Joan Myers on “The Search for Virginia Rappe in Film History”

Independent researcher, Joan Myers, tells us of her findings from her search for information regarding the silent film actress, Virginia Rappe  — mainly known in film history as the woman who “destroyed” Arbuckle’s career through her death following a party in his hotel room.  Myers examines the received history of the subsequent trial(s) investigating Rappe’s death (and Arbuckle’s participation/responsibility) and the factors that contributed to how we understand those events today. A non-canonical reading of silent film history, Myers’s account is an important one for feminist scholars.

You can read more from Myers on Virginia Rappe and the Arbuckle case in the collaborative Feminism 3.0: Archives site with her two articles, “The Case of the Vanishing Juror” and “Minta Durfee and the Last of the Terrible Men.” 

Many thanks to Joan Myers and Marilyn Slater for their photos/materials used in the interview.  The interview is from July 1, 2009.


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11 thoughts on “Joan Myers on “The Search for Virginia Rappe in Film History””

  1. Mike Bryant said:

    I would like to follow up with Joan Myers concerning her research about Virginia Rappe but I can’t find anything since around 2009. I can’t find the book, if it’s been published. Can anyone let me know what the status is of her research and better yet how to get in contact with her? I’m working on a project they may involve a film about Fatty Arbuckle but would take the point of view of Virginia Rappe.


    • Hey there — thanks for the interest in Joan’s fine research. I sent her your connecting info. I will be doing some more interviews with film historians soon…had a bit of a crazy year but dust is starting to settle.

  2. I am fascinated by Ms. Myers’ research. However, I cannot find anything more recent than 2012 on her work on Virginia Rappe. Do you have an email address where I can contact her? Thank you.

  3. I am fascinated by Ms. Myers research and would love to see her book published. Does anyone have an update about this?

  4. Hi there! I’m also deeply interested in her research, and would love to see some updates about what’s happening with it. There’s a definite need for this book–ugly rumors about Virginia get discussed by silent fans all the time. People really do believe that she spread disease in the Sennett studio and that she was some sort of tramp!

    Ms. Myers, if I may urge you: Get movin’ on sharing your research! There’s no time to lose, it’s very much needed, and it’s going to be so welcome!

  5. JAMES REIDEL said:

    Do you know if Joan Myers is still contemplating a book about Rappe? I am drafting a book that would likely be in keeping with her approach.

    I am the author of a biography of Weldon Kees, the poet and this forthcoming book, which I hope, will survive Covid 19:

    • James:
      Thanks so much for reaching out. Joan Myers has stepped away from this particular project. Your new book on Manon Gropius looks great, and I am sure the Rappe project will be important one.

      I will send along your comments to Joan.

      Please stay safe and healthy.

  6. I’m 100% positive that Virginia Rappe suffered blunt force trauma at that party, a blow to the gut would be my guess. Coroners report for Viriginia Rappe, bottom reads all organs normal. Notes marks but does not elaborate. (Of Course) photo of her arm online suggest a struggle of some kind. .It looks like autopsy says Hemhorragic consolidation on the lungs both lower lobes though. that’s a large flow of blood from a damaged blood vessel?(It’s hard to read the writing without magnifying the print) there was in-court testimony about a postmortem examination that was conducted illegally prior to notifying the coroner about Rappe’s death. The examination was done at a maternity hospital, where Rappe was brought when her condition was diagnosed as fatal. No one goes to a party when ill, feverish, in pain, or post an abortion as everyone speculates. According to Virginia Hansen Al Semnacher asked her to go to the party and Virginia seemed insistant on going also.…/ed-1/seq-14/…

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