David Belasco was a Jewish American theatrical producer, impresario, director and playwright.
He was born on July 25, 1853, in San Francisco, California. At a young age, he began working at the Metropolitan Theatre
in San Francisco doing a variety of odd jobs, eventually earning the
right to serve as a stage manager. He made his debut as an actor when
he was eleven, playing a young prince in Charles Kean’s production
of Richard III. When Belasco was only twelve, he wrote his first
play, Jim Black or The Regulator’s Revenge.
In 1882, Belasco moved to New York City to become a
stage manager for the Madison Square Theatre. In 1893, Belasco wrote
his first real hit, The Girl I Left Behind Me. By 1985, he had
become a successful independent producer. During his career between
1884 and 1930, Belasco wrote, directed, or produced more than 100 Broadway
plays including The Hearth of Maryland (1895) and Madame Butterfly (1900). During the early 20th century, Belasco also began to produce
the works of other writers.
He is also recognized for creating stage sets on a
standard of naturalism, with attention to detail. Belasco was further
known for his innovative lighting techniques to set the mood. In 1902,
he opened the first Belasco Theatre in New York City, which instituted
many significant innovations in stage lighting. Although the second
Belasco Theatre in New York was built in 1907 as the Stuyvesant Theatre,
it was renamed after Belasco in 1910. There are also several other cities
in which Belasco Theatres existed, including in Los Angeles (1926) and
Belasco died on May 14, 1931, at the age of 77, in
New York City.
Sources: “David Belasco (1853 - 1931).” American
Jewish Desk Reference. NY: Random
House, 1999. pg. 347, Wikipedia