One quote that has stuck with me for years is “Be nice to people on your way up because you will meet the same people on your way down.” It is both funny and true, especially in Hollywood where Mizner was once a screenwriter. But before we get to Tinsel Town I recently discovered that Mizner was the one who created the line about being nice.
In order to know more about Mizner I went to Wiki to educate myself. He was more than a writer. Born in 1876 he and his brother Addison went to Alaska during the gold rush in 1897 and bilked miners in con games. In 1905 at the age of 29 he was broke, so married a wealthy widow worth millions. He must have been a charmer. I see a young Warren Beatty in the role. He also copied original masterpieces of art his wife had and sold them as originals.
He was also a playwright, a friend of Wyatt Earp, ran a hotel, managed fighters and fixed fights, and backed Sid Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood-the one with Hollywood stars feet and hand prints immortalized in concrete. His playwright career was slowed by “laziness and opium addiction.” So he and his brother went to Florida after Wilson was arrested for running an illegal gambling house. In Florida they conned wealthy men during the big land boom.
Then he found himself in Hollywood as a screenwriter for Warner Brothers. How many lives can a man have? While in Hollywood he opened the legendary restaurant, The Brown Derby, an eatery that was shaped exactly like a derby. And the food was good, but expensive as I recall. Speaking of Warner Brothers Mizner said, “Working for Warner Brothers is like fucking a porcupine: it’s a hundred pricks against one.” He didn’t think much of Hollywood or movie making. But then he didn’t like authority to begin with, or have you guessed that by now. “I have spent several years in Hollywood and I still think the movie heroes are in the audience.”
Other famous quotes I did not know came from him until I read Wiki are: “Stealing from one is plagiarism, stealing from many is research.” (Tip for writers). “I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.”
Mizner had an eventful life to say the least. So where is my movie? Please forward this blog to Martin Scorsese.