Of the many famous New York theatrical personalities who have produced or directed Broadway shows no one outshines David Belasco. He did it all, wrote, produced, directed, designed theaters and advanced stage craft in ways which have formed the basis of everything that has come since.
He arrived in NYC when he was 29, in 1882, by then already thoroughly trained and experienced in theater management and began his Broadway career in that role. But he rapidly expanded what he was doing by writing, producing and directing, and with a 100 Broadway shows to his credit by the end of his career, he catapulted himself to the forefront of the Broadway scene during the rest of his lifetime.
His greatest writing successes were Madame Butterfly, see the video, and the The Girl of the Golden West both of which were adapted by Puccini into 2 of the most beloved operas of all time. And 40 films were made from plays that he wrote, so his influence extended well beyond Broadway.
His achievements were broader still as he pioneered many new theater techniques. He introducted both naturalistic stage lighting, real to life stage sets and advanced stage technology still in use today.
He developed, collaborated with or promoted a roll call of famous Broadway stars including Cecil B DeMille, D.W. Griffin, Helen Hayes, Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford. He was also a member of the very prestigious New York Theatrical club The Lambs.
He was associated with two theaters in NYC. One which is now called the Republic and another which was designed by him incorporating all the latest in stagecraft and technology, which started life being called The Stuyvesant but was then renamed The Belasco in 1910. He had his business office there and a private apartment, see the second video. The show currently running at the Belasco is Hedwick and the Angry Inch.
Belasco was the original Broadway Impresario, hugely talented, who influenced all aspects of the developemnt of Broadway right up to his death in 1931. But of course his influence has prevailed inot the present. Quite apart from his writing, as that spot magnificently illuminates the star of the next Broadway show you see remember that Belasco was the man who did away with footlights and started the use of the fabulous stage lighting we enjoy today.