It — whatever "it" was, exactly — happened on Labor Day in 1921, in Room 1219 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. "It" led to the death of an actress named Virginia Rappe, and that, in turn, led to Hollywood's first high-profile scandal.
Before then, Fatty Arbuckle was a massive Hollywood star. He was one of the comedic greats, the first star to be worth a million dollars, known as the king of slapstick. And in 1921, he was the unlikely defendant in a murder trial.
All that's really known for sure is that both he and Rappe were guests at a booze-filled Labor Day party. (The only real problem with that was that Prohibition started one year before.) It was afternoon when Rappe's screams brought people to the suite, and she died a few days later. According to Arbuckle, he had brought her upstairs to rest because she had been complaining of exhaustion and difficulty breathing. He said he had gone into the bathroom when she collapsed in the room. According to the public, he had killed her during an attempted rape. The evidence against him was pretty simply Rappe's words: "He did this to me."
There was no evidence of sexual assault, and she was fully dressed when she was found. She suffered from a chronic condition called cystitis, or bladder inflammation. Her cause of death was peritonitis and a ruptured bladder. The accusations of rape first came from Rappe's friend, Bambina Maude Delmont, who would tell police that Arbuckle had raped her. Delmont would never take the stand at the trial, as she admitted that she had tried to blackmail him and other powerful men she procured girls for.
After three trials, he was finally acquitted. His career was ruined, though, at least as Fatty Arbuckle. Will B. Good tried to make a comeback, and strangely, discovered a young comedian named Bob Hope before dying of a heart attack at 46 years old.