University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections

Maxine Mesinger Papers, 1965-2001

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Mesinger, Maxine
Title: Maxine Mesinger Papers,
Dates: 1965-2001
Abstract: Maxine Mesinger was a social columnist for the Houston Chronicle from the years 1965 to 2000. The collection contains clippings of Mesinger's work for the paper as well as photographs, correspondence, memorabilia and audiotapes.
Identification: 2002-002
Quantity: 5 linear feet; 6 boxes
Repository: Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

Historical Note

Maxine Mesinger (1925-2001), author of the social column, "Big City Beat" for the Houston Chronicle from 1964 to 2000. Born in Houston in 1925 to Ella and Julian "Drake" David, Mesinger graduated from San Jacinto High School and attended Texas Women's University, Indiana University, and University of Houston. She married Emil Mesinger in 1944; they have two children, Julianne and Jay.

After a short career in Houston television, Mesinger was hired as a columnist for the Houston Chronicle in 1964. Known for her lively writing style (she coined terms such as "swankienda" and "playcation") and candid access to Houston society, Mesinger's columns intersected with her own life in her famed friendships with notables such as Frank Sinatra, Barbara Walters, Carol Channing, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli and Shirley MacLaine. Known as "Miss Moonlight", she covered local events as well as happenings on the national scale. Her columns trace Houston's economic and political growth through the lens of an at times outrageous society life. Her Houston Chronicle obituary summarized this by stating "Mesinger watched Houston grow from a dusty cowtown to a sophisticated international city."

Scope and Contents

Clippings spanning the run of Messinger's "Big City Beat" column make up the bulk of this collection. The collection contains photographs documenting Mesinger's social life, friends and family, a small amount of correspondence from family and friends, and two audiotapes.


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use Restrictions

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian.

Index Terms

Terms are either Library of Congress Subject Headings or taken from local sources.


Houston (Tex.) -- Social life and customs.

Subjects (Persons)

Mesinger, Maxine



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Maxine Mesinger Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries


Donation of Emil Mesinger, 2002

Processed by

Amelia Abreu, 2006

Detailed Description of the Collection


1-3 "Big City Beat" Clippings, 1965-2000
1 1965-1973
2 1974-1989
3 1990-2000
4-6 Photographs, ca.1970-2001 and undated
6 Memorabilia, undated
"Betty White", undated
"Joan Rivers tribute to Maxine Mesinger ", undated