Roscoe Arbuckle's career is seen by many film historians as one of the great tragedies of Hollywood. At the height of his career, he suddenly found himself arrested and placed on trial for his role in the death of rising starlet Virginia Rappe - a charge he was acquitted of, though the case had to be tried three times before Arbuckle was pronounced innocent. The resulting infamy destroyed his career and his personal life. His case has been examined by scholars and historians over the years, and it is widely believed by most serious historians that Arbuckle was indeed an innocent man.
The Arbuckle case was one of three major scandals that rocked Hollywood, and led to calls for reform of the "indecency" being promoted by motion pictures. It resulted in the creation of the Production Code, which set standards for decency in Hollywood films.
Arbuckle tried to return to moviemaking, but audiences shunned him and he retreated into alcoholism - in the words of his first wife "Roscoe only seemed to find solace and comfort in a bottle". Buster Keaton attempted to help Arbuckle by letting him work on Keaton's feature films (Arbuckle has co-directing credit on Keaton's Sherlock Jr under the pseudonym of "Will B. Goodrich"), but Arbuckle had become irritable and difficult to control. He died prematurely from heart failure in 1933 in Hollywood, CA. Buster Keaton stated repeatedly that Roscoe died of a broken heart.
Roscoe was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean by his third wife Addie McPhail, although it was erronously reported that he had been interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.