Silent film star Fatty Arbuckle was on top of the world in 1921. Under contract to Paramount for a million dollars a year, with seven films in theaters, he was living a lavish life in the early days of Hollywood.
Then came the incident that changed everything: the mysterious death of a young actress after a night of Prohibition-era partying. A charge of murder against Arbuckle and a scandal that riveted the American public.
Writer and film historian Greg Merritt’s meticulously researched new book, “Room 1219: The Life of Fatty Arbuckle, the Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe, and the Scandal that Changed Hollywood,” tells the tale in a way that brings alive the dawn of the film industry, and the nature of celebrity.
We talked to him about Arbuckle and fame in the age before Twitter.