Tag: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Trailer from the 1926 Adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’

This trailer is the only surviving footage from the 1926 adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The film itself is lost. It’s of particular interest because Fitzgerald lived on the Sunset Strip for several years, at the Garden of Allah Hotel for a while and later, in the months before his death, in an apartment nearby. The film was directed by Herb Brenon, who also directed “War Brides,” the first film starring Alla Nazimova, who later founded the Garden of Allah. And it features an early performance by William Powell, who was later a regular at the pool of the Garden of Allah, along with his wife, Carol Lombard.

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The Garden of Allah, by Sheilah Graham

Sheilah Graham’s The Garden of Allah, a history of the famed hotel that anchored the eastern end of the Sunset Strip, is a must for any reading list on the history of Hollywood’s golden age in general and the Strip specifically. Graham unfolds the story of the hotel in roughly chronological order, but she was a gossip columnist, so the book reads like a series of columns, many of which focus on gossip and anecdotes (a number of which involve society people who are long forgotten) — rather than a comprehensive history of the hotel.

Kirkus Review:

More Hollywood gossip glorified by all the beautiful people that were, and since columnist Graham is usually just grateful to have known them all, she rarely indulges in tit for tattletale. The Garden of Allah, originally Alla Nazimova’s home, was converted into the main house (you were nobody if you stayed there) and twenty-five villas back in 1926. It seems to have offered opulence, poor maid service, late afternoon and all night festivities and an open “”liquor closet.”” It would be hard to say whether anyone has been left out of the hotel register–it would seem not–but Miss Graham concentrates on that benign presence, Robert Benchley (two chapters), one of course on “Scott” [Fitzgerald] who didn’t really belong there, a less kindly inset on Dorothy Parker, with later comers Bogart, Sinatra, Faulkner, etc. closing the book before the Garden of Allah became just a residence for hookers and a tatty specter of its former self. The book will be illustrated and it will be read even if much of it is a reprise from what’s around in the public domain.

The Garden of Allah was published in 1970 and is out of print, but used hardbacks are widely available, including from Alibris.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald Dies in Sheilah Graham’s Apartment on Hayworth

F. Scott Fitzgerald

On the surface of it, it seems strange that F. Scott Fitzgerald died in an apartment off the Sunset Strip. But on Dec. 21, 1940, the shortest day of the year, Scott suffered a fatal heart attack in the apartment of the British-born gossip columnist, Sheilah Graham, at 1443 N. Hayworth Ave. [map], just south of Sunset Blvd.

What makes it strange is that, in his prime years, Scott and his wife Zelda were such a part of the East Coast literary set and were so closely associated with the Lost Generation of American exiles living in Paris during the 1920s — along with Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas — that, had his life played out like the plot of his novels, by rights he should have died in Greenwich Village or a Parisian garret.

But he died in Hollywood, in Miss Graham’s apartment — a fact which proved to be awkward, given the tenor of the times, because Scott and Sheilah had been in love and sharing digs for three years, even though Zelda Fitzgerald was still very much alive, though institutionalized with mental illness — and Zelda and Scott were still very much married.

F. Scott Fitzgerald came to Hollywood for the same reason many of his East Coast literary colleagues did. He was strapped for cash. In fact, his arrival in 1931 was his second run at success in the Movie Colony. He’d brought Zelda with him in 1927 when had been invited out to work on script for Constance Talmadge. United Artists rejected the script, however, and the Fitzgeralds returned east.

It was then that Zelda was diagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized in a sanitarium outside Asheville, N.C. Scott returned to Hollywood. In 1937, he moved into Villa #1 at the Garden of Allah Hotel. It was there that he worked on the script for the Rita Hayworth vehicle, “Red-Headed Woman.”

“He is famous even in Hollywood, where his meteoric arrivals and departures are discussed in film circles as avidly as they discuss themselves,” wrote Dorothy Spear in a 1933 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

In “A Taste of Hemlock,” published in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 19, 1965, Joseph Scott III described the Garden of Allah’s role as the epicenter for the movie colony’s cultural elite:

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