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 The Pittsburgh Playhouse

According to the legends, the Pittsburgh Playhouse is probably the spookiest place in Pittsburgh. The century-old Playhouse, located on Craft Avenue in Oakland, is literally teeming with ghosts, the most famous of which are the Lady in White, John Johns, Weeping Eleanor, Gorgeous George, and the Bouncing Red Meanie.

Many theaters claim to harbor ghosts, but the rich history of the Pittsburgh Playhouse seems to especially lend itself to tales of the supernatural. Through the years, parts of the building have been the Tree of Life Synagogue, a wedding reception hall, a bar and even a brothel. Row houses used to exist where the dressing rooms now stand.

The personalities of the ghostly cast of the Playhouse are just as diverse and the stories have remained remarkably consistent over time.

John Johns was an actor who performed at the Playhouse in the 1950s. One night he was attending a banquet in the restaurant which used to exist in the Playhouse basement when he collapsed of a heart attack. He was carried to his dressing room where he died while awaiting the ambulance. Reports say that his footsteps are frequently heard climbing the steps to his old dressing room where they stop at the threshold. He has also been seen by actors and students checking sets and props at the Playhouse dressed in an old-fashioned tuxedo. 

The Lady in White is believed to be an actress who performed in the Hamlet Street Theater in the Playhouse during the 1930s. The Rockwell Theater in the Pittsburgh Playhouse used to be a church and legend has it that this actress was married in this church and during the reception which followed she found out that her new husband was having an affair. She shot her husband and his mistress that night. Here the legend gets fuzzy, however, as some reports are that she shot herself and others say that she climbed the steps to the balcony of the Hamlet Street theater and plunged to her death. Some say the Lady in White can be seen walking across this balcony with the gun still in her hand, while others report seeing her standing on the theater stage from time to time.

Weeping Eleanor has never been seen, but it is said that late at night she can be heard crying in one of the dressing rooms - the very place where she and her daughter perished in a horrible fire back when the dressing rooms were row houses. As legend has it, everyone survived the tragic fire except for Weeping Eleanor and her daughter.

Gorgeous George is actually a gruesome, green-faced character with a rotting face.  His story is lost in the mists of history, but it is said that he likes to go around sneaking up on people, tapping on windows or even people's shoulders and giving them a good scare. 

The Bouncing Red Meanie is a more recent and more disturbing ghost than the rest. He is believed to have first appeared on Halloween Night, 1974, when some students decided to hold a seance on the stage of the Rockwell Theater in the Playhouse after closing. Ten minutes into the seance the figure of a red man appeared in the back of the theater pacing back and forth. Most present day reported sightings describe him as levitating and bouncing off of the walls and ceiling, hence the name Bouncing Red Meanie.

Do you believe in these ghosts? Visit the Pittsburgh Playhouse and see for yourself...the ghosts will be waiting.


The Pittsburgh Playhouse


About Pittsburgh

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