Haunted New York
by Laura Kusnyer, 10/26/2010
Photo: Malcolm Brown
111 W. 44th St., 212-239-6200, Midtown West, Manhattan
The next time you're standing outside the Belasco Theatre, look for the windows with the big metal covers on them, on the right side of the building. They mark the one-time apartment of oddball impresario David Belasco, the self-proclaimed Bishop of Broadway, who lived here until his death in 1931. True to his appellation, "Belasco would even wear a clerical collar," says Reagan Fletcher, former archivist for the Shubert Organization, which now owns the theater. "The apartment reflects that personality. It's all dark woods and nooks and crannies—sort of gothic looking. His phone booth looked like a church confessional." Actors, stagehands and doormen alike have reported spotting Belasco, who was a notorious ladies' man, in the balcony during shows; he appears there with a woman in blue at his side. "Supposedly, this showgirl fell down the elevator shaft," Fletcher continues. "You get all different versions," he says of the various ghost stories, but Fletcher remains unconvinced that the theater is haunted. "To me, it just creaks like an old building." The Belasco had a major renovation in 2010, and the apartment is still vacant. "We would all kill for that apartment," Fletcher says with a sinister chuckle.