Fitzgerald's Hollywood ending followed sad death
FILE - This undated photo shows author Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is back on the big-screen with Leonardo DiCaprio and director Baz Luhrmann's “The Great Gatsby,” a story adapted for film and television more than half a dozen times since the silent-movie era, when it was published to scant sales in 1925. (AP Photo, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Has-beens in Hollywood usually stay that way. Yet one writer who died there nearly forgotten 73 years ago had one of the most remarkable posthumous revivals in literary history.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is back on the big-screen with Leonardo DiCaprio and director Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," a story adapted for film and television more than half a dozen times since the silent-movie era, when it was published to scant sales in 1925.
Within a couple of decades after Fitzgerald's death in 1940, "Gatsby" was acknowledged as a masterpiece and the author was recognized as one of America's greatest for a body of work that includes "Tender Is the Night," ''This Side of Paradise" and "The Love of the Last Tycoon," the unfinished Hollywood saga he'd been writing when he died.
A huge irony considering no one was reading Fitzgerald when he was scrambling for screenplay work toward the end of his life. There's even a small irony in the place he died of a heart attack at 44. It was the home of his companion, gossip columnist Sheila Graham, in the heart of an industry town where his supreme art never meshed with the studios' need for product. It's also half a block from where the Directors Guild of America headquarters now stands.
This undated publicity photo released by courtesy of Paramount Pictures shows Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby in the 1974 film,"The Great Gatsby," released by Paramount Pictures. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures)
"God is a great stage manager. God is the greatest director of all time for images of pathos," Luhrmann said. "Fitzgerald, just think for all that he gave to us, he had a very rough trot. It is very sad. If he could only know how many people went on to read that novel and how universal it has become."
Luhrmann's "Gatsby" stars DiCaprio in the title role as the fabulously rich mystery man who's really a hopeless, doomed romantic, befriending impressionable neighbor Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) to help revive a lost love with Nick's cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan).
Fitzgerald himself had several unsuccessful stints as a screenwriter in Hollywood, the last beginning in the late 1930s, when he was under contract with MGM, contributing fitfully to scripts to pay off debts and cover medical bills for his wife, Zelda, who was in a mental hospital. His reputation for boozing and carousing were Fitzgerald's undoing; though he worked on a number of films, including "Gone with the Wind," his only screenwriting credit came for the 1938 war romance "Three Comrades."