Has the Flapper Changed?
F. Scott Fitzgerald discusses the cinema descendants of the type he has made so well known
By Margaret Reid
From Motion Picture Magazine, no. 6, July 1927
The term “flapper” has become a generalization, meaning almost any femme between fifteen and twenty-five. Some five years ago it was a thing of distinction – indicating a neat bit of femininity, collegiate age, who rolled her stockings, chain-smoked, had a heavy “line,” mixed and drank a mean highball and radiated “It.”
The manner in which the title has come into such general usage is a little involved, but quite simple. A young man wrote a book. His heroine was one of the n. bits of f. referred to above. “Flapper” was her official classification. The young man’s book took the country by, as they say, storm. Girls – all the girls – read it. They read about the flapper’s department, methods and career. And with a nice simultaneousness they became, as nearly as their varied capabilities permitted, flappers. Thus the frequency of the term today. I hope you get my point.
The young man responsible for it all, after making clear – in his book – the folly of flappers’ ways, married the young person who had been the prototype for the character and started in to enjoy the royalties. The young man was F. Scott Fitzgerald, the book was This Side of Paradise, and the flapper’s name was Zelda. So about six years later they came to Hollywood and Mr. Fitzgerald wrote a screen story for Constance Talmadge. Only people dont call him Mr. They call him “Scotty.”
But we dont seem to be getting anywhere. The purpose of this discursion was to hear Mr. F. Scott (or Scotch) Fitzgerald’s opinion of the cinema descendants of his original brain-daughter, the Flapper.
It was with an admirable attempt to realize the seriousness of my mission that I went to his bungalow at the Ambassador. Consider, tho! By all literary standards he should have been a middle-aged gentleman with too much waist-line, too little hair and steel-rimmed spectacles. And I knew, from pictures in Vanity Fair and that instead he was probably the best-looking thing ever turned out of Princeton. Or even (in crescendo) Harvard – or Yale. Only it was Princeton. Add “It,” and the charming, vibrant, brilliant mind his work projects. My interest was perhaps a bit more than professional.