If all those stories told of the Los Angeles movie colony are true, why do the film producers go to all the trouble of scenarios and posed pictures? Why not just turn their cameras on Hollywood from day to day?

Tacoma Ledger
March 3, 1922

Wednesday, June 22

Angels with dirty secrets...


Hollywood, 1927. A struggling studio puts everything on the line to produce the world’s first talking picture, when its greatest star is found brutally murdered.

The world is gripped by the fall out from Charlie Tanner’s mysterious death. Studio manager Alexander Sirotov has his hands full managing the press – and persuading reigning Queen of Hollywood, madcap comedy star Esme Holt, to play the grieving widow when she insists that the terms of the fauxmance contract expired along with Charlie.

Persuading extremely carefully that is, as Sirotov is in huge debt to Esme after she lent him the money to re-fit the studio to shoot a talkie. Esme’s lover, gossip columnist Lily Copeland will do anything to protect Esme and the secret son she had with Charlie (it was a complicated fauxmance) – but when the murder suspect she invents to keep Sirotov from framing Esme is ‘identified’ as trainee director Max Von Brauner, Lily realises that the power of her gossip column could send an innocent man to the gallows.

Ferocious ambition perfectly encased in a shining shell of egotism: Stella Carr arrives in Hollywood from the slums of East London and will stop at nothing to pave her rise to the top – including selling out one time lover, action man heart throb Jack McCann who is in the grips of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the horrors he experienced in the trenches.

And struggling a little with the fact that he accidentally shot and killed his best friend, Charlie Tanner.

Please come by and check it out!  

Wednesday, June 15


For more than a month, young star of the pictures, a beauty and a charming young thing, the “best-dressed girl in movies” who was beloved by all who knew her, has lain lifeless in the ground following the most horrible of deeds. One Virginia Rappé perished after attending a party hosted by a giant man whose greed and demand of instant gratification knows no bounds. The exact circumstances of her death remain shrouded in mystery, due to the reprehensible fact that this clown of the pictures fails to confess and atone as any decent American might, and instead claims an entirely different set of circumstances to those reported by the shattered friends who bore witness to the tragedy. What is known, is that over Labor Day weekend this year, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco in his brand new $25,000 Pierce-Arrow in order to host a debauched party at the Hotel St. Francis in that Bay City. Anyone who wondered at his choice to celebrate his new Paramount Contract so far from home had their questions swiftly answered; merely one day later, young actress Virginia Rappe, a guest of the giant comedian, died in agony in a sanatorium. Those are the facts that cannot be disputed, despite the protestations of the Hollywood community, ever closing in protection around one of their own.
If I were to share even half of the goings on at such parties as this one, your dear minds might never recover from the shock, so I shall spare you. You may rest assured though, that the Volstead Act1 was most certainly broken with relish, not to mention other even less savoury substances that were in attendance; altogether conspiring to create an atmosphere that rivals the worst of debauched Rome and Babylon in its excess. How might any decent citizen so much as imagine a party in which the host received guests in his pyjamas? Or one in which young ladies removed their tops so that they might dance free from the constraints of decency and clothing?
This week I spoke with bereaved Maude Delmont, a close friend of the victim, who did all she could to save her. Through her tears, Mrs Delmont did her best to tell me her story.
At a quarter to three in the morning, a time when no good can happen, this bright young starlet of impending fame, undoubtedly shocked at the behaviour she had been forced to witness, began to feel unwell, and retired to a quieter room to rest so that she might recover sufficiently to make her way home to her fiance who had been unavoidably prevented from accompanying her. Henry Lehman, another Keystone director, had entrusted the care of his dearest possession, his Virgina, to a dear friend of both Maude Delmont. Struggling to control her grief, Maude told me how she was powerless to protect her friend, when, moments later this “Fatty” Arbuckle followed Miss Rappe into her sanctuary, and announcing to guests that “this is the chance I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” he locked the door behind him. Concerned for the honour of her friend, but not wishing to insult the generous host of the festivities, Maude did nothing, a choice she will now have to live with for the rest of her natural days.
Even this degenerate party was halted in shock at the shrieks of terror that suddenly emanated from the bedroom in which lay the comedian and the starlet, and, following furious battering on the door by Virginia’s friends, Fatty emerged giggling. His torn pyjamas testament to Virgina’s desperation to defend herself, her hat perched at a crazy angle on his head testament to the humour this comedian finds in his own actions, even the detestable ones. Mr Arbuckle announced that Miss Rappe was making altogether too much noise and suggested that they might throw her out of the window, as her friends brushed past him.
The sight that greeted Maude Delmont and Alice Blake is too shocking to disturb the sensibilities of my dear readers with. Suffice to say that there was blood, lots of it, and a sobbing, terrified, dying girl who begged her friends not to allow the star to get away with what he had done to her.
I am dying Maudie,” sobbed Virgina. “He did this. Fatty Arbuckle hurt me.”
Her prediction proved correct, when, two days later, Virginia indeed died in a San Francisco Sanatorium, her bladder ruptured by the terrible violence that she had endured.
Mr. Arbuckle’s trial begins next month. I beg the jury to fulfil this dear girl’ dying wish: don’t let him get away with it.

Monday, March 21

My boss is giving a party tonight...

          ... and consequently I have been on the telephone all day long to all the bootleggers arranging for the provision of liquor.   Sometimes I wish we had more in the way of speakeasies in Los Angeles, as ringing round and round as I am expected to do for every gathering does become tiresome.  Four of our actors and one director have legitimate prescriptions from their doctors for one pint a day (the errand boys collect it from the pharmacy at lunchtime), so perhaps if the others catch on I will be spared a job.

          Mr Arbuckle has been dealt a blow by the news that the great lawyer Earl Rogers is suffering too much ill health to be able to take on his legal defense, despite Mr Adolph Zukor agreeing to foot the costs.  It really is too bad as Mr Arbuckle needs all the help he can get at the moment.  Why, the yellow press (led of course by the Hearst Newspapers), have all but tried and hung him before he has even been charged.

          The latest story to zip around the colony like a wildfire is that, when Mr Arbuckle finally emerged from the room in which he had been alone with Miss Rappé, the unfortunate girl was heard to shout to her friend:

I’m hurt, I’m dying. He did it Maudie”

          Well I put this to my chum who was in attendance (she has come clean on that matter now) and she swears on her mother's grave she heard no such thing.  Her memory of the evening in question still leaves a little to be desired but she insists that she would have remembered if Miss Rappé had shouted, and she did not.

          She does admit that Mr Arbuckle was getting annoyed with Miss Rappé's complaints of feeling ill (she believes this is why he had gone into the room in the first place, to tell her to be quiet or go home as she was ruining everyone's good time at the party) and may have said some fool thing like “if she doesn't pipe down I'll throw her out of the window”, but she knows for quite sure that it was simply in jest and certainly not intended as any real threat.

Which studio head ...

          ... punched a celebrated comedian on the nose last night at a Los Angeles hotel?
          It seems that the studio head, whose strength was honed heaving scrap metal in Nova Scotia, Canada, took offence to some disparaging remarks made by the comedian (who is terribly popular, even if he isn't fond of our American custom of bathing) about his ex wife, an actress (though I use the term loosely) currently contracted to the studio run by our chivalrous maybe-Canadian, and knocked the comedian down.
           It caused quite the stir though by the following day had been hushed up and everybody present was denying it ever happened.

Sunday, March 20

Everybody by now...

          ... has heard that Fatty Arbuckle has been arrested and awaits trial for the rape and murder of Virginia Rappé.  I just don't know what to think.  Rumours are flying around Hollywood with their usual speed (our publicity man once remarked to me “here in Hollywood, if you sneeze on Wiltshire, someone will sell you cold medicine by Sunset Boulevard”); and their usual accuracy.

          Of course I knew Roscoe back when I was personal assistant to Mack Sennett over at Keystone, and I have to tell you that I never found him anything but gay and charming.  It really is quite incredible to me that such accusations could be true, particularly when Mr Sennett ordered I have the lot shut down and fumigated after he discovered that Virginia Rappé had contracted the sort of disease that suggests much about her character while in our employ.  It is a terrible shame that someone so young has lost her life, of course, but when you live as hard as she did, why naturally there are consequences.

          I got the dope about that party up in San Francisco straight from one of the script girls over at Paramount, who ought to know what she's talking about (though delicacy forbids me from stating precisely why).  I suspect she personally attended the party, though of course she denies this.

          It's not known why Roscoe chose San Francisco as the setting for the party he was throwing to celebrate his new Paramount contract (rumored to be worth $1million a year), but I'm told that he simply wanted to give his brand new Pierce Arrow a good run up the coast, so San Francisco it was.  The party was a typical Hollywood one – plenty of booze, dope, and the sorts of girls who claim they are unable to Charleston freely while fully dressed.

          I know it all sounds terribly shocking, but believe me I've known wilder ones here in Hollywood, some involving names you would be very surprised to hear associated with such behavior.  After some years “knocking about” here in Hollywood, I've come to the conclusion that one must suspend the usual moral judgements when considering movie folk: they are simply of a different breed and subject to a different set of rules than you and I.

          So far, my script girl friend has confirmed that neither Virginia Rappé nor her friend Maude Delmont (well known in these parts for being a “professional correspondent” for blackmailers) were invited to the party, but they arrived nevertheless.  She claims to have been too inebriated to recall much more than that (a claim I'm wont to believe given what I know of her activities) but I suspect that as time goes by and our mutual friend Mr Arbuckle's trial looms, her memory will begin to clear. I shall keep you informed of developments.