YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Books and Authors

Fitzgerald Confidante to Discuss Time Together

September 07, 1997|DENNIS McLELLAN

Frances Kroll Ring was only 20 when a Hollywood employment agency sent her to Encino, where F. Scott Fitzgerald was living and working in the guest house of actor Edward Everett Horton's estate.

The year was 1939, a time when the greatest literary meteor of the Jazz Age a decade earlier was attempting to rekindle the old flame.

For the last 20 months of Fitzgerald's life--as he struggled to complete his Hollywood novel, "The Last Tycoon"--Ring served as his secretary and personal assistant. She quickly became his friend and confidante, her $35-a-week job including typing his manuscripts, balancing his checkbook and secretly disposing of his empty gin bottles in a remote ravine.

Ring, now 78 and living in Beverly Hills, will recount her time with Fitzgerald--and other authors she has known--at the Manuscripts Fall Literary Lecture at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Newport Beach Public Library, 1000 Avocado Ave.

Ring has written two nonfiction books: "Against the Current: As I Remember F. Scott Fitzgerald" and "A Western Harvest: Gatherings of an Editor," a collection of anecdotes about, and stories by, Anais Nin, M.F.K. Fisher, Wallace Stegner, William Saroyan and other authors whose work Ring edited while she was at Westways magazine.

When Ring met the author of "The Great Gatsby" and "Tender Is the Night," his greatest successes were behind him.

"When I knew him in later years he continued to be an incredibly creative storyteller, still reaching for a dream ['The Last Tycoon'] despite his damaged life and financial hard times," Ring wrote in a piece for The Times several years ago.

When Fitzgerald died of a heart attack at age 44 on Dec. 21, 1940--his Hollywood novel half finished--it was Ring who picked out the plain gray coffin he would be buried in, paying for it out of the $700 in cash her boss had left behind.

Admission to Ring's lecture, which is being presented by the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation, is $8 for foundation members, students and seniors, and $10 for all others. Preregistration is required: (714) 717-3890.

This Week:

* Poet Suzanne Lummis will read at 5 p.m. today at the FACT Gallery, 30812 Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

* Poets Barbara Wagner and her son Mark will read at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Alta Coffee House & Roasting Co., 506 31st St., Newport Beach.

* Heike Hendler, author of "Stories of True Love," will speak and sign at 7 p.m. Thursday at Barnes & Noble in Metro Point, 901 South Coast Drive, Costa Mesa.

* Ray Bradbury will sign his new collection of short fiction, "Driving Blind," at 3 p.m. Saturday at Borders Books and Music, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

* Mission Viejo cartoonist Kevin Fagan will discuss cartooning and sign copies of his latest collection of cartoons, "Son of Drabble," at 7 p.m. Saturday at Borders Books and Music, 429 Associated Road, Brea.

Send information about book-related events at least 10 days before event to: Dennis McLellan, O.C. Books & Authors, Life & Style, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

Los Angeles Times Articles