There is nothing Hollywood fears as much as a messy public trial.
For movie stars, civil or criminal charges often spell the end of reputation and livelihood. In 1921, the false rape and murder charges against the wonderful knock-about comedian, Roscoe Arbuckle, destroyed his brilliant career—in pre-income tax dollars he earned a million a year—and subsequently drove him to drink and an early grave.
Numerous stars paraded into court in law suits ranging from bigamy to paternity and, of course, ugly divorces, fraud and financial improprieties.
The court photos and breathless newspaper coverage were less than flattering, reducing silver screen legends to a frail, if not sordid, human dimension.