Lester Cowan Film Producer

Lester Cowan Film Producer & Making Gatsby Great

Lester Cowan (b. Akron, 1 April ‘1906 – d. New York, 21 October ‘1990) was a critical figure in the history of film and literature and yet we were snubbed by Wikipedia-Establishment-Editors when we tried to create his page. Just like the Wikipedia pages we created for Susan de Vere and Elizabeth Trentham were butchered.
For Cowan, the first message from these prigs is that the entry is rejected outright because Cowan is deemed a nobody, even though he is already shown as a producer on various Wikipedia pages, where some have his name hyperlinked, which is of course a deadlink.
Later, to add insult to injury, another one of them informs that our Cowan entry will be deleted if we don’t finish his page, which of course is directly below the rejection message.
To confirm that the spiteful snub is only because the submission is from someone considered uncouth, remembering Wikipedia holds itself out to be democratic and non-discriminating, there is an Italian Wikipedia page for him.
Anyway, quite simply without Lester Cowan The Great Gatsby may not have become what many regard as the greatest novel of all time. You see when everyone else had given up on him Cowan kept an ailing F Scott Fitzgerald going, not just money, but restoring his self esteem, long enough to write one last novel and position himself ready for apotheosis smack in the middle of WWII. Dead author dynamics kick in. Edmund Wilson publishes forgotten Gatsby with The Last Tycoon (which as usual is really about Fitzgerald not Irving Thalberg – Robert de Niro as FSF in  Kazan’s film version). Back in focus it gets added to free books available for military GIs – its popularity with these plebs forces a review of Gatsby and the rest is history. But not good enough for wikestabeditors.

Lester Cowan with WC Fields, Mae West et al, daughter Scottie (far left) on the set with Errol Flynn, F Scott Fitzgerald.

Cowan went to work in ‘1928 for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where he wrote a book on the advent of sound films and was involved in the start of the Academy Awards.

Reference and Links

Fitzgerald’s Hollywood stint has always been treated as a failure by all sides. Yet it made him. The Cowan collaboration (a Gatsby stablemate, Babylon Revisited, gets things going [developed for a waning Shirley Temple, eventually filmed as The Last Time I Saw Paris with Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson as FSF] ) finally able to slough off the hack scriptwriter pretense, back to novelist – still the definitive work capturing (they thought he was drunk but he was still taking notes) the essence of Hollywood – able to transition with his boots on – pencil in hand, aptly writes his own eulogy — The Last Tycoon/Great Novelist.

How WWII Saved The Great Gatsby From Obscurity / Moldering Flop To Great American Novel. It was not totally chance, as F Scott Fitzgerald had clearly laid out his strategy years before, “My whole theory of writing I can sum up in one sentence: An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward.” (That’ the Mugsar’s way to go, too.)


*Where they belong: The aquisitiion of the F Scott Fitzgerald Papers
by Matthew J Bruccoli – Princeton Library Chronicle vol 1 No 1 1988 pdf


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