Who Killed Virginia Rappe?
Born in Chicago in 1891, Virginia Rappe was raised by her grandmother after her mother died when Rappe was 11. At 14, Rappe started to work as a commercial and art model. After she moved to San Francisco in 1916 to pursue her career as an artist’s model, she met and became engaged to Robert Moscovitz. He was killed in a streetcar accident, and she moved to Los Angeles in 1917. There, director Ford Balshofer hired her for a role in Paradise Garden and then rehired her to appear with Julian Ettinger (an early drag performer) and Rudolph Valentino in Over the Rhine. For her part, Rappe was awarded the title of “Best Dressed Girl in Photos.” The film was released under a different title, An Adventuress. In 1922, after Rappe died the film was re-released as The Isle of Love.
She started a relationship with Henry Lehrman, an actor and director in 1919. They got engaged and were living together, although the 1920 census indicates she was a boarder. During their time together, she was in at least four of his films.