Obese actor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was one of the highest-paid movie stars in Hollywood when he went to trial for rape and murder in 1921. The story goes like this: Arbuckle booked a suite of rooms at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco for a weekend of partying after he signed one of the most lucrative studio deals in history. At one point, a young, unknown actress named Virginia Rappe ran screaming from one of the bedrooms, ill and in distress. The partygoers saw that she was sick, but nobody checked her into a hospital because they thought she was simply drunk.
Days later, when Rappe died, Arbuckle was charged with rape and murder; allegedly, his sexual assault (possibly with a champagne bottle) had ruptured her bladder, which led to the peritonitis that ultimately killed her. The first two trials ended with a hung jury. In the third trial, Arbuckle was acquitted of the charges because of a complete lack of any evidence against him.
The scandal proved to be Arbuckle's undoing, however. He was blacklisted for a period, and when the ban was lifted, he found it nearly impossible to find work. Arbuckle managed to rebuild some degree of his former fan base -- first under a pseudonym, then as his true self -- but never regained his original popularity. When he passed away at the age of 46, his friend and fellow actor Buster Keaton claimed that it was of a broken heart [source: Noe].