American novellist Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald sadly died 21 December 1940 after suffering a heart attack. He was born September 24, 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to an uper-middle-class family, Fitzgerald was named after his famous second cousin, three times removed, Francis Scott Key, but was referred to as “Scott.” He was also named after his deceased sister, Louise Scott. Fitzgerald spent he first decade of his childhood in Buffalo, New York and Syracuse, New York between 1901 and 1903). Fitzgerald attended two Catholic schools on the West Side of Buffalo, first Holy Angels Convent and n Nardin Academy. Fitzgerald was intelligent with an interest in literature, his doting mother ensuring that her son had all the advantages. Fitzgerald attended Holy Angels for only half a day—and was allowed to choose which half. In 1908, the family returned to Minnesota, where Fitzgerald attended St. Paul Academy, St. Paul from 1908 to 1911. When he was 13 he published a detective story in the school newspaper. In 1911, when Fitzgerald was 15 years old, his parents sent him to the Newman School, a prestigious Catholic prep school in Hackensack, New Jersey. There he met Father Sigourney Fay, who encouraged him to pursue his literary ambitions.
After graduating in 1913, Fitzgerald attended Princeton University, New Jersey, where he befriended future critics and writers Edmund Wilson and John Peale Bishop and wrote for the Princeton Triangle Club, the Nassau Lit, and the Princeton Tiger And the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, which ran the Nassau Lit and the Universty Cottage club The Princeton Triangle was a kind of musical-comedy society.
in 1917 Fitzgerald dropped out of school to join the U.S. Army. Afraid that he might die in World War I with his literary dreams unfulfilled, Fitzgerald hastily wrote a novel called The Romantic Egotist. the reviewer noted its originality and encouraged Fitzgerald to submit more work in the future. During the 1920’s Fitzgerald travelled to Paris and the French Riviera, befriending many members of the American expatriate community in Paris, notably Ernest Hemingway. Fitzgerald supplemented his income by writing short stories for such magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s Weekly, and Esquire, and sold his stories and novels to Hollywood studios.
Fitzgerald wrote his stories in an authentic manner then put in “twists that made them into saleable magazine stories. Although Fitzgerald’s passion lay in writing novels, only his first novel sold well enough to support the opulent lifestyle that he and Zelda adopted as New York celebrities. (The Great Gatsby, now considered to be his masterpiece, did not become popular until after Fitzgerald’s death.) Because of this lifestyle, as well as the bills from Zelda’s medical care, Fitzgerald was constantly in financial trouble and often required loans from his literary agent, Harold Ober, and his editor at Scribner’s, Maxwell Perkins. When Ober decided not to continue advancing money to Fitzgerald, the author severed ties with his longtime friend and agent. (Fitzgerald offered a good-hearted and apologetic tribute to this support in the late short story “Financing Finnegan”.)
Fitzgerald began working on his fourth novel during the late 1920s and also wrote short stories. Fitzgerald rented the “La Paix” estate in the suburb of Towson, Maryland to work on his latest book, the story of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychiatrist who falls in love with and marries Nicole Warren, one of his patients. Some critics have seen the book as an autobiographical novel recounting Fitzgerald’s problems with his wife, the corrosive effects of wealth and a decadent lifestyle, his own egoism and self-confidence, and his continuing alcoholism. This was published in 1934 as Tender Is the Night. Most critics felt that Fitzgerald had not lived up to their expectations. The novel did not sell well upon publication but has since become a classic.
In 1937, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood, Besides writing, he also got involved in the film industry. Although he reportedly found movie work degrading, Fitzgerald was once again in dire financial straits, and spent the 1930s in Hollywood, working on commercial short stories, scripts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and his fifth and final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon. Published posthumously as The Last Tycoon, it was based on the life of film executive Irving Thalberg. Among his other film projects was Madame Curie. In 1939, MGM ended the contract, and Fitzgerald became a freelance screenwriter
Sadly Fitzgerald and Zelda fell out due to his alcoholism; she continued living in mental institutions on the East Coast, while he lived with his lover Sheilah Graham, the gossip columnist, in Hollywood. Records from the 1940 U.S. Census have him officially living at the estate of Edward Everett Horton in Encino, California San Fernando Valley. From 1939 until his death in 1940, Fitzgerald mocked himself as a Hollywood hack through the character of Pat Hobby in a sequence of 17 short stories, later collected as “The Pat Hobby Stories” which were published in The Esquire appearing January 1940 to July 1941.
Fitzgerald had been an alcoholic since his college days, and became notorious during the 1920s for his extraordinarily heavy drinking, leaving him in poor health by the late 1930s. Fitzgerald suffered two heart attacks in the late 1930s And was ordered by his doctor to avoid strenuous exertion. He moved in with Sheilah Graham, who lived in Hollywood on North Hayworth Avenue, where he had two flights of stairs to climb to his apartment. On the night of December 20, 1940, Fitzgerald and Sheilah Graham attended the premiere of This Thing Called Love starring Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas. As they left the Pantages Theater, Fitzgerald became dizzy and The following day, Fitzgerald jumped from his armchair, grabbed the mantelpiece, gasped and fall to the floor. Upon entering the apartment to assist Fitzgerald, he was found dead. His body was moved to the Pierce Brothers Mortuary. Fitzgerald died at age 44, before he could complete The Love of the Last Tycoon. His manuscript, was edited by his friend, the literary critic Edmund Wilson, and published in 1941 as The Last Tycoon. In 1994 the book was reissued under the original title The Love of the Last Tycoon.
Fitzgerald is considered a member of the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. His works are the paradigmatic writings of the Jazz Age, and have inspired writers ever since the publication of The Great Gatsby which is required reading in many school and college classes. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby (his most famous), and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also wrote many short stories concening themes of youth and promise along with age and despair.
Fitzgerald’s work has been adapted into films many times. Tender is the Night was filmed in 1962, and made into a television miniseries in 1985. The Beautiful and Damned was filmed in 1922 and 2010. The Great Gatsby has been the basis for numerous films of the same name, spanning nearly 90 years; 1926, 1949, 1974, 2000, and 2013 adaptations. In addition, Fitzgerald’s own life from 1937 to 1940 was dramatized in 1958 in Beloved Infidel. Fitzgerald is also a 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame and is also the namesake of the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota, home of the radio broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion.