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I’ve been doing history trivia for years, and I’ve sent out a daily history gazette since 1992. I know among my readers have been a number of historians and teachers from as far away as Sheffield England, Ireland, Beijing and Stonybrook, NY. There’s a number of contentious incidents I cover like revolutions and assassinations. But strangely enough, the incident I get more mail on than anything else is the scandal involving silent film comedian Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle.

Here is my original entry on Sept. 5th

1923-FATTY ARBUCKLE- Ex-plumber turned comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle signed a $3 million dollar deal with Paramount Pictures. He celebrated by staging a wild three day party in the penthouse of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. During the wild goings on he pulled young starlet Virginia Rappe into a bedroom. Soon screams were heard. Arbuckle came out and said "Get her dressed. She makes too much noise". Friends found Rappe in agony with her clothes shredded. She died of toxemia from a ruptured bladder saying "Fatty Arbuckle did this to me! Make sure he doesn't get away with it." Arbuckle was tried twice for rape and first degree murder, but was acquitted after both were hung juries. To this day film historians argue if Arbuckle was framed. In the trial it came out that Rappe had had a botched abortion and was suffering from internal bleeding before the party.
But Fatty Arbuckles career was destroyed. Women tore down the screen whenever his face appeared. In Wyoming cowboys pulled out their sixshooters and shot at the screen. At the suggestion of Buster Keaton he made a living writing gags under the pseudonym William or Will B, Good. Years later Santa Monica pulled him over for drunk driving. He flung a champagne bottle out of the car and laughed "There goes the evidence again!"

Here is a new note I got the other day-

Tom: You did not mention that the autopsy showed Virginia Rappe suffered from untreated venereal decease that weakened her uterus walls and played a major roll in her death. Or that she would have lived if she was treated at the hospital. Or that she and her boyfriend were banned from the Hal Roach lot for infecting half the crew with VD. Or even the roll of dear Bambina Delmont, the blackmail stringer with her 80 felony counts for extortion, bigamy, fraud, and racketeering who tried to blackmail Roscoe and then turned him in when he would not pay.

They also point out that the original stories about Arbuckle were pushed by the Hearst Newspapers, sort of like the Fox News of their day.

So history is a living thing after all. And as Napoleon once said;” History are but myths we can all agree on.’

Birthdays: Antonio Frescobaldi, Captain William Bligh, Jimmy the Greek Snyder, Joe Theismann, Cliff Robertson, Angela Cartwright, Alf Landon, Dee Dee Sharpe who sang the 60's R&B hit the Mashed Potato, Adam Sandler, Don Mattingly, Otis Redding, Anita Ekberg, Hugh Grant, Topol, Colonel Lyman Sanders the Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, James Hilton-writer who created the name for the paradise Shangri-La for his novel Lost Horizon

1087- WILLIAM THE CONQUERER DIED- King William had subdued Normandy, England and Scotland and was one of the most successful kings of the Middle Ages. But old age and good living caught up to him and Mother Nature had the last laugh. He became so fat he could barely ride a horse. One day when riding near Mantes-La-Jolie his horse bucked. This caused his saddle pommel to stab up into his groin and rupture his bladder. He was carried to a monastery in great pain. His children ignored him in his last hours because they were too busy fighting for the throne. Even his servants stole the rich bed trappings and rings from his fingers as he lay in a coma. William the Conquerer died alone in a bare room. Finally the coffin provided was too small for the large body, now swollen with putrefied gas. Some monks tried to pound it into the box, but the corpse finally burst "filling the room with horrid, malodorous odors that drove all from the Church."

1825- BEETHOVEN'S LAST PUBLIC APPEARANCE. Before he retired to a government appointed home, Ludwig von Beethoven was still making appearances as a conductor and pianist, even though he was now stone deaf. The fees for personal appearances were still too good. The orchestra rehearsed to play the 9th Symphony and the Missa Solemnis while ignoring his commands, starting and stopping on a signal given by the first violinist. So Beethoven flapped his arms around fruitlessly while the orchestra played. Everyone enjoyed it even though people in the first few rows could hear the Maestro wailing to the music, unaware of his own voice. When the performance ended he was still gyrating, obviously a few bars behind the orchestra and oblivious to the cheers of the audience. The soprano made him turn around and bow.

1908- THE PATENTS TRUST- Thomas Edison, Charles Pathe and Leon Gaumont form the Motion Picture Patents Group. Called the "Trust", their attempt to monopolize movie production and strangle off the independents had a lot to do with the early filmmakers exodus to Los Angeles. Otherwise the film capitol of the world would have been Ft. Lee, New Jersey. The only positive result of the trust was they enforced a regular industry standard for film stock of 35 mm running at 24 frames per second. It seems the Mitchell Camera Company was developing a motorized motion picture camera to replace the hand crank variety but they needed an official speed to set it at. In a contentious meeting of the Trust held at the Waldorf Astoria no one could settle on a single speed. Finally the compromise was made to make it the number of delegates in the room- 24.

1910-Alice B. Toklas moved in permanently with Gertrude Stein in the 22 Rue de Flerus in Paris. Until Steins death in 1946 they held court in one of the most glittering social networks of twentieth century Paris. Regular soirees included Picasso, Matisse, Dali, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, Max Ernst, Virgil Thompson, Sherwood Anderson, Max Ernst, Guilliame Apollinaire and Carlos Santayanna. But the ultra modern was not to everyone’s taste. Painter Mary Cassatt only visited once. She later told a friend:" I never saw so many horrible things, I never met so many horrible people!"

1920- Silent movie star Olive Thomas, nicknamed America's Kid Sister, partied a little too hard at the Dead Rat Cafe in Paris. The 21 year old star died of an overdose of cocaine and alcohol. Another theory was she accidentally overdosed on mercury bicholoride tablets. Her nude body was discovered wrapped in a full length ermine fur left on her couch in the Ritz Hotel. The scandal started the first investigation of drugs in Hollywood. It netted an army captain named Spaulding who admitted that film stars like Thomas, Mabel Normand and Ramon Navarro were regular clients for morphine, heroin and cocaine. Shortly after Groucho Marx put in his vaudeville show Animal Crackers the song Hooray for Captain Spaulding,.

1926 – The National Broadcasting Company or NBC created by Radio Corporation of
America RCA. Under the direction of David Sarnoff it became the powerhouse network of broadcasting, recording and later television.

1939- One week after Hitler invaded Poland and World War Two began, Italian Fascist planes taking off from their bases in Libya bombed the city of Tel Aviv in British Protectorate Palestine, killing 150.

1939- The first Andy Panda cartoon.

1939- The first day of shooting on Charlie Chaplin’s film the Great Dictator.

1943- The first V-2 missile hit London, destroying buildings in the Chiswick area. The V-2 was the first ballistic missile and the Allies were powerless to stop or intercept it. Tens of thousands of London children were evacuated for safety to Scotland and even as far as Canada. After the war the left over V-2’s were gathered up by the US and Red Armies as the basis for the beginning of their space programs.

1945 – The first bug in a computer program was discovered by Grace Hopper. A moth
was removed with tweezers from a relay & taped into the log. Since then any computer glitch was nicknamed "a bug".

1950 - 1st use of TV laugh track invented by Hank McCune.

1951 - 1st broadcast of the soap opera" Love of Life " on CBS-TV.

1956- Elvis Presley appeared on nationwide television on the Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan himself had vowed never to have the kid on his show but caved in to network pressure. He stayed home that first time and actor Charles Laughton was the substitute host. CBS Network censors thought the gyrations of Elvis' pelvis so obscene that in many markets they blacked out the lower portion of the screen so he was covered the waist down.

1967- George of the Jungle t.v. show with SuperChicken and Tom Slick premiered.

1982- Princess Grace of Monaco, the former movie actress Grace Kelly, died in a car accident on the mountainous hill roads of Monaco. Twenty years earlier in the film To Catch a Thief, Alfred Hitchcock had her drive her car at dangerous speeds over the exact same hairpin turns.