Five Questions For…Ken LaZebnik on Los Angeles Magazine’s Culture Files Blog


What exactly got you interested in digging into the histories of icons like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paul Newman and Judy Garland?

There was always some personal connection, no matter how small, between myself and the iconic figures I wrote about. In the case of F. Scott Fitzgerald: I attended Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Fitzgerald grew up. As a college student, I’d go to the bar he frequented as a young man (and which remarkably had changed very little). When I moved to Los Angeles, I got on a Fitzgerald reading kick. I was reading a collection of his correspondence when I saw one of his letters marked with a return address on Amestoy Avenue. I realized I knew Amestoy Avenue very well—I drove by it all the time to my son’s baseball games. Digging deeper revealed that the Amestoy address was actually the estate of Edward Everett Horton, the actor who played all those butlers in the Astaire and Rogers films, and the shock that America’s great novelist was reduced to renting a cottage from the butler formed the heart of the essay. In the case of some of these other major figures, I’ve had the good fortune to meet people who knew them: George Schlatter was the first producer of The Judy Garland Show and he told me about that extraordinary experience. A friend of mine knew Paul Newman through their mutual work at Kenyon College. So my interest almost always began with a very personal, tiny peek into the celebrity’s life.”

For the full Q&A, click here: