Paranormal Papers

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.

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History of New Amsterdam Theatre

This Broadway theatre 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.

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.

Cases

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

Olive Thomas was once a Ziegfried Follies chorus girl. In 1920 she was in Paris on her second honeymoon. One version of events is that she accidentally swallowed some of her husband’s pills and died as a result. The pills were mercury bichloride and he was taking them for his syphilis. Others believe Olive committed suicide.

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.

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 to not 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 ended up having to go to 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 were stunned into silence. There was no way the DVDs could have simply fallen over, let alone be catapulted across the room. Perhaps Olive took umbridge at 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 don’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.

In the media

Links

References

hauntedplaces.org, “New Amsterdam Theatre”, accessed September 08 2017,
playbill.com, “Did You Know Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre Has a Ghost?”, accessed September 08 2017,
broadway.com, “New Amsterdam Theatre – New York, NY”, accessed September 08 2017.

Julian Cheatle updated New Amsterdam Theatre on 18 Oct , 2017.

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