Belasco, David


Belasco, David
(1853-1931)
   Born David Valasco in San Francisco, he learned theatre as a child, frequenting Maguire's and other theatres there. When the stars toured to San Francisco, young Belasco would find a spot in the company, and thus at age 11 he played the Duke of York to Charles Kean's Richard III, followed by stints with Edwin Booth, John McCullough, and other notables. He moved up from call-boy to prompter to assistant stage manager, while performing at every opportunity, including imitations of the stars before audiences of gold miners. However, two playwrights—Dion Boucicault and James A. Herne—gave Belasco his breakthrough opportunities. With Herne, Belasco coauthored Hearts of Oak (1880) and directed it, which led to his move to New York in 1882. Belasco became stage manager and resident dramatist of the Madison Square Theatre for a time in 1882. Two years later, he took over similar duties at Daniel Frohman's Lyceum Theatre, where he directed and collaborated on writing as many as 35 plays before his first solo success, May Blossom (1884).
   Between the 1880s and the 1920s, Belasco was recognized as one of the most influential and prolific producers, directors, and playwrights of the American stage. He relished being dubbed the "Bishop of Broadway" (due, in part, to his habit of wearing clerical garb). Known for flashes of temperament, Belasco frequently threw his watch to the ground and crushed it to make a point, but associates later revealed that he kept a stock of inexpensive watches for this purpose. George Abbott acted in Belasco's production of Daddies and recalled the watch gambit in his memoir "Mister Abbott" (1963, 95). Abbott commented further that Belasco "had developed most of the great female stars of the previous decade. He had created a legend about himself; to work under Belasco was the ambition of any actor, and for someone like me, who aspired to direct and to write, it was a stroke of good fortune beyond any hopes" (93). Belasco was both admired and criticized for the ultrarealism of his productions, which, in one case, included brewing real coffee and making pancakes onstage for a restaurant scene. In 1907, Belasco built the Stuyvesant Theatre, later renamed the Belasco. He kept this and his other venue, the Republic Theatre, in continual operation. He continued producing plays until his retirement in 1930, but his influence waned after World War I since the plays he wrote and produced were declining in popularity as a new generation of writers led by Eugene O'Neill began to dominate American drama.
   Most of Belasco's plays were collaborations with Henry C. DeMille, including The Wife (1887), Lord Chumley (1888), The Charity Ball (1889), and Men and Women (1890). In 1888, Belasco directed Sophocles' Electra for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, noted for its trailblazing use of a simple, stark setting. He had a success with The Girl I Left Behind Me (1893), written in collaboration with Franklin Fyles. With The Heart of Maryland (1895), he produced a long string of successful plays he wrote or coauthored (often with Charles Klein or John Luther Long), including Zaza (1899), Naughty Anthony (1900), Madame Butterfly (1900), Under Two Flags (1901), The Auctioneer (1901), Du Barry (1901), The Darling of the Gods (1902), Sweet Kitty Bel-lairs (1903), Adrea (1905), The Girl of the Golden West (1905), The Rose of the Rancho (1906), A Grand Army Man (1907), The Return of Peter Grimm (1911), The Governor's Lady (1912), and The Son-Daughter (1919). Belasco also produced plays written by others, including The Music Master (1904), The Fighting Hope (1908), The Easiest Way (1909), The Woman (1911), The Boomerang (1915), Polly with a Past (1917), Tiger Rose (1917), Daddies (1918), and Lulu Belle (1926).

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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  • BELASCO, DAVID — (1859–1931), U.S. theatrical producer and playwright. Born in San Francisco, Belasco came from a Portuguese Jewish family named Valasco. He was educated in a monastery, which may have accounted for the way he dressed later in life, a free flowing …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Belasco, David — born July 25, 1853, San Francisco, Calif., U.S. died May 14, 1931, New York, N.Y. U.S. theatrical producer and playwright. He acted with traveling companies before becoming a theatre manager, first in San Francisco and later in New York City… …   Universalium

  • Belasco,David — Be·las·co (bə lăsʹkō), David. 1853 1931. American playwright and theatrical producer known for his realistic stage settings and innovative lighting effects. Among his productions were Madame Butterfly (1900) and Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1923). * * * …   Universalium

  • Belasco, David — (25 jul. 1853, San Francisco, Cal., EE.UU.–14 may. 1931, Nueva York, N.Y.). Productor teatral y dramaturgo estadounidense. Actuó en compañías itinerantes antes de dedicarse a la producción teatral, primero en San Francisco, y desde 1880 en Nueva… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • David Belasco — est un dramaturge, directeur et acteur de théâtre, né à San Francisco (Californie) le 25 juillet 1853 et mort le 14 mai 1931 à l âge de 77 ans à New York, où il est enterré. Sommaire …   Wikipédia en Français

  • David Belasco — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda David Belasco David Belasco Nombre real David Belasco Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • David Belasco — (* 25. Juli 1853 in San Francisco, Kalifornien; † 14. Mai 1931 in New York City) war ein US amerikanischer Dramatiker, Regisseur und Theaterproduzent. Belasco wurde als Sohn jüdischer Einwandere …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Belasco — David Belasco (* 25. Juli 1853 in San Francisco, Kalifornien; † 14. Mai 1931 in New York City) war ein US amerikanischer Dramatiker, Regisseur und Theaterproduzent. Belasco wurde als Sohn jüdischer Einwanderer geboren, die während des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • David — (rey de Israel) V. «lágrimas de David». * * * David. □ V. estrella de David, lágrimas de David. * * * Esta página se refiere al rey bíblico de Israel. Para otros significados del término véase David (desambiguación). David (דָּוִד Amado ) fue el… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • David Belasco — Disambiguation: Also the name of his uncle, David James (actor). David Belasco Between 1898 and 1916. Born July 25, 1853(1853 07 25) Sa …   Wikipedia


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