F. Scott Fitzgerald

Words by Theodora Sutcliffe

First name(s): F. Scott
Last/Family name: Fitzgerald
Originally from: St. Paul, Minnesota
Profession: Author
At: Hollywood

So who was F. Scott Fitzgerald?
Author of four novels, including The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of the Jazz Age's greatest stars and is considered one of the finest writers of the twentieth century. With his wife, Zelda, at least until she was institutionalized, he was half of one of the 1920s' most glamorous couples. When he died, aged only 44, of a heart attack, he was struggling to make a living as a screenwriter.

What did he drink?
Fitzgerald preferred gin, which he believed could not be smelt on his breath. His favoured tipple was a Gin Rickey, though he also enjoyed the Bailey, created for his literary patron Gerald Murphy. In later years, he carried a hip flask of whiskey.

Where did he drink?
In Paris, at the Café Select, the Dingo bar and Les Deux Magots. In Maryland, he drank with the journalist H. L. Mencken at the Owl Bar of Baltimore's Belvedere Hotel. In his home town, St. Paul, Minnesota, he frequented the Commodore Hotel and University Club. In Hollywood, he enjoyed Chateau Marmont and failed at attempts to give up drinking in the Garden of Allah. In New York: the Plaza, the Algonquin and the 21 Club.

How did drinking change his life?
Alcohol, Ernest Hemingway opined, interfered with Fitzgerald's writing immensely, and alcoholism was a factor in his early death at just 44. Many believe he had been an alcoholic since college. Booze fuelled his passionate, but ultimately doomed relationship with Zelda. At the Colombe d'Or restaurant in St. Paul de Vence, near Nice, when the dancer Isadora Duncan flirtatiously introduced herself to Scott, Zelda stood up on her chair and leapt across the dining table and over a wall that led to a sheer, 200-feet drop. Fitzgerald went through rehab unsuccessfully on a number of occasions and had at least one alcohol-induced breakdown.

Any famous drinking buddies?
Fitzgerald met Hemingway in the Dingo bar in Paris in 1925, and the two men became firm friends, though the friendship was damaged irreparably when Hemingway referred to him in print as "poor Scott Fitzgerald". On the social circuit of 1920s Europe, he hung out with Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter and T. S. Eliot, among others. In Hollywood, as a screenwriter, he was close to Dorothy Parker, Aldous Huxley and Robert Benchley, and friends with Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn and Clark Gable.

Any drinking stories?
During their glory years, Scott and Zelda once jumped, fully clothed, into the fountain at the Plaza Hotel. But, by the end, there was little glamour in his drinking. The last time he saw her, they traveled to Cuba, where he tried to stop a cock fight and got badly beaten up. Tragically, a few days before his last, fatal heart attack, Scott was overcome with dizziness at a film premiere. He turned to his gossip columnist partner and remarked mournfully, "They think I'm drunk."