Virginia Rappe was born Virginia Caroline Rapp on July 7, 1891, in New York City. After her mother died she was raised by her grandmother in Chicago. She grew into a beautiful teenager and began modeling when was fourteen. Virginia moved to San Francisco in 1916 and became engaged to dress designer Robert Moscovitz. Before they could be married Robert was killed in a streetcar accident. Virginia was devastated and decided to relocate to Los Angeles. She started acting and landed small roles in the films Paradise Garden and His Musical Sneeze. During this time Virginia had at least one abortion and gave birth to a child that she put up for adoption. In 1919 she began dating director Henry Lehrman. He cast her in several of his films and her career started to take off. She costarred with Rudolph Valentino in The Isle of Love and was given the title "Best Dressed Girl in Pictures". On September 5, 1921 Virginia attended a party hosted by comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. She drank a lot of alcohol at the party and became very ill. Fatty later claimed that he found her passed out in his room.
Eventually she was taken to a hospital where she died on September 9. Virginia was only thirty years old. The official cause of death was a ruptured bladder and secondary peritonitis. Her friend Maude Delmont told police that Fatty had sexually assaulted Virginia during the party. Rumors began to circulate that he had raped with a champagne bottle. Fatty was arrested and charged with manslaughter. During his three headline making trials it was revealed that Virginia suffered from an acute urinary tract infection and her numerous health problems likely contributed to her death. After two mistrials Fatty was acquitted of all charges but his career and reputation were destroyed. Virginia was buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery. Her devoted boyfriend Henry Lehrman paid $1000 to cover her casket in tiger lillies. When Henry died in 1946 he was buried next to her. Sadly the true details about Virginia's death may never be known and she will always be remembered as Fatty Arbuckle's victim. Some fans who have visited her grave claim they have heard the voice of a woman crying.