Lynn Wyatt Spills (Only a Few of) Her Secrets

The beloved socialite, dedicated philanthropist, and champagne and popcorn connoisseur turns 88 this year.

By Daniel Renfrow March 3, 2023

Image: Devin Finch

It would be hard to find someone who has done more to increase Houston’s visibility across the globe than Lynn Wyatt, one of the city’s most beloved socialites, philanthropists, and all-around champions. Wyatt, a third-generation Texan, heir to the Sakowitz fortune, and wife of Texas oil magnate Oscar Wyatt, has a Rolodex that can compete with even the most seasoned of Hollywood celebs. Her close friends through the years include Sir Elton John, Andy Warhol, and Princess Grace of Monaco, and she’s hosted overnight guests at her homes such as Truman Capote, Mick Jagger, and Princess Margaret. 

While Wyatt is well known for the glamorous parties she has thrown through the years—both in Houston and at her villa in the south of France—her true gift is in the area of philanthropy. Over the years she’s both donated to and fundraised for organizations such as the Princess Grace Foundation; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Rothko Chapel; Alley Theatre; Houston Grand Opera; Houston Ballet; Star of Hope Mission (whose board she has served on for more than 40 years); and many more. 

Dubbed “the Best Little Socialite in Texas” by Vanity Fair and the “Socialite of the Century” by Texas Monthly, Wyatt is now 87, but she’s showing no signs of slowing down her philanthropic efforts. In 2019, she gifted the City of Houston $10 million to renovate Jones Plaza, which will reopen eventually as Lynn Wyatt Square for the Performing Arts. It’s an opening that she tells us she is very much looking forward to. 

We spoke with Wyatt recently about her long legacy in Houston and about how the city has changed through the years.

HOUSTONIA: How would you define Texas style?

Lynn Wyatt: Class with a bit of a sass, but never trash.

Of all of the celebrities you have hosted at your home through the years, who was the best house guest?

If I were to answer that I would sound like I was dropping names, and I’m not a name dropper.

You helped introduce Houston to a global audience. How would you say the city has changed through the years?

In my lifetime, Houston has evolved dramatically in pretty much every way, but, for me, one of the most profound changes is the tremendous growth of our arts and cultural scene. There used to be just a few small museums and theaters; today we have world-renowned institutions like the Menil Collection, the Wortham Center, and even the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, which celebrates the artist in everyone. It’s a hard question because the list is a mile long, but what I do know is that Houston has become a bucket list city for art lovers from around the world.

Despite its continuous rise as a global city, Houston is still frequently misunderstood by outsiders. How would you describe Houston to someone who has never been here? Your Houston elevator pitch, if you will.  

The greatest thing about Houston is its diversity and, when you factor in our can-do spirit, anything is possible.

You’ve hosted so many parties through the years. Can you give us some of your top tips on how to be a good host?

My best advice is to invite people from different walks of life. The best conversations always happen when worlds collide.  

People have marveled for years at your excellent health and high level of energy. What’s your secret to staying healthy and energetic at 87?

A steady diet of champagne and popcorn.

If someone you know was visiting Houston for the first time, and you were serving as their tour guide, what is the first place you would take them after stepping off the plane?

Rothko Chapel, and I’m not saying that because I’m listed on their letterhead as its official cultural ambassador. I’m saying that because there is no other city in the world that has a sacred art space like Rothko Chapel. 

You have a strong philanthropic history stretching back decades. What are some current charitable causes in Houston that are close to your heart?

When it comes to philanthropy, I’m a lifer, so I’m still involved with the same charitable causes that have always been close to my heart, like the Princess Grace Foundation; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Rothko Chapel; Alley Theatre; Houston Grand Opera; Houston Ballet; and Star of Hope Mission, whose board I’ve served on for more than 40 years. These days I’m particularly excited about that new Downtown city block that will become the new gateway to the Theater District. You might not know about it yet, but—shameless plug alert—you will when Lynn Wyatt Square opens this spring.

Looking back on your life, what are you most grateful for?

My family and my friends—no question. They are my most precious treasures now and forever.

When you think about your future, what are you most excited about or looking forward to the most? 

You mean other than the opening of Lynn Wyatt Square? Wink-wink. Actually, I’m most excited every morning when I wake up, and I’m still here!

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