Fitzgerald’s Muse: The Real Daisy Buchanan

Happy Birthday to F. Scott Fitzgerald! Since the resurgence of Fitzgerald’s popularity, with the re-make of, “The Great Gatsby”, everyone seems to be interested in him. Always remember folks, there is usually a muse behind the man. For Scott, it was his wife, Zelda. Zelda was magnificent and troubled. The original poor, little rich girl. At the age of 8, she used to steal her parents car and go joyriding..yes, I said 8! Her life was gilded, but she was a rebel. At her debutante ball, Zelda said, “I’m so full of confetti, I could give birth to paper dolls!”…wow, right?! Zelda was popular and got away with a lot, because she came from a rich, old family. Zelda graduated high school and that’s when she met Fitzgerald, at a country club dance. She out shined every other girl, especially in his eyes. He immediately professed his love for her, but at her parents behest, agreed that he wasn’t financially stable enough to take care of her. Fitzgerald was determined to obtain money and therefore, obtain Zelda. While he was writing his first novel, he was inspired by Zelda, as the two wrote each other, constantly, falling more and more in love. (The heroine in the book is totally based on Zelda) but, like in The Great Gatsby, it’s all about the money, when it comes to being in love, with an heiress. Zelda told Fitzgerald’s friend: “If he sells the book, I’ll marry him. He is sweet.”! In March 1920, F. Scott’s first novel was published, “This Side of Paradise”, to ravishing reviews, he became an over-night, sensation! Zelda agreed to go to New York and marry him. They wed in , April 1920. Upon marrying her, Fitzgerald told reporters, “I’ve married the heroine of my stories”! While in New York, the couple were SO WILD, William Randolph Hearst hired a reporter, to follow them around, full-time! At the time, things were wonderful for, Zelda. She was still the, unruly child-woman, she was in her adolescence. Zelda was seen sneaking in the back of the kitchens at the old Waldorf, dancing on the tables, wearing the chef’s headgear, then finally falling and being escorted out by the house detectives. And lastly, plunging into The Plaza’s fountain. Zelda was by all accounts a WILDER Daisy Buchanan..in fact, when they had their daughter, at age 21, Zelda stated: “I hope she grows up to be a beautiful, little fool”…where is that line from?? Let’s all say it together…! Zelda had an affair with a French aviator, Fitzgerald unwillingly encouraged it long enough, to be inspired to write an affair scene into The Great Gatsby, then put Zelda under virtual, house arrest to rid her of the infatuation. These scenarios keep going on, throughout their marriage. Zelda throwing diamonds out of windows, throwing herself into dreams of becoming a professional, ballerina (which she was VERY good at), and throwing herself down a flight of stairs.. (Yikes!). Fitzgerald’s alcoholism increased with his accolades and the couple began to blame each other, for the bad things. Zelda grew to despise her husband. After her first breakdown, Zelda went into a sanitarium. She began writing an auto-biography, seeking an artistic identity..or ANY identity of her own. As I stated, she was still an over-indulged, woman-child and believed it, herself: “I don’t seem to know anything appropriate for a person of 30”. “Save Me the Waltz”, was published, in 1932. Scott was furious she had divulged intimate details of their personal, life in her OWN book. Scott retorted with his book about their failing marriage, “Tender is the Night”, published in, 1934. Of course, the two dueling books heavily, contrasted each other! In 1936, Scott started a relationship with Sheila Graham while trying his hand at, screenwriting and Zelda checked into a mental hospital, in Asheville, NC. Scott died in 1940. He only saw Zelda, his heroine, one last time..a year and a half, earlier. Zelda perished in a fire at a mental hospital, as she was working on her second novel. She is still considered the emblem of The Jazz Age, The Roaring 20’s, and as her husband called her: “The First American Flapper”. Yes, she was troubled and yes, she was fabulous. Zelda Fitzgerald was the inspiration for some of the best classic, most beloved, American fiction.

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