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Zelda Fitzgerald, The First American Flapper

September 21, 2018

Zelda Fitzgerald, The First American Flapper

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was born on July 24, 1900 in Montgomery, Alabama. She married F. Scott Fitzgerald in April, 1920, and was dubbed The First American Flapper, by him.

Born the youngest of six children, Zelda's mother named her daughter after a gypsy queen in a novel she had read. She favored baby Zelda and doted on her.

Zelda was a spirited young girl, and posed more of a challenge for her father. He was a successful associate justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Zelda described home life with her father, as "a living fortress" and clashed with him, often. He was frustrated with Zelda's antics, routinely calling her a 'hussy'. Even her friends didn't like to spend time at Zelda's house because of him, but Zelda wasn't the least bit intimidated.

Anything but dull, Zelda was a wild and unpredictable young woman, known for diving naked into fountains, smoking, drinking and staying out all night.

When World War One broke out, dozens of men suddenly flooded into the military camps near Zelda's home. She'd been asked to perform a ballet dance to entertain the infantry men, by her mom. She didn't want to, but she adored her mom and wouldn't disappoint her.  It was there that she caught the eye of a young officer, named F. Scott Fitzgerald. The two became inseparable, and began a 22 month-long courtship that ended in their marriage in New York City.

Scott's first published book, "This Side of Paradise" came from inspiration he received through Zelda's love letters, while he was away. Much of Scott's inspiration came from Zelda, and her diary, which he sometimes copied word for word. At 22 years old, Scott"s new book was a huge success.

Darlings of the Jazz Age, theirs was a tumultuous marriage, ravaged by jealousy, infidelity and competition.
Zelda had writing skills of her own, although Scott was quick to dismiss them. When she wrote "Save Me The Waltz", her only published book, Scott accused her of borrowing ideas from his book, "Tender Is The Night."
Zelda teased Scott, publicly, that he believed, 'plagiarism begins at home'.

When Zelda was in her late 20's, they were living in France. Many artists, including Ernest Hemingway, had re-located to Paris or The French Riviera to escape strict Prohibition laws at home. Alcohol became supremely popular, thanks to the federal, nation wide ban.

Zelda had always loved ballet, but it wasn't until their move to France that she decided she wanted to become a professional ballerina. She practiced everyday, incessantly, until she suffered a mental breakdown in 1930.

Zelda spent the 1930's and 40's in and out of mental institutions, keeping herself occupied by painting and writing. 

Zelda Fitzgerald Painting  
Zelda Fitzgerald's, "Fifth Ave" via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Diagnosed with schizophrenia, today one may argue she was more likely bipolar, suffering ongoing bouts of mania and depression.

Artistic genius and madness seem to frequently intertwine. It's been said that these restless souls create, in order to find escape.
Lucky are we, who are left with their gifts, but none of their torment.

Zelda was talented in so many ways. I've read that her pictures don't do her justice.
That there was a charisma to her that couldn't be captured and she was so much more beautiful in real life because of it.

She was outrageous, fearless and left an everlasting impression. She never let the ties that bind, immobilize her; even during a time in history when many other women did just that.
Most women gave up everything to serve their husbands. Zelda didn't sacrifice herself to F. Scott. Even in his long shadow, she kept on creating, and marching along to the beat of her own drummer. 

By the 1940's, her and Scott were living apart. She was writing a novel and living, off and on, at a mental hospital in North Carolina. A fire broke out in the hospital kitchen, and Zelda perished on March 10, 1948 along with 8 other women.

It was well-known that Zelda loved her desserts and was immortalized in 2013, by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.
Jeni launched a limited release of delicious ice cream flavors, that were as unique as their namesake. She called it The Super Limited Zelda Collection. And yes, the 1980's video game was also named after her.

Long Live The Legend of Zelda; The First American Flapper.




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