Three Real Florida Society Scandals in Honor of Palm Royale

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Three Real Florida Society Scandals in Honor of Palm Royale

Apple TV+’s Palm Royale, now streaming, stars Kristen Wiig as a cartoonish social climber navigating a fictional 1969 Palm Beach society awash in Lilly Pulitzer pastels and soap-opera-ready plot twists. (Her husband was married to whom?! The resort bartender, played by Ricky Martin, is actually living where?!) 

The sudsy series, which also features Allison Janney, Leslie Bibb, Laura Dern, and Carol Burnett, is based on Juliet McDaniel’s 2018 novel, Mr. and Mrs. American Pie, which is set in Palm Springs, California, and Scottsdale, Arizona. When it came to Apple TV+’s series, though, Palm Royale creator Abe Sylvia swapped out those locations for the most exclusive enclave in Florida—a more unique visual experience for viewers, with its own steep history of society scandal. In anticipation of Wiig’s desperate hijinks as Maxine, let’s look back at a few of the more outlandish and forgotten scandals from South Florida’s most colorful real-life socialites.

The Murder of Candace Mossler’s Husband

Candace Mossler and her nephew, Melvin Lane Powers, smile as they show off an engagement ring given her by Powers. The photo was taken in 1967, three years after the death of Candace’s multi-millionaire husband Jacques Mossler.

By Bettmann/Getty Images.

In 1964, a wealthy blonde socialite named Candace Mossler was accused of plotting and carrying out—with Melvin Powers, her 22-year-old nephew and lover(!)—the murder of Candace’s husband, Jacques Mossler, with whom she shared six children. Jacques was a banker 25 years older than Candace. Candace was a vivacious party host with movie-star looks and a romantic history with Chuck Berry. 

In 1962, she agreed to let her nephew Melvin move into the family home in Houston so that he could rebuild his life after a 90-day jail stint. While in town, Melvin “underwent four operations, presumably at the behest of Candace,” reported Texas Monthly. “He was circumcised, his tonsils were removed, his ears were cosmetically adjusted to lie flatter against his head, and his face was sanded.” (The excellent investigative feature also notes that an autopsy of Melvin later revealed he had “‘a prosthetic device’ implanted in his ‘penile shaft,’” but there is no information to conclude when that procedure may have taken place.)

In 1964, Jacques was bludgeoned and stabbed to death in his oceanfront apartment in Key Biscayne after discovering that Candace and her nephew were having an affair. Candace suggested to reporters that Jacques was killed by a jealous male lover. But after police found love letters between Candace and Melvin, aunt and nephew stood trial in Miami for murdering Jacques in what prosecutors described as a conspiracy to get Jacques’s $33 million fortune. 

Shortly after Candace was acquitted of her husband’s murder, she kissed Melvin on the lips in a gold Cadillac outside the courthouse.

Candace and Melvin eventually parted ways—with Melvin becoming a flamboyant real estate developer in Houston who owned a huge yacht and was at one point worth $200 million. Candace married again—wedding an electrical contractor named Barnett Garrison in 1971. “A year later he fell from the roof of their 62‐room house early one morning under circumstances that were never fully explained,” reported The New York Times. 

The Pulitzer Divorce

Publishing heir Herbert ‘Peter’ Pulitzer avoids eye contact with his wife Roxanne Pulitzer as they wait for their bitter divorce trial to resume in 1982.

By Bettmann/Getty Images.

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