David Belasco

David Belasco
July 25, 1853 - May 14, 1931

"The Bishop Of Broadway"

A native of San Francisco, David Belasco literally worked his way from the bottom to become an important playwright, director and theatrical producer. His first involvement with the theatre involved routine, behind the scenes, tasks and chores. He would eventually earn the opportunity to work as stage manager.

In 1882, Daniel Frohman provided Belasco with a position at the Madison Square Theater, in New York, as a stage manager and playwright. He would follow Frohman to the Lyceum Theatre as stage manager and house playwright where he became good friends with Henry C. De Mille, father of the famous Hollywood legend. With several hit plays to his credit, he became an independent producer within a few years.

Part of David Belasco's legacy was his embrace of "naturalism" in his productions, even building an operational laundromat for a scene in one play. He was also innovative with stage lighting, usually abandoning the traditional footlights in favor of more realistic lighting methods.

David Belasco built the Stuyvesant Theatre, partly on his own designs, in 1907. At the time, the Stuyvesant was possibly the most technically advanced theatre in the world. It was renamed after him in 1910, and still remains in business at 111 West 44th Street in New York.

The Bishop Of Broadway, David Belasco, passed away on May 14, 1931 at the age of 77.

Random Notes:

* David Belasco is usually credited with giving Mary Pickford her stage name. She appeared in at least two of his productions, "The Warrens Of Virginia" (1907) and "A Good Little Devil" (1913). They reportedly remained good friends. He appeared with her, on film, in the screen adaptation of "A Good Little Devil" in 1914.