the desk. Harry Boyle took the call and came up at once and his presence in room 1220 prompted Arbuckle to open the door of 1219.
Delmont continued, describing what happened after she, Zey Prevost, and Alice Blake entered Arbuckle’s bedroom up until Rappe was carried out. Throughout her testimony, however, Dr. Leland could hear that Delmont had changed her original story. Perhaps getting looks from Arbuckle’s lawyers, Dr. Leland interrupted Delmont and lectured her on the significance of her testimony as a complaining witness.
“I am here to tell just the truth,” she protested. Nevertheless, Leland warned the witness to “consider her statements well.”
“Maybe I am leading you,” he continued, attempting to tease additional details from Delmont, whom he presumed to be fatigued from a night of Grand Jury testimony.
“Sometimes people go to sleep and just say yes,” Leland said.
“I’m not asleep,” Delmont replied and candidly added, “for I had a little hypodermic before I came here, and I am all right.”
Observers took her to mean an injection of morphine, of which dry mouth is a tell-tale side effect. Her drinking, too, raised eyebrows and made for the logical impression that she was an alcoholic—morphine being a temporary palliative for the side effects of alcohol abuse, including delirium tremens. Delmont admitted to drinking on the way up from Los Angeles to San Francisco—six whiskies while in Selma alone.
Dr. Leland asked about her prodigious capacity on Labor Day afternoon. Delmont admitted to drinking “eight or ten drinks of Scotch whisky.”
“Were you beginning to feel the effect of the drinks?” Leland asked.
“Undoubtedly,” Delmont answered. She had been dancing, as well, and getting very hot in her black dress. “So I asked Mr. Sherman if he would mind if I slipped on some pajamas and he said, ‘No, certainly not’ and he took me into his room, got a suit of his pajamas from a dresser drawer and went out while I put them on.”
Dr. Leland asked Delmont about what Rappe and Arbuckle had to drink. Rappe may have had two or three drinks, both gin and orange juice. Rappe, said Delmont, was more interested in dancing and having a good time. Leland pressed on, asking if it were possible that Rappe had been drinking before Delmont had been allowed to join the Labor Day party.
“She was there only five minutes,” Delmont said in disbelief, “and common sense will tell you that she couldn’t have had many.”
 The following passage is adapted from “Woman Witness Tells Why She Is Actor’s Nemesis,” Oakland Tribune, 13 September 1921, 2; United Press, “Arbuckle Sees Ray of Hope,” [Long Beach] Daily Telegram, 13 September 1921, 1; “Sensational Details of Party Told at Virginia Rappe Inquest,” San Francisco Chronicle, 14 September 1921, 7; and Robert H. Willson, “Stories Told Coroner Jury Conflicting,” San Francisco Examiner, 14 September 1921, 4; and A.P. Night Wire, “Proceedings of the Day,” Los Angeles Times, 14 September 1921, 1, 2.
Roscoe Arbuckle didn’t penetrate Virginia Rappe with a Coke bottle. The origin of what has become a fetish object is an idle speculation made by Kenneth Anger in Hollywood Babylon.
As headlines screamed, the rumors flew of a hideously unnatural rape: Arbuckle, enraged at his drunken impotence, had ravaged Virginia with a Coca-Cola bottle, or a champagne bottle, then had repeated the act with a jagged piece of ice . . . or, wasn’t it common knowledge that Arbuckle was exceptionally well-endowed? (28)
The family newspapers of the 1920s didn’t—and wouldn’t—print anything like this. Some did report the original story on which Anger embellishes and gets half wrong: the ice part is true.
On Saturday, September 24, Al Semnacher, Virginia Rappe’s manager, testified to an encounter with Arbuckle and his companions in room 1220 of the St. Francis Hotel on the morning after the comedian’s Labor Day 1921 party (i.e., September 6, 1921).
In the presence of director Fred Fishback and actor Lowell Sherman—who had shared the twelfth-floor suite—as well as Semnacher and the comedian’s chauffeur, Arbuckle shared an anecdote from the day before. After Rappe had been found on his bed in room 1219, suffering from excruciating pain in her lower abdomen and going in and out of consciousness, Arbuckle attempted to wake her up. He returned to room 1219 and pushed a piece or pieces of ice into her vagina. (A bowl of ice was on the bar-buffet table in room 1220.)
Semnacher might have been shocked by Arbuckle’s attempt to make light of what had happened and repressed the memory of it until re-experiencing it in a dream. The way this played out in his appearance at the preliminary investigation in the Women’s Court was given much fanfare. Women’s Court was a special venue of the Police Court of San Francisco that limited the number of men to ensure courtroom decorum for female plaintiffs, witnesses, and spectators. The judge, Sylvain Lazarus, was to decide whether Arbuckle be tried for manslaughter or murder in the Superior Court of San Francisco County.
The District Attorney’s office promised that Semnacher would reveal on the stand that Arbuckle himself had disclosed the manner in which he had injured Virginia Rappe. But this didn’t happen.
Semnacher, in the penultimate moment of his testimony, was pressed by Assistant District Attorney Ira Golden about what he remembered of Arbuckle’s anecdote, specifically, what word did he use in reference to Rappe’s genitalia.
Semnacher, aware of the many women around him, felt uncomfortable saying the word aloud. So, Golden gave Semnacher the option of whispering it to the court reporter.
Semnacher answered, “The word is snatch.”
Golden’s intent wasn’t to present the ice as a weapon but rather to prove that Arbuckle hadn’t been a gentleman at the party and had treated Rappe abominably. This ploy was quickly apprehended by Arbuckle’s chief counsel, Frank Dominguez. As a seasoned criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, he knew that Golden had only made Arbuckle look like a cad and with the hope that such an outrage would sway Judge Lazarus, especially if he wanted to appease the women in his courtroom.
The next day, Sunday, September 25, after a press conference for Arbuckle’s wife, Minta Durfee, Dominguez intimated to a few lucky reporters that he intended to turn the tables on Ira Golden and his boss, District Attorney Matthew Brady. One of them was Edward J. Doherty of the Chicago Tribune. With his “Foxy Grandpa” wink, Dominguez promised that when he cross-examined Semnacher, he would bring another “startling revelation.”
Dominguez promised that the ice would be seen for what it was, the right thing to do for Rappe and much to Arbuckle’s credit. Dominguez intended to present Arbuckle not as “a coarse buffoon, boasting about a horrible thing he had done to a woman, but as a gentleman remarking casually what he had done to bring this woman out of her hysteria.” Dominguez, too, based on sound medical opinion, that what Arbuckle did with the ice, slipping it inside Rappe’s vagina,
had been not only sanctioned but practiced by physicians of all times since the days of Ancient Greece. [. . .] that Arbuckle did not mean his remark to be met with laughter. It was as if he had tried an old remedy, a bit unconventional, perhaps, a bit bizarre, maybe a tad too vulgar to speak about, if you will, but a good remedy, none the less, to cure a headache, or a backache, or a pain in the ear.”
In all likelihood, the wily Dominguez had made it up—but not quite off the top of his head. As ice-making became widespread in the nineteenth century, doctors used pieces of ice to staunch the bleeding and pain of uterine hemorrhages.
Semnacher, perhaps knowing that he had embarrassed Arbuckle, took back what he said about the ice. He testified that he had used the wrong word to describe what the comedian did. He had put the ice on Rappe’s vagina, not in.
Note: Semnacher was one of the few witnesses asked to describe in detail the beverages served at the Labor Day Party. Neither he nor anyone else mentioned that Coca-Cola or champagne had been served. Indeed, the only carbonated beverages he noticed were bottles of orange soda and White Rock Soda, with the topless Psyche on the label admiring her reflection in a pool, an eerie foreshadowing of how Virginia Rappe would be found after tearing off her shirtwaist.
 M. D. Tracy, “Arbuckle Tortured Rappe,” Buffalo Times, 25 September 1921, 21.