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Dorothy Parker and The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a classic American novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and first published in America in 1925, at the height of the Roaring Twenties. The book was a huge success.

At the time The Great Gatsby was published, Dorothy Parker, a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, was thirty-two years old, living and working in New York, collaborating with George S. Kaufman on the screenplay for the film “Business Is Business.” and is thinking about his second suicide attempt.

The main character of The Great Gatsby is Jay Gatsby, a World War I veteran who wanted to reunite with Daisy Buchannan, whom he lost five years ago. Coincidentally, Dorothy Rothschild Parker’s 1st husband, Edwin Pond Parker II, was also a World War I veteran whose heart was broken by his true love, Dottie. Edwin wanted his wife to move with him from New York to Connecticut. She decided divorce was okay. He kept Parker’s name.

Dorothy Parker’s “best friend” and nemesis, playwright Lillian Hellman, has published memoirs revealing that Dorothy had a brief affair with F. Scott Fitzgerald. Apart from The Great Gatsby, one will never know which of Fitzgerald’s writings were influenced by his friend and former lover.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Rothschild Parker had a lot in common. Both were celebrated and prolific authors who grew up in wealthy families. They attended private Catholic schools (although Dorothy’s father, Jacob Henry Rothschild, was Jewish). Both had a passion for writing and achieved early success. Both authors prospered financially during the depression era of the 1930s.

Both Dorothy and F. Scott enjoyed drinking to excess. Dorothy joked that she once attended Alcoholics Anonymous, but they wanted her to stop drinking immediately!

F. Scott and Dorothy both had stormy private lives. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and rushed to the hospital, which caught fire, killing her. Dorothy Parker’s 2nd and 3rd husbands, Allan Campbell (they were married twice), were bisexual and died in bed with her from a pill overdose.

During their lifetimes, both Parker and Fitzgerald wrote for the Saturday Evening Post and Esquire. Both were screenwriters in Hollywood, although Dorothy was successful in that field (she was nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing A Star Is Born ), Fitzgerald was not.

Ironically, the central character of The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby, rose from poverty to riches before his death. While both Dorothy Parker and F. Scott Fitzgerald went from wealth and success in their own lives to struggle before their deaths.

F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in 1940, at the age of 44, in the middle of writing his last novel, “The Last Tycoon’s Love.” Dorothy Parker attended his funeral… Dorothy Parker also died of a heart attack in 1967, aged 73, while writing her autobiography, “The Events Leading Up to the Tragedy”. Both writers left their manuscripts unfinished. However, Dorothy’s autobiography mysteriously disappeared after her death…

F. Scott Fitzgerald died believing that he was a failure because none of his writings came close to the success of The Great Gatsby. Dorothy Parker died almost penniless after being blacklisted in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era Commie Horror. Dorothy was once quoted as saying, “I will never amount to anything. That much is clear to me.”

Dorothy Parker’s life and struggles have been chronicled in movies, plays, and the author’s one-woman show, “Dorothy Parker’s Room Is Enough for Two.” The life of F. Scott Fitzgerald has also been presented in films – The Great Gatsby has been made into several feature films, including the most recent one starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Great Gatsby has become required reading for most American high school students in recent decades; so F. Scott Fitzgerald became a household name. As for Dorothy Parker, unfortunately many people today do not recognize who she is…

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