New Amsterdam Theatre
The New Amsterdam Theatre is a Broadway theatre in New York City, but apparently, it’s not just living actors who tread the boards there.
This Broadway theatre, the oldest still operating on Broadway, has long been renowned for paranormal activity and is home to one of the theatre world’s most active spirits.
The theatre was built by producers A. L. Erlanger and Marcus Claw in 1903 and was designed by architects Herts and Tallent.
Herts and Tallent were determined to build the most spectacular theatre in New York, and when it first opened, many thought they had succeeded. The building’s opulence and ornate furnishings led to the nickname, The Beautiful House.
With a capacity of 1702, it was the largest theatre on Broadway when it opened.
The Great Depression forced the theatre to close in 1930, and soon after, it was converted into a movie house.
In 1982 the Shubert Organization bought the property in a derelict condition. Sadly, it remained so until a court ruling gave the building to the city and state of New York. The Disney Company, under a new lease, then reopened the building in 1997 as a theatre.
The New Amsterdam Theatre, along with the Lyceum Theatre, is the oldest theatre on Broadway.
Staff have reported many supernatural experiences over the last hundred years or so. It is thought that they relate to the activity of the spirit of Olive Thomas.
Olive Thomas was once a Ziegfried Follies chorus girl. In 1920 she was in Paris on her second honeymoon. One version of events state that she accidentally swallowed some of her husband, actor Jack Pickford’s pills, and died as a result. The pills were mercury bichloride which he was taking for his syphilis. Others believe Olive committed suicide.
At the time, Olive’s death was seen as a major scandal that rocked the silent movie Hollywood era.
Olive’s ghost is said to haunt New Amsterdam Theatre. The story goes that you can see her walking around, clutching a blue pill bottle. She has also been seen gliding across the stage, blowing kisses to an invisible audience.
It seems that Olive appears mostly to men. If she appears to you, the best advice is to act calmly and be friendly so as not to upset her.
Nick, whose father used to work in the building, said his father used to tell him all kinds of stories about strange happenings. A young woman, presumably Olive, appeared to a guard in one of the dressing rooms. It is thought that the poor man had to go to a hospital because he was so shocked.
The elevator man said there was a bell that was used to summon the elevator. Sometimes, he would arrive at the appropriate floor to find the ghost waiting for him!
Dana Amendola, Vice President of Operations for Disney Theatrical Group, says that Olive has been very active in recent years.
Two stories particularly stand out. The first of these involves a group of Disney staff who were discussing the Oscar-winning film The Artist in an office in the theatre. They were wondering how many of the Ziegfried Follies stars went on to become film stars. One of them mentioned Olive Thomas, but another said that the real star of that era was Mary Pickford.
Well, as soon as that was uttered, a stack of a dozen DVDs flew across the room and hit a wall. The group was stunned into silence. There was no way the DVDs could have simply fallen over, let alone be catapulted across the room. Perhaps Olive was annoyed by their discussion?
The second story involves a mother who asked an usher for a booster seat for her child. The show had just started, and the staff didn’t like to interrupt performances, so they waited for the intermission. When an usher came along with a booster seat, the mother said she already had one.
The usher asked where the seat had come from and the mother said that a lady at the back of the theatre had gestured to where they were kept.
Amendola says this is very strange because they don’t have a member of staff at the back of the house in the middle of a show. The other members of staff swear they did not do it, so could this mystery lady have been Olive?
Ushers and overnight security staff have reported feeling a touch on their back. When they turn around to see who’s there, no one can be seen.
Olive is thought to be quite the mischievous attention seeker. In fact, in order to attempt to keep her mischief at bay, Amendola has put up pictures of Olive at all the entrances to the building; the staff blow a kiss or touch the picture frame as they walk past.
Got something to say about this case? Leave a comment or get in touch if you have new information or media you think we should add.
|Other Name/s||The Beautiful House|
|Address||214 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, United States|
Where to find
In the media
hauntedplaces.org, “New Amsterdam Theatre,” accessed September 8, 2017,
playbill.com, “Did You Know Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre Has a Ghost?,” accessed September 8, 2017,
broadway.com, “New Amsterdam Theatre – New York, NY,” accessed September 8, 2017.
Top image pic credit: @spotlightonbroadway5740/YouTube.
Last modified on April 13th, 2023 at 1:59 pm