Wilson Mizner (1876-1933)
Wilson Mizner was born in Benicia, California, one of eight children.
In 1897, Addison and Wilson, with brothers William and Edgar, travelled north to
the Alaska Gold Rush, which they spent bilking miners rather than looking for
Addison and Wilson fled Alaska for New York, where Addison opened a Fifth Avenue
shop where he sold Guatemalan relics and colonial-era furnishings at dramatic
markups. Wilson became a New York dilettante, raconteur, and Broadway
playwright. He married Mary Adelaide Yerkes, widow of industrialist Charles
Tyson Yerkes, in 1905: while Wilson was penniless (and 29 years old), his new
wife, aged 47, brought between $2 million and $7.5 million to the marriage, as
well as several artistic masterpieces that Wilson duplicated, selling the copies
as originals. The marriage did not last long.
Wilson's playwriting career was undermined by his laziness and an opium
addiction. He was arrested in 1919 for running a gambling den on Long Island.
Wilson returned to California and wrote screenplays for some of the early
talkies. His best known film work is the screenplay for the Michael Curtiz film
"20,000 Years in Sing Sing".
Wilson Mizner is noted for many bon mots.