Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Goodnight, Olive."

In honor of Halloween, I've decided to report on a ghostly showgirl that seems to have taken up residence at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street. Normally, you'd go there to see Mary Poppins. But, on some nights ... the ghost of Olive Thomas is the main attraction.

The story comes to us courtesy of NY1 where Shazia Khan reports on the siting Miss Thomas:
"When the ushers arrived, the woman got up and walked towards the stock room and just disappeared. There's no window or door and no one could explain what had happened," says theater manager Jon Loiacono.

Numerous sightings of a lady prompted theater officials to do some research. The apparition was identified as Olive Thomas, an actress from the
Ziegfeld Follies who also performed in a racy revue at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

"There's one playbill with Olive on it where she's actually smoking a cigarette, which for 1915 was very scandalous, to have a woman smoking a cigarette," says Dana Amendola, New Amsterdam Theatre's vice president of operations.

But in 1920, Thomas's life was cut short when she accidentally took mercury bichloride. She was only 26 years old.

"Many times she is seen with this blue bottle and we are speculating this might have been the bottle that held the poison," says Amendola.

"The New Amsterdam Theatre was the love of her life and it was home to her, and I think she misses it," says Loiacono.

When Disney took over the theater and renovated it in the 1990s, a space was dedicated to Olive.

"When
Lion King came in, we had the surviving Ziegfeld Girls come back to dance on the stage. Their average age was 100 years old. We filmed that. Later on that evening, all the props began to shake violently onstage," says Amendola. "Our chief carpenter turned off the lights and said, 'Goodnight, Olive,' and calmly walked out the door. Ever since that day we have a photograph of Olive at both entrances, so when the staff leave at night they can say goodnight to Olive."


Links:

For the full text of the story and some bonus video, visit NY1.com.

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