Sunday, June 19, 2011

Florida History: Whooping it up with Wilson, the other Mizner

By Jane Feehan     (Use search box at right or labels to find more "Florida history")

Palm Beach and Boca Raton bear the imprint of Addison Mizner’s distinctive architectural style, but few today know that his brother, Wilson (or Bill) Mizner (1876-1933) was recognized during the early 20th-century for his singular wit.

Be nice to people on the way up because you’ll meet them on the way down has been attributed to Bill Mizner, though some claim Walter Winchell said it. Another bon mot: Treat a whore like a lady and a lady like a whore.

Wilson Mizner also penned several plays. The Deep Purple, and The Grey Hound were among his successes. He was known as the life of the party … “wherever he went, he whooped it up,” wrote a columnist for the Palm Beach Post (April 23, 1933, p.8). 

He shared with brother Addison an exuberance for Boca Raton's prospects. Wilson was popular; many overlooked his shady dealings to promote the new resort town. For awhile the money flowed. But it ended for the brothers in late 1926, less than a year after they opened the Cloister Inn - the hotel that eventually became the splendid Boca Raton Hotel. The inn closed; land sales dropped and the boom popped like a balloon in the hot sun.

Wilson left for California to take solace in writing movie scripts. He died two months after Addison passed away in Palm Beach. A friend said of Wilson: When he died, the whole world must have stopped laughing.
(Palm Beach Post,April 23, 1933, p.8).
Kinney, Henry. Once Upon a Time: The legend of the Boca Raton Hotel. Boca Raton: Arvida Corporation, 1974.
Miami News, Mar. 30, 1936, p. 6.
1943 April 2, Milwaukee Journal, Famous Wisecracks From Wilson Mizner [From the New Yorker Magazine], Page 18, Column 6, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Google News Archive

Tags: Florida history, Boca Raton history, Addison Mizner

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