Editor's note: The following text was rekeyed and reprinted on July 26, 2004 in Resource Library Magazine with permission of Arcade Publishing. The text comprises Chapter 13, (pp 199-215) of Part IV "Creative Voices, January 1927-1929" and accompanying notes (pp. 433-435) of the book titled Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise, by Sally Cline. ISBN: 1559706880. We wish to extend our appreciation to Casey Ebro of Arcade Publishing in connection with this reprinting. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, or if you have interest in obtaining a copy of the book, please contact Arcade Publishing at this phone number or web address:



 

From the publisher's description of Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise:

According to legend, Zelda Fitzgerald was the mythical American Dream Girl of the Roaring Twenties. She was the archetypal Southern belle who became the "first American flapper," in the words of her husband, the quintessential novelist of the period, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Their romance coincided with the glamour and spectacle of the Jazz Age, and legend has it that when Zelda cracked up, not long after the stock market crash of 1929, Scott remained loyal to her despite her frequent later breakdowns and final madness.
 
Six years in the making, this powerful biography is the first on Zelda in more than thirty years. In it, Sally Cline presents a far more complex and controversial portrait, and an analysis of the Fitzgeralds' marriage very different from what we have been told so far. The Zelda Cline reveals was a serious artist: a painter of extraordinary and disturbing vision, a talented dancer, and a witty and dazzlingly original writer whose words and work Scott used in his own novels-often verbatim but never acknowledged. When she moved into what Scott felt was his literary territory, he tried to stifle her voice. (right: front dustcover of Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise)

 

 

Chapter 13

 

Nineteen twenty-seven started modestly. Though in an immodest place: Hollywood, home of stars, melodrama and, if you were lucky, mighty big bucks.

It was the lure of the bucks that tempted Scott when United Artists invited him to Los Angeles to write an original flapper comedy for Constance Talmadge. They offered an advance of $3,500 and a further $12,000 if they accepted his script.

Zelda and Scott left Scottie and her nanny with Scott's parents, who now lived in Washington and were nearer than Zelda's parents. They travelled west on the Twentieth Century Limited train, where Zelda's painter's eye took in 'the red and purple streaks of a Western dark' and later described the landscape feather-stitching along the tracks. She saw 'a green and brown hill, a precipitate tunnel. . . an odd gate, a lamppost; and a little lead dog', trees and houses on green mountains that 'seemed on probation'. [1] Hollywood itself, as they approached, appeared provisional.

'We reached California in time for an earthquake. . .' she wrote. 'White roses swung luminous in the mist from a trellis outside the Ambassador windows; a bright exaggerated parrot droned incomprehensible shouts in an aquamarine pool. . . geraniums underscored the discipline of the California flora.' [2]

From their luxurious bungalow on the hotel's grounds, Zelda wrote constantly to five-year-old Scottie, illustrating notes with drawings of Hollywood events or memories of her darling 'Boo Boo'.[3] Boo Boo bounces on her head in a tutu, legs high. Zelda's and Scottie's heads peep through a heart while the word 'love' spirals the drawing. Boo Boo is lost in the woods, hanging soulfully onto a tree. Sometimes she draws 'love' with wings flying towards Scottie thousands of miles away.

Like her winged affection, Zelda's letters and drawings flowed. January 1927: 'Dearest Darlingest Little Boo Boo. . . It is so hot here . . . even Daddy sleeps under one blanket. . . It is the most beautiful country. . . Eucalyptus and Poinsettias grow as tall as trees. . . this is . . . the biggest and most beautiful hotel that I have ever seen. . . John Barrymore lives next door and Pola Negri across the way.' As well as the 'two leading vamps of the cinema', other neighbours were Zelda's friend Carl Van Vechten and Scott's friend from Rome Carmel Myers.

Late January 1927: 'Dear dearest Little Boo Boo, Mummy is sitting out here without a coat in the most glorious sunshine. . . wishing you were here. . . I would love to show you the lovely red and blue parrot on the terrace. . . If you were here you would not like the little pool because it's very shallow and not for people who can swim so beautifully, like you. You and I could go in the big one.'

Hollywood, she told Scottie, 'is not gay like the magazines say but very quiet. The stars almost never go out in public and every place closes at midnight. . . Daddy let me buy a very very pretty black suit that makes me look very proud and prosperous. . . [but] I am crazy to get back East. . . I want so badly to see my Boo-Boo. . . write to me, you old lazy bones.'

Scottie, however, did not write for several weeks. But still Zelda's letters poured out. After mixing daily with film celebrities, among whom Ronald Colman particularly impressed her, a wave of inferiority swept over her: 'Everybody here is very clever and can nearly all dance and sing and play and I feel very stupid.'

Zelda became skeptical about Hollywood's improbability: 'At first,' she told Scottie, 'it was very lovely and impressive, but. . . everything is on the surface and we soon began to feel there was nothing here but decorations. . . ' Hollywood was peddling fake fun and implausible dreams, but Zelda did not buy them. The more she missed Scottie, the more unrealistically demanding became her letters.

By February Zelda, having been 'properly moved by the fragility of Lillian Gish', having 'dined at Pickfair to marvel at Mary Pickford's dynamic subjugation of life', [4] still pined for Scottie's answer. '1 am as cross as a bear and two elephants, a crocodile, a lizard and a kangaroo with you for never writing to me - I do not believe you know how to write.'

Zelda told Scottie Scott's movie about a prison was 'very good' but that The Great Gatsby movie, which they watched, was 'ROTTEN and awful and terrible.' Zelda was nostalgic for Paris in the spring. '1 am very homesick for the pink lights and the trees and the gay streets. . . But most of all we are very lonesome for you.'

Scottie managed two letters to Zelda, who instantly responded: 'It was more fun to read them than eating or diving or having a new dress. . . Lady Diana Manners. . . is out here now playing in the theatre. . . we are going to have dinner with her Saturday if Daddy ever ever ever finishes his work.' Scott was finding scriptwriting tougher than he'd imagined. It would take him two months to complete the assignment. '[Daddy] says he will never write another picture because it is too hard, but I do not think writers mean what they say about their work.'

Zelda worried about her daughter. 'Please, nanny, write me if everything is all right - if you and Scottie are comfortable and happy. I'm in a panic, I want to get home and start house-hunting so bad. . . I am crazy to own a house. I want you to have a lovely little Japanese room with pink cherry blossoms.'

Zelda filled a scrapbook with pictures of houses. But her panic did not solely arise from homesickness.

The Fitzgeralds had met Lois Moran, a seventeen-year-old actress, at a luncheon given for them by Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. [5] Scott was captivated immediately by Lois's innocence, intelligence, beauty and self-discipline. Zelda said sardonically that Lois's appeal to Scott was that of a 'young actress [who is] like a breakfast food that many men identified with whatever they missed from life'. [6]

Though Scott never visited Lois unless her mother was in attendance, nevertheless they met frequently. Zelda resented Scott's escalating admiration for Lois while Scott began to compare Zelda adversely with the starlet. Finally, something in Scott burst and he told Zelda he respected Lois because at least she did something with herself which required effort as well as talent. Underneath her Southern courtesy to Lois, Zelda was furious. Had Scott not noticed her own efforts with her writing and painting? Had he not recognized how little space he gave her to concentrate her attention on her own work rather than his? She was acute enough to perceive that Scott's anger with her partly reflected his frustration that after two years abroad he had less money than when they set out and his novel was still unfinished.

One evening when Scott left to dine with Lois, Zelda, unable to contain her distress and fury, in a fit of violence burned in the bath all the clothes she had herself designed. [7] It was an extraordinary gesture, as self-destructive as those she had made the previous year on the Riviera, but this time she savaged something she had already achieved. Over the years this frenzied act of burning would gain in symbolic significance as it became merely the first of several acts of destruction by fire.

Zelda's jealous anger and Scott's barely-concealed resentment were the undercurrents to a series of wild pranks they engaged in. At a cocktail party to which Lois Moran invited them, Scott collected the guests' watches, bangles and rings and boiled them in tomato soup. At a party given by Goldwyn, to which nobody had invited them, Scott and Zelda gate-crashed, appearing at the street door on all fours barking like dogs. Once inside, Zelda, characteristically, stole upstairs to take a bath before joining the guests. When visiting William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon, Scott shocked his host by borrowing a brassiere from Zelda to clothe one of Hearst's nude garden statues.

While writing his screenplay, 'Lipstick', Scott quarrelled with Constance Talmadge, which probably injured its chances, for when it was finished in March it was rejected. Scott had to face the fact that more than his $3,500 advance had already been used up. The Fitzgeralds slunk back east, barely surviving a quarrel over Lois Moran on their journey. In a newspaper article, Moran had revealed she admired philosophers, adored bathing suits (as did Zelda) and her favourite authors were Frederick Nietzsche, Rupert Brooke and Scott Fitzgerald. [8] Patently Scott had spent time on his favourite pursuit: 're-educating' a young woman, giving her reading lists.

 

 

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