Jay Gatsby (1890-1922), born James Gatz, was an American bootlegger and decorated World War I veteran. He became a multi-millionaire during the Prohibition era, and he held lavish parties at his West Egg, Long Island mansion during the Roaring Twenties, inviting all of New York City's elite to his parties. He was the victim of a murder-suicide in 1922 when George B. Wilson, who wrongly believed that Gatsby had killed his wife in a car accident, killed him at his mansion's pool before shooting himself.
James Gatz was born in 1890 in North Dakota to dirt-poor farmers, Henry C. Gatz and his wife. James was forced to work as a janitor to support his education at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, which he dropped out of in the first few weeks of school. He met copper tycoon Dan Cody at Lake Superior and became friends with him, joining him on his 10-year yacht journeys and changing his name to "Jay Gatsby" at the age of 17 in 1907. From 1907 to 1912 he learned the ways of the wealthy and was left $25,000 in Cody's will, but Cody's mistress cheated him out of the inheritance. In 1917, Gatsby joined the US Army during World War I, and while he was training as a soldier he met the debutante Daisy Fay, a wealthy woman of a family from Louisville. However, he was sent with the US 16th Infantry Regiment to France and fought at the Second Battle of the Marne and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. At the latter battle, Gatsby commanded a squad of 160 troops with 14 Lewis machine-guns far ahead of the other Allied positions, and three German divisions were held off under Gatsby's command. As a reward, every one of the Entente Powers, even including the tiny country of Montenegro, gave Gatsby their military achievement medals (in Montenegro's case, the Orderi di Danilo) and he was promoted to Major. After the war's end in 1918, he attended Trinity College in Oxford, United Kingdom, but his life was changed when Daisy Fay wrote him a letter informing him that she married the wealthy Tom Buchanan in New York City. Gatsby decided that he would achieve his goal of having her as his wife by becoming a wealthy man and fitting into high society.
He returned home during the Roaring Twenties, and he became a bootlegger in hopes of amassing enough wealth to become an upper class citizen. He was connected to gangsters such as Arnold Rothstein, who fixed the 1919 World Series in the "Black Sox scandal". He bought a mansion in western Long Island with the fortune that he gained from his criminal enterprise, and he hosted parties every weekend. Due to his wealth, Gatsby was the subject of several rumors, including that he was the nephew of eather Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany or Paul von Hindenburg as well as that he was a German spy. Gatsby lived next to the bonds salesman Nick Carraway, the cousin of Daisy Fay, and he met Daisy, who was unhappy with her marriage. In an expensive hotel suite at the Park Hotel in Manhattan, Gatsby argued with Tom Buchanan and insisted that Daisy only married Tom for his money, and Daisy drove Gatsby out of New York City while Carraway, Daisy's friend Jordan Baker, and Buchanan drove away in another car. Daisy accidentally hit Myrtle Wilson with her yellow Rolls-Royce car when Myrtle ran into the road, believing that Buchanan was coming to pick her up (Buchanan had borrowed the car to drive into the city earlier). Gatsby promised Daisy that he would take the blame if they were caught, but Buchanan used this to get revenge by telling Myrtle's husband George B. Wilson that it was Gatsby who ran her over. George headed to Gatsby's house and shot him dead before shooting himself, and Gatsby's body was found in the swimming pool. Only one party guest attended his funeral, while Nick Carraway deduced that he was the only man who really cared about Gatsby.