A Look at Celebrity Trials

They were both big stars in the 1970s. They were both charged with murdering their wives. But are Robert Blake's legal woes the second coming of the O.J. Simpson trial?

Blake, charged with killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, is the latest celebrity to face real-life justice in a court of law. But the comparisons to the Simpson trial really end there.

Since the dawn of Hollywood, big stars have gone on trial for serious crimes. While some seem to have exploited their fame to escape conviction, others have seen their careers destroyed.

In the two most infamous celebrity trials, defendants O.J. Simpson and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle were both acquitted. But both of them were effectively drummed out of show business.

But some stars recover after facing legal troubles. Errol Flynn seemed to have increased his popularity after beating charges of statutory rape in 1943.

Here is a look at some of the more serious trials involving popular entertainers.

Celebrities on Trial

Fatty Arbuckle — In 1921, just after signing a three-year, $3 million contract with Paramount Studios, Arbuckle threw a wild Labor Day party. Four days later, 25-year-old starlet Virginia Rapp died and Arbuckle was charged with rape and manslaughter, amid allegations the heavyset silent film star crushed the young woman while forcing himself upon her.

Two juries deadlocked and a third acquitted Arbuckle, declaring a great injustice had been done. Nevertheless, his career was ruined. Once the hightest-paid comic in Hollywood, he died an impoverished alcoholic.

Errol Flynn — The swashbuckling movie star, who had a reputation for courting very young women, was charged in November 1942 with statutory rape of two teenage girls. Known as a charmer — hence the term "in like Flynn" — he testified in his own defense. He was acquitted by an all-woman jury and his career suffered no long-term damage.

Norman Mailer — In 1960, the novelist stabbed his wife, Adele, during an argument at a party in their New York apartment in 1960. He was charged with felonious assault. She didn't want to press charges, saying they had made up and she just wanted to keep her family together. Nevertheless, the judge refused to dismiss the case. Mailer pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and the couple split up soon after. Mailer went on to marry many more times and win two Pulitzer Prizes.

Sid Vicious — The punk-rock legend died of a drug overdose in 1979 while awaiting trial for murder in the death of his girlfriend. Nancy Spungeon bled to death on the bathroom floor of the couple's room at New York's Chelsea Hotel in 1978, a 7-inch hunting knife in her abdomen.

Jerry Lee Lewis — The rock legend has a long history of brushes with the law. He once shot and wounded his bass player, Norman "Butch" Owens. He avoided jail but had to pay damages. His fourth wife, Jaren, was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool just before their divorce was final in 1982. The next year, his fifth wife, Shawn, was found dead in bed of a methadone overdose. Lewis wasn't charged in either death. A year later, he decided to give wedded bliss another try and took a sixth trip to the altar.

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