American dramatist; born in San Francisco in 1858 of English parents. He is of the same family as the English actor known on the stage as David James. Belasco began his dramatic work in early youth. His boyhood was passed in Vancouver, B.C., under the tutelage of a Catholic priest, and he was afterward graduated at Lincoln College, San Francisco, California. In 1878 he became stage-manager of the Baldwin Theater, San Francisco, and at various times held the same position at the Metropolitan Theater, the Broad Street Theater, and the Grand Opera House in that city. During this period he was also the stage-director of many important dramatic companies. While perfecting himself in stage-management, he was at work writing and adjusting plays and dramatizing novels.

His first play, given at Mozart Hall in San Franciscoin 1872, was called "Jim Black; or, The Regulators' Revenge." In 1880 Belasco went to New York to take charge of two productions at the Madison Square Theater; and it was there that he made his first pronounced success as a dramatic author. This was achieved in 1884 with "May Blossom," the most famous of the Madison Square plays of that period. When Daniel Frohman left the Madison Square Theater to take charge of the Lyceum Theater in 1885, Belasco went with him and became director of the productions there. Forming a literary partnership with Henry C. de Mille, their first joint work was "The Wife." Two other collaborations, "The Charity Ball" and "Lord Chumley," followed, in which E. H. Sothern gained his first triumph as a star. The three plays were produced at the Lyceum. Then Belasco and De Mille wrote and produced "Men and Women" for Charles Frohman at Proctor's Theater, Twenty-third street. De Mille having died, Belasco, in collaboration with Franklin Fyles, wrote "The Girl I Left Behind Me." In 1891 his English version of "Miss Helyett" was produced. Four years later he brought out "The Heart of Maryland." During the last decade Mr. Belasco has taken rank at the head of American dramatic authors, and has written and produced "Zaza," "Madame Butterfly," "La Belle Russe," "Valerie," and, with James A. Herne, "Hearts of Oak" and "Du Barry."

David Belasco.A. E. Ms. H. Ve.
Images of pages