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F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Also Known As: Died: December 21, 1940
Born: September 24, 1896 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: St. Paul, Minnesota, USA Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

to rekindle a relationship with his young daughter only to be confronted by the wreckage of a past littered with wasted opportunity. Two years later, the short story "Trouble" was published in The Saturday Evening Post; it would be the last Fitzgerald would see printed in the magazine that had once been his most dependable literary home.At what was arguably the lowest point in his life and in desperate need of income, Fitzgerald entrusted his young daughter Scottie to the care of boarding schools and family friends and left alone for Hollywood in 1937. Although two previous trips west in attempts to launch a screenwriting career had come to naught, Fitzgerald was able to secure employment with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a contract writer for $1,000 a week. While the pay was not enough to return him to the lavish lifestyle he had enjoyed a decade earlier, it was substantial enough to sort out much of his financial difficulties. Almost immediately, Fitzgerald began an affair with Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. Years later, Graham would pen Beloved Infidel, an autobiographical account of her time with Fitzgerald. A bestseller, it would later be adapted into a film starring Gregory Peck and...

to rekindle a relationship with his young daughter only to be confronted by the wreckage of a past littered with wasted opportunity. Two years later, the short story "Trouble" was published in The Saturday Evening Post; it would be the last Fitzgerald would see printed in the magazine that had once been his most dependable literary home.

At what was arguably the lowest point in his life and in desperate need of income, Fitzgerald entrusted his young daughter Scottie to the care of boarding schools and family friends and left alone for Hollywood in 1937. Although two previous trips west in attempts to launch a screenwriting career had come to naught, Fitzgerald was able to secure employment with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a contract writer for $1,000 a week. While the pay was not enough to return him to the lavish lifestyle he had enjoyed a decade earlier, it was substantial enough to sort out much of his financial difficulties. Almost immediately, Fitzgerald began an affair with Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. Years later, Graham would pen Beloved Infidel, an autobiographical account of her time with Fitzgerald. A bestseller, it would later be adapted into a film starring Gregory Peck and Deborah Kerr. Although estranged from Zelda, who remained largely in and out of institutions on the East Coast, Fitzgerald still made periodic trips out to visit his wife â¿¿ stays that typically ended in alcohol-fueled disaster. His time in Hollywood was not particularly productive either. While rumored to have done uncredited tinkering on such high-profile efforts as 1939â¿¿s "Gone with the Wind," Fitzgeraldâ¿¿s sole official credit from this period was the screenplay for the World War I romantic drama "Three Comrades" (1938), starring Robert Taylor.

After MGM declined to renew his contract in 1938, Fitzgerald continued to work as a freelance screenwriter for several other studios, although notorious episodes like his brief collaboration with Budd Schulberg on the collegiate drama "Winter Carnival" (1939) â¿¿ both writers were fired for public drunkenness â¿¿ left Fitzgerald with little to show for his efforts. As always he depended upon sales of the occasional short story to magazines like Esquire to supplement his income as he attempted to complete a fifth novel. A lifetime of alcoholism, however, had taken its toll on the writer and on Dec. 21, 1940, F. Scott Fitzgerald succumbed to a massive heart attack in the living room of the apartment he shared with Graham. The once celebrated author was a mere 44 years old. A viewing of Fitzgerald in repose was held at a Hollywood mortuary, where famous friend and literary wit Dorothy Parker, taking a line from "Gatsby," was heard to mumble, "The poor son-of-a-bitch," through her tears. And although Zelda, too fragile to leave the institution, was not able to attend the funeral service later held in Baltimore, among the mourners present were Fitzgeraldâ¿¿s daughter Scottie and his revered Scribnerâ¿¿s editor, Max Perkins.

At the urging of Zelda and with the assistance of longtime friend and literary advisor Edmund Wilson, Fitzgeraldâ¿¿s final novel, originally titled The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously in 1941. Retitled The Last Tycoon, the unfinished novel, reportedly inspired by the persona of movie producer Irving Thalberg, was completed using extensive notes left behind by the author. In 1948, Zelda followed her husband in death, although under even more tragic circumstances when she perished in a fire at the North Carolina mental facility she had been in and out of since the mid-1930s. Regarding himself as a failure at the time of his death, Fitzgerald achieved neither the critical nor the commercial success he had always been certain he was capable of during his lifetime. In fact, it would be another two decades before his work would gradually receive the recognition it so richly deserved. Bolstered by exposure to U.S. soldiers via Armed Services Editions distributed during and after World War II, The Great Gatsby had become required reading for nearly every high school student in the country by the 1960s and Fitzgeraldâ¿¿s masterpiece of the Roaring Twenties was enshrined as one of the truly great American novels.

Although Fitzgeraldâ¿¿s work had been adapted to the screen as far back as the 1920s â¿¿ such as the lost silent version of "The Great Gatsby" (1926), starring a young William Powell as the hapless George Wilson â¿¿ it would be years before his stories and novels began to enjoy a second life with adaptations for such popular television programs as "Robert Montgomery Presents" (NBC, 1950-57). And while both "The Great Gatsby" (1949) and "Tender is the Night (1962) had received screen treatments starring the likes of Alan Ladd and Jason Robards, respectively, it was a third attempt at filming Fitzgeraldâ¿¿s greatest novel that drew the most attention the authorâ¿¿s work had seen in years. Written by Hollywood wunderkind Francis Ford Coppola, "The Great Gatsby" (1974) starred Robert Redford as the enigmatic title character, Mia Farrow as the blithely destructive Daisy, and Sam Waterston as Nick, Gatsbyâ¿¿s friend and the surrogate for the audience. While the sumptuously filmed production earned high marks for the visual feast it presented and the performances of the cast, most critics were disappointed by what was called an ultimately "lifeless" film. Nonetheless, audiences flocked to see Redford and Farrow framed in shimmering close-up, making "The Great Gatsby" one of the more successful films of the year.

Over the decades, both Fitzgeraldâ¿¿s literary works and personal life with Zelda would perennially become fodder for film and television productions, attracting the mediumsâ¿¿ biggest talents. His ambitious unfinished final novel was given the big screen treatment in "The Last Tycoon" (1976), starring Robert De Niro as the studio mogul protagonist, directed by the great Elia Kazan and adapted by revered playwright Harold Pinter. A laudable miniseries adaptation of "Tender is the Night" (Showtime, 1985), starred Peter Strauss as Dick Diver and Mary Steenburgen as his wife, Nicole. Thanks to advancements in special effects wizardry, director David Fincher later embellished the short tale "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2010) into a feature film highlighted by the mind-boggling reverse aging of its leading man Brad Pitt. The subject of much anticipation, yet another take on "The Great Gatsby" (2013) was released, this time starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Tobey Maguire as Nick. Directed by Australian helmer Baz Luhrmann, it was a frenetic eye-popping spectacle produced at an appropriately Gatsby-esque scale.

By Bryce P. Colemanpressed Zelda never attempted another book and remained hospitalized for much of her remaining years.

Nine years after the publication of Gatsby, Fitzgerald at last completed his long-awaited fourth novel, Tender is the Night (1934). Considered his most ambitious work, it told the story of Dick Diver, a brilliant American psychoanalyst, and his wife, Nicole, a wealthy former patient. While on vacation with friends on the French Riviera, Rosemary Hoyt, a beautiful young actress, is drawn into their destructive orbit. Told in a non-linear, chronologically disjointed narrative, it threw off the majority of critics and readers. Although later regarded as Fitzgeraldâ¿¿s most accomplished novel next to Gatsby, at the time of its publication Tender is the Night was easily the struggling authorâ¿¿s least commercially successful book. Months after the publication of Tender is the Night, the authorâ¿¿s fourth and final collection of short fiction during his lifetime, Taps at Reveille (1935), was released. Among the tales contain within was the story that marked Fitzgeraldâ¿¿s farewell to the Jazz Age, "Babylon Revisited," in which an estranged father returns to New York

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