Eight Shows a week, thousands of audience members, and the ghosts of performers past both figuratively and literally. The New Amsterdam Theatre is the current home of Aladdin on Broadway, but it has a long history, and when Disney made the deal to buy the theatre it came with someone special. They soon found out that the theatre had a permanent tenant who went with the lease.
Her name is Olive Thomas, a once famous Zigfield Girl, and silent Screen actress who has resided at the New Amsterdam since her death in 1920.
Olive and her husband Jack Pickford were on their second honeymoon in Paris. The two had spent the night out drinking and partying, after which they returned to their room at the Ritz.
Olive found a blue bottle in the room she believed to be alcohol of some kind. She drank the contents hoping it would calm her nerves and help her to sleep. Instead, the bottle had contained Mercury Bi-chloride, poisoning the young starlet upon ingestion. She screamed and woke her husband in the next room.
Jack tried to induce vomiting to aid her but to no avail. Soon after she was taken to the nearby Neuilly Hospital. Olive laid in the hospital fading in and out of consciousness.
The toxins she ingested shut down her kidneys and ultimately led to her demise. Her funeral was held back in the United States at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York City.
Her death brought many rumors to surface about the real causes and if it may have had a more sinister creation. Ultimately the stories were put to bed due to many claims being based on an unhappy marriage. Friends of the couple had always described them as “the gayest, wildest brats who ever stirred the stardust of Broadway,” leading many to doubt anything more than mere accident.
The scandals caused by the death of Thomas along with the murder of William Desmond Taylor in 1922 and the drug-related death of Wallace Reid lead to the formation of morality clauses. These clauses were to set a moral guideline for film stars and the ability to dismiss them had they broken the terms.
Olive’s ghost has been seen for many years since her tragic accident. She appears partially faded in many areas of the famous theatre. She is said to be dressed in a green beaded dress along with matching headband and sash.
A workman spotted Olive twice wearing a sash with her name across it. The man had recognized her however from memories of her from his youth. He had seen her as one of the Ziegfeld girls.
The theater fell into disrepair in the 1970s until being purchased by the Disney Corporation in 1993. After 35 million in restorations, the theatre was returned to its former glory, and reports of Olive once again began to circulate. Several night watchmen began reporting to Dana Amendola, the man in charge of restorations, about a beautiful young woman appearing on the main stage and dressing rooms. One of the night watchmen said this about the apparition he witnessed, “The beads from her Follies dress, headpiece and sash sparkled in the glare.” He told the young woman she was not meant to be there and needed to leave. The watchmen claimed she then smiled turned and drifted straight through a solid wall. Olive has also been said to flirt with men saying things such as, “Hi fella and then would bat her eyes before disappearing.”
After Disney re-opened the theatre, she has been reportedly seen by multiple casts and crew members. These cast members now pay their respects to the portraits of Olive that currently reside in the theatre either wishing her goodnight or welcoming her to her home.