Phantoms of the Palace Theatre

On October 6, 1995 my mother visited the Palace Theatre in Times Square. The Palace is the famous Broadway theatre, which opened in 1913 and became the Mecca of “two-a-day” vaudeville. She came to the theatre at the request of some of her clients, many of the cast and crew members of the Disney production currently playing there - Beauty and the Beast. During several readings with her clients, the spirit of Judy Garland had tried to come through to communicate messages for her daughter from the Great Beyond. One client, it turned out, indeed, was a friend of Liza Minelli’s and could conceivably relay a message to her from her late mother. Once my mother arrived, however, what transpired there on the great stage where so many legendary performers had played for 82 years, was not exactly what anyone had expected.

Having earlier this year already revealed the “Ghost in Times Square” at the Sam Harris Theatre to be the great George M. Cohan, delivering his messages over the radio airwaves to all of New York City, my mother was quickly building her reputation as not only an incredibly effective exorcist, but also the trance medium through whom Broadway ghosts were just “dying” to communicate.

In order to understand the messages she brought forth and, in fact, to confirm some of the things she said, it was necessary for me to do a bit of research on the history of the Palace Theatre.

The Palace had its shaky opening in March of 1913, criticized by the show business trade press as well as most insiders. They all predicted its imminent doom to its owner, E.F. Albee, builder of great theatres and the dominating force in the history of the Palace. Key to the Palace story, Albee’s reign as czar outlasted many rivals, though his ambition and ruthless methods cost him friends and associates. He was William Morris’s foe and arch-enemy. Morris was against Albee’s monopolies and fought to increase actors’ rights. Albee was just the opposite and was very abusive toward the performers; his name, however, was synonymous with vaudeville and his power unmatched. By 1923, even though he had a black reputation, he governed the entertainment of approximately 4,000,000 people. But most people that knew him were aware that he “masked his treachery under a cloak of benevolence.” His interest turned to hatred, which he nurtured until his death. This one cruel man held the fate of so many performers in vaudeville/theatre in his very greedy hands. Could he have been the cause of all the pain that channeled through my mother that day? It is no small irony that she is now signed to the company founded by his arch-enemy, William Morris.

The Palace was the highest aspiration of so many performers all through the 20′s until it floundered to a halt on July 9, 1932 when the last straight vaudeville show played there. Then movies took over as the “trunks got dustier, stage door johnnies dwindled and backstage lights almost dimmed out forever in the twilight of show business as the old vaudevillians knew it.” When vaudeville faded, the Palace declined and started booking lesser-known talent and barely survived with a “film-and-vaudeville” policy; then, soon after, it was motion pictures only. The Palace’s glow died down until, like Sarah Bernhardt, (“one of the greatest actresses of all time, made the Palace bills successful and helped establish American vaudeville”) before her, Judy Garland brought back the “two-a-day” and revived the Palace resulting in one of the most memorable comebacks in Broadway history. She broke all records. “Since I was a kid, the one thing I’ve dreamed of was playing the Palace,” she tearfully told her audience.

My mother was led to the Palace Theatre perhaps by the spirit of Judy Garland, maybe by hosts of other spirits who have tried to return to complete unfinished business - to heal the pain of the lives they lived on earth. I can only imagine how let down these show people felt when vaudeville died. During the session on the stage of the theatre when my mom’s earthly body cried in agony, “There are too many of them!” as if to be in touch with the horrible pain of all those who had been before, I really believe I felt the presence of many small time vaudevillians who had never made the big time. She said she couldn’t recognize some of the 103 spirits that appeared before her behind a gate. (I thought their spirits probably remained at the Palace - where they longed to be in life. Once a showperson, always a showperson; it’s in the blood… and soul.)

* * *

My mom sat down yogi-style and tuned in as the small crowd of bystanders sat in the wings of the majestic stage. All the pain of the many lingering spirits of show business began funneling through the haze of time and lives gone by; and from other dimensions, they thought they would finally be allowed to speak. But she just couldn’t stand the pain and it was evident that she couldn’t go on too long trying to bring them through. Her spirit guide, St. Catherine of Siena, would not allow them to come directly through her. At first, she saw all the spirits on the stage behind a gate that was holding them back. Many of these lost souls were so full of pain, worry and unhappiness that might cause her body harm should they all try to come through at once… it would have overwhelmed her. As it was, she could hardly contain herself as she wept uncontrollably. I’d never before witnessed such pain in anyone’s face as I saw that day. It was the cumulative pain of so many lives gone by.

Then the messages came. Mostly in bits and pieces, she tried to utter them through her tears of obvious confusion, having opened herself up to a space too many souls inhabited, stuck there by their own stubbornness in not wanting to leave the theatre. I knew no medium on earth could handle that many souls with all their lifetimes of hurt and rejection remembered having dedicated themselves to the stage. It was difficult to understand the significance of these messages at the time; but soon after the session had ended, much of what my mother said was confirmed to be true by the stage manager and others in the cast and crew as well as my own research into these matters.

• The first thing she said was something undistinguishable about June Haver, an old movie star.

• Then she kept crying out, over and over, “There are so many of them!” telling us they were standing at a gate or in a cage and that they are all so troubled. “They need your prayers badly,” she implored. It makes so much sense that there would be so many troubled souls on that stage considering the way they were treated, controlled and limited by Albee.

• As the session went on, it was evident that the leading spirit, or, rather, the most dominant, was that of Bing Crosby. She told us his soul was in great pain over the way he had treated his children in life. He, too, needed prayers to take him into the Light. He said he wants to get rid of his grief and she saw his soul being cleansed as he spoke. She stressed how sorry he was for the way he treated his sons. He had made himself the center of their lives, forced them to watch him perform and mentioned something about a high chair he had put them in as a kind of cruel punishment. He was evidently remembering very telling incidents.

• Jimmy Durante came forth and made silly gestures and then told her that Bob Hope would be passing on shortly.

• She said someone was cursing “Les.” Then she said specifically, “Lana is cursing Les.” Assuming she meant Lana Turner, who had recently died, we researched a little about her life and found a book written by her daughter, Cheryl. In this book, she told how her stepfather, Lex Barker, molested her. (My mother thought she’d said “Les,” when she was actually saying something less common – “Lex.”) We believe since Lana just passed over into the spirit realm recently that this is whom she was cursing. Lana was significant, too, since she was Judy Garland’s neighbor at one time in Hollywood and they’d remained good friends from their youth when they were both MGM contract players and went to school on the studio lot together with other future stars such as Mickey Rooney and Ava Gardner. Cheryl and Liza Minelli played together often, according to “Detour Hollywood,” Cheryl’s book.

• She stressed that these spirits were all standing in a blue, healing place but that they were stuck there and needed help to go on.

• Someone who was like Houdini appeared in a kind of box stating over and over, “It didn’t work.” He was trying to get a group together to help his country to be in the Light. (Houdini was born in Budapest, Hungary.) During the trance, later, the stage manager handed me a photocopy of a Houdini story from a book about ghosts haunting theatres. It was very interesting that he’d brought a copy of the story with him while all at once this message was coming from my mother. He went on to mention an uncle, father and brother who must not be forgotten. The message, “It didn’t work” is significant because of the mystery surrounding Houdini’s death. Some say he died of a ruptured appendix caused by a punch in the stomach (he’d been taken off-guard by some boys who were attempting to challenge his supposedly invincible constitution). Some say he’d gone too far with his tricks when he was chained inside a water tank.

Mrs. Harry Houdini issued a statement December, 1936:

“I wish to thank all the individuals and magic societies that joined in the final Houdini seance that encircled the world October 31, 1936. Those names and records will live forever in the Houdini room in the Congressional Library at Washington, D.C. Since the failure of the ten-year test and the seventeen seances held simultaneously in all parts of the world with Hollywood, it is my opinion that all concerned have struck a mighty world-wide blow at superstition.”

• She received a message that there is a girl from another country who performs on that stage at night who will be dealing with Hollywood. They warned that it is not right for her. They kept saying, “Hollywood is corrupt. Hollywood is mean and cruel.” Then came the message: May 1998… so much destruction. Later, the stage manager told us that during May of 1988 the Palace was remodeled and there had been a lot of destruction there; but my mother believes they were referring to future destruction, as the date would indicate.

• Marilyn Monroe appeared as a little girl. They revealed that she had been murdered by someone sticking something in her rectum. They said she did not deserve to die, that she was innocent. In spirit, she no longer wanted to be a woman and appeared as a pretty little girl, spreading flowers around to everyone. It is how she prefers to see herself, how she prefers to be. She was holding a sort of Barbie-like doll that looked like her. We knew it was significant that Marilyn’s spirit had come when the stage manager told us the story of how Joe Kennedy had taken over the Palace and was known for trysting in some of the upstairs offices. Marilyn might have been taking the opportunity to convey that her death was connected with the Kennedys.

• Someone sang a song in Japanese - “America.” Some of us who had been involved in Jaco Pastorius’s spirit communicating from the afterlife, knew it was probably Jaco reminding us he was still there as he referred to the success of his c.d. in Japan. He would always come and play “America” on his bass.

• My mother then saw seven people on the stage - seven who didn’t belong there. She saw a train and gun shots. Then she saw a beautiful young woman with long hair trying to reach her mother. My mother didn’t recognize her, but now thinks it may be one of the victims of the Long Island Railroad massacre.

• She was told that the drowning of Natalie Wood was actually a murder, that she had been pushed overboard.

• Generally, she said, she saw very little that was positive there on the Palace Theatre stage. She stressed that it is sometimes confusing since there are still so many people performing there daily; she might be picking up on their vibrations along with all the spirits that linger. She said that all these people are still trying to reach up to a higher dimension and can’t get there until they make it right with the people there at the Palace. They remain because they never went anywhere else; they never grew away from that space. She asked us all to help them with our prayers.

* * *

There were as many as 103 spirits on the Palace Theatre stage that October day. St. Catherine would not allow any past the gate and my mother could not recognize a lot of them… and there were so many. Bing Crosby was the dominant spirit, desperate to let everyone know he is sorry for the way he treated his sons. Upon learning this, my mom tried to reach his sons, Gary and Phillip, only to find that Gary had died of lung cancer only two months prior. Some of his last words were filled with the anger he had toward his father and the desire to release it all. Bing’s other son, Phillip, has gone into seclusion; though we’d like to reach him with the messages from his father that may help him to release his anger and the pain that might have killed his brother.

Today, the Palace Theatre is home to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Many of the cast and crew gather each and every Sunday night after performances to meditate and pray for the spirits who need their love and parenting that they may one day be released and go into the Light.

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