11. Henry Flagler. Co-founder of Standard Oil with J.D. Rockefeller in 1870 when he was 40, parsimonious Henry Flagler griped about paying the bill for a one-of-a-kind silver tea service but traveled in a luxurious private rail car. He built The Breakers, Palm Beach’s 5-star hotel that says about itself, “Once you stay, you’ll understand.” When a teenager, Flagler left Hopewell, New York, with 9¢ and a lucky French coin in his pocket. By the time he and his third wife Mary Lily moved into Whitehall, now a Palm Beach not-to-be-missed attraction opened to the public, he had left Standard and was on to new ventures like developing Florida by building a railroad dotted with his hotels extending from Jacksonville to Key West. Miami just missed being named Flagler City. Flagler almost single-handedly created Florida’s tourism and agriculture industries. Whitehall was a wedding gift to his wife & the Flagler’s summer home used only for a few weeks during “The Season.”
12. Jackie Gleason. Although he was born in Brooklyn, this actor/comedian whose long career was dominated by one iconic role, Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners, permanently moved his TV show to Florida in 1964 and lived in Hialeah for the rest of his life. Portly and a chain smoker, Gleason died in 1987 and is buried in Doral at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery. His 8,000 square feet Florida house is currently for sale at $2.4 million.
13. Dwight Gooden. During a 16 year baseball career (1984-2000) studded with accomplishment–Rookie of the Year, 3 time World Series Champ, etc.–Gooden was golden. However, those and subsequent years were trouble plagued. Born in Tampa, Florida in 1964, Gooden didn’t lose his Florida connection. In 2002 he was arrested in Tampa and charged with driving while intoxicated. In 2003 he was arrested for driving with a suspended license. In 2005 he punched a girlfriend after she threw a telephone at him. In 2005 he was stopped by Tampa police for driving erratically and drove off during questioning. Gooden famously chose prison over rehab and served time in Tampa’s Hillsborough County Jail getting out in 2006.
14. Debbie Harry. Miami born Harry is best known as singer/songwriter for Blondie (“Heart of Glass”), but she’s also had a notable, under-the-radar film career. Associated with more than 40 documentaries and regular features like Hairspray, Cop Land, and Videodrome, Harry has proved to be an adept actor. imdb.com lists 54 titles as actress for Harry. Her most recent album, Panic of Girls with Blondie, was released in 2011, and she’s currently on tour with them. Harry might be another candidate for the role of Norma Desmond. In October, 2012, just before the national election she was quoted as saying that she believes we’ve been invaded by aliens who have “reduced the intelligence level of the entire f…. country to cement.”
15. Ernest Hemingway. This writer lived in Key West, Florida, between 1931 and 1939. The house is still a landmark tourist attraction famous for its 6 & 7 toed cats (really). However, the cats weren’t Hemingway’s. He had peacocks. He wrote the Snows of Kilimanjaro in Florida. Hemingway said that living in Key West was like living in a foreign country, and he was right.