The alleged Bryan Singer sex scandal in Hollywood is one that shows the disturbing underground activities that may be taking place in what was once called Tinseltown. But many past sex scandals in Hollywood’s past have tried to be forgotten, even if some of them never will. It’s the worst when someone involved in a sex scandal that goes beyond the consensual ends up going on with their career without punishment. We’re already seeing far too much of that in the sports world, as well in show business. Yet, it’s nothing new, even if some sex scandals of yore brought one career down while seemingly never affecting any other.
The Fatty Arbuckle Sex Scandal
It’s a wonder a movie hasn’t already been made about the Fatty Arbuckle rape and murder accusation from the 1920s. Talk has been around about a film being made, yet a green light hasn’t been given. Perhaps it’s because Hollywood knows such things are still going on and don’t want any association with making a movie about Hollywood’s past and present underbelly.
What makes the Arbuckle case so painful is that the accusation might have been false. No one has ever known for sure, however, and the mystery of the death of actress Virginia Rappe has never been solved. Her death, though, was brutal, and the thought of Fatty Arbuckle doing it made the public turn against him. He’s one of the few notables who ended up never recovering his career, even if he might have been a pawn to cover for someone else perhaps more powerful.
Charlie Chaplin’s Penchant for Younger Women
While most of Chaplin’s escapades with younger actresses were legal, he was accused of breaking the Mann Act in 1943 by taking actress Joan Berry across state lines for a liaison. She subsequently got pregnant and blabbed the story to the media, which put Chaplin in hot water. Because of his still strong stature at the time, he seems to get off the hook, despite having to pay child support. Oddly, he married his final wife, Oona O’Neill in the middle of all this, and she was only 18.
Today, Chaplin might have found it more challenging to restore his reputation based on his marrying women that were barely legal. However anyone with the power he held in the Hollywood community seems to have it clinched that their careers will survive. It doesn’t matter what they do as we’ve already seen before when legal teams use their prowess. Plus, it makes it more challenging for the public disown a legend when their output stands the test of time as Chaplin’s still does.
Errol Flynn’s Statutory Rape Case
Despite Errol Flynn not having the stature of a Charlie Chaplin, he managed to survive a case where he possibly raped two under-aged girls. There was a huge trial at the time this occurred (1942) and the only thing that kept Flynn from going to jail was the testimony by the girls themselves. A jury didn’t believe them, even if you could say Flynn was saved by a movie industry run dominantly by men. Considering males and females looked up to Flynn as the epitome of masculinity in Hollywood, audiences of the time would have felt some level of confused guilt disowning his already storied career.
Roman Polanski’s Rape Case
This case is still up in the air, because even Polanski isn’t sure he wouldn’t be arrested if he ever arrives back in America. The question is whether the woman he raped in 1977 (Samantha Geimer) wouldn’t change her mind about pressing charges. She’s been quoted as saying she no longer wishes to see Polanski prosecuted. Nevertheless, after Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland five years ago, the chances of him taking any risk in America are small to none.
With a documentary done about this case in recent years, it could be one of the most analyzed cases while subsequently never sullying Polanski’s reputation as a filmmaker. As with Woody Allen and the accusations within his family, the power of the movies seems to override much of the public’s desire to see them thrown in prison.
As wrongheaded as it all is, it may be a factor in why sexual abuse cases in Hollywood continue when they have the shield of popular entertainment to use as a front. When it involves children, though, the Bryan Singer case may see an entirely different reaction from the public who still draw a line on where to forgive.