The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and his flamboyant wife Zelda are often remembered as the embodiment of the boom and bust that convulsed America in the period between the two world wars.
Like characters in The Great Gatsby, Scott and Zelda lived lives of wild abandon in the Roaring Twenties, riding on top of taxi cabs and splashing in the Plaza Hotel fountain. Scott was inspired and prodded along in his dissipation by the notoriously eccentric Zelda. As Ring Lardner once put it, “Mr. Fitzgerald is a novelist and Mrs. Fitzgerald is a novelty.”
But by the time the stock market crashed in 1929, so too had the Fitzgeralds. Scott’s drinking caught up with him, and Zelda’s eccentricity evolved into schizophrenia. Their sad downfall is captured in Fitzgerald’s 1930 story, “Babylon Revisited.” Zelda would live the rest of her life in mental institutions while Scott spent his final years in Hollywood, struggling to pay for her treatment and trying to recapture his lost glory. Their daughter, Scottie, was raised by other people.
In this video we catch a few glimpses of the Fitzgeralds in their heyday, before the party came to an end. The film clips are fun to watch but the YouTube video on which they are collected should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt. We’re not sure, for example, that the clip purporting to show Zelda being “very lively in a street” is actually of her. It appears to show someone else. And one of the captions claims that Fitzgerald is pictured writing The Great Gatsby, but according to the University of South Carolina’s Fitzgerald Web site, the sentence he is writing on paper is: “Everybody has been predicting a bad end for the flapper, but I don’t think there is anything to worry about.”