Wednesday, October 14, 2020

CABARET AND SPIRITS


Chez Odette was another of those gems here is New Hope that had a happy and tragic story for many. I still miss this place. Chez Odette was still in full swing when I moved here...famous for many a hung over Sunday brunch. And Odette's nightly cabaret saw a who's who of performers. It 's where I saw that great Shirley Bassey perform once,  and Patti Lupone. The palace was also famous for it's campy and roaring New Years Eve parties in the 60's and 70's. But I wasn't to enjoy it long, as three back to back floods in 2006 ended it's life span and the place sat vacant up till last year. And of course was another place that one could feel a strong presence.
The original stone structure was built in 1784 as an inn and tavern, eventually becoming the River House. In the late 1950's, it was purchased by French vaudeville actress Odette Myrtil. Odette was a story in herself. Mme. Myrtil may not have been a huge star, but she showed up in over two dozen movies directed by such venerable talents as William Wyler, Preston Sturges, Alfred Hitchcock, Jules Dassin, and George Cukor. One reason that those filmmakers chose to use her was that she could lend a trace of her sophistication to American films, and provide an intriguing contrast to the heroines she so often helped, tempted, and guided through their personal dramas. In her own time she was a favorite on stage, screen and cabaret stages on two continents for many decades. She often appeared in studio era films as the quintessential pragmatic Frenchwoman. Myrtil's success in cabarets and theaters in France and Britain soon led her to work on both sides of the Atlantic, beginning in 1914 when the sixteen-year-old was engaged for two editions of the famed Ziegfeld Follies in New York.

Eventually, after several more small triumphs on stage, including replacing Juanita Hall in the part of Bloody Mary in the original New York company of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South PacificMyrtil, was finally able to build her nest in the countryside she loved so much. It was probably from Oscar Hammerstein she came here, as he too had a residence outside New Hope. In the late 1950s, the actress found a cozy berth in the town of New Hope. Odette first took over management of the Playhouse Inn, now the infamous Bucks County Playhouse,  where Broadway shows tried out, and high quality theatrical productions had flourished since the 1930s, attracting famous actors and their well-heeled audiences to the spot, not far from Philadelphia and New York. Bringing her flair for food and fashion to play, Odette featured jazz and dancing nightly, creating a bistro atmosphere in the dining room of Chez Odette, which was decorated with Mme. Myrtil's memorabilia from a lifetime of performing. Sometimes Odette even introduced her patrons to new and different performers, including Nina Simone in 1957, the unique and sometimes eccentric singer, found herself surprisingly at home in the night spot, here in New Hope.

Mme. Odette passed away at 80 in 1975,in her Doylestown home where she also spent much time... and had sold Chez Odette  three years before her death, . Many who worked there and years after her death,  said no question,  Odette still frequented the place. Her perfume could also be smelled in the parts of Odettes she spent time in, her office door to her suite would often lock, and many workers and guest heard the piano play. One guest remarked at the beautiful playing she heard in her room. The worker didn't mention to the guest though that there was no piano player, that afternoon. They always assumed it was Odette tickling the ivories.
Guest and workers have also felt a presence on the third floor, where Odette would often stay overnight instead of driving home, and guests had heard their names being called out, by a male voice. A psychic couple also identified the ghost of a woman, many had seen, who was murdered in the bar area and gets upset when someone sits in her favorite seat. Cocktails were known to slide down the bar. Many have said they also have seen the ghost of actor George C. Scott, who also loved New Hope and was often a guest of Odette,  he is said to haunt both locations. Then there’s the tragic story of pioneering female newscaster Jessica Savitch.
On October 23, 1983, after having dinner at Chez Odette, Savitch and male friend, Martin Fischbein, vice president of the New York Post, somehow had a mishap during heavy rainstorm and drove off the parking lot and into the canal upside down. Both were trapped in the car and drowned, as did Savitch’s dog, Chewy. It’s said that all three are still wondering the area and there have been many sightings of the blond new anchor standing late at night, watching the river,  and many others hear Chewy haunts the site of their deaths near the restaurant. Many others claim to hear a dog barking, while others walking dogs pass the site, say their dogs start acting agitated and barking for no reason.

Investors purchased the historic building two years ago, and spent years obtaining the proper permissions to move Chez Odette. The site has now been turned into The Riverhouse at Odette’s. The old building was literarily picked up and moved about 2,000 feet down the street and converted it into a haunted French museum and French boutique hotel. 

Do ghosts stick with their paranormal residence if it’s moved? That would seem to make sense if they’re attached to events in the building rather than being buried beneath it. Odette, Jessica and the others may decide to roam a drier location. Then again, the new complex sounds pretty nice. Could the murdered ghost find happiness and peace in elegant new bar? Guests and patrons of The Riverhouse at Odette’s will find out soon as it just opened four weeks ago. A friend of mine is working there and sent this picture. It was so cool to see they still incorporated her name and it's history and have a whole wing of Odette Mytle's portraits hanging in her honor.
This incidentally is also the same company that bought my home away from home the Raven. This is Odette's today.

30 comments:

  1. What a complicated history. Fascinating. I will look for Odette in films, now. And that Jessica Savitch story. Chilling. Poor pup. What an odd way to go... Thanks for sharing, dear. You have such great taste and an interesting history. I love learning about people from where they've been.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have always been fascinated by Odette Myrtle. I am almost hoping I can find a book on her to learn more. There have been records found here with her and Hammerstein and Dorothy Parker meeting up for luncheon during the week here. A picture of the three can still be found in the old Mothers Restaurant. The Savitch story is more chilling by how it happened. What a terrible way to go.

      Delete
  2. Excuse my words, but that is the most fucking fascinating thing I read all week. I find myself wanting to read more about here. I love your area, but I have to admit I do get a "feeling" when I have been there. The whole town has a sort of "presence" to it.

    And how about that girl working in town last summer who disappeared of the bridge. She entered the bridge on the New Hope side, but never got off on the Lambertville side. Cameras caught nothing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't recall if they have found her. She just seemed to vanish mid bridge. But I'm glad you enjoyed the post, that makes me happy.

      Delete
  3. I agree with the Empress above. I enjoyed reading this post. William and I frequented Chez Odette many times... to many to mention, that place was entertaining and one never knew who'd you see there any given night. And it's a shame we don't hear more about the fabulous to be sure, Madame Myrtle Odette. We' ve heard the stories, and I remember very well the Jessica Savitch story. It was very dark and shocking, and if memory serves, neither one was intoxicated. We had just been there the week prior and were in disbelief over the news. Wouldn't surprise me if her spirit is still on the banks of the canal.

    And the new place? WOW!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was but a young queen, only 13 and don't remember hearing about the Jessica Savitch story. But have seen pictures of the wreckage. What a freak accident.

      Delete
  4. I am loving your blog this month henny...so nice to see someone enjoy the spirt of Halloween. Do they still have the ghost tour in New Hope? This place and Odettes sound like a colorful history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think any ghost tours this year with the pandemic, but last year they still continued. And yes... love Halloween. I was suppose to be born on Halloween, but decide to come early. The first and only time I was early.

      Delete
  5. I am too finding I want to know more about this fascinating woman. I was almost upset when the post ended.But I think it's grand to incorporate her name and history and pictures in the new place. Good karma couldn't hurt could it???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I ever find a book Ill have to share the link where I find it.

      Delete
  6. What great and fascinating stories. How cool that theY saved the house. I can’t believe al the fascinating history of anew Hope. Such a shame that all I knew about when I lived on the a East Coast was that it was good for shopping!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unless a local, I don't think many people have any idea of this places colorful history and resident here. One friend didn't even know George Washington crossed the river up the road.

      Delete
  7. You saw SHIRLEY BASSEY on stage? In New Hope?!

    That explains your penchant for sequins, I suppose.

    Jx

    PS Jealous? MOI??!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That place was a who's who , who have been through there over the ages. And over the top drag shows were also added in it's last years...so Dame Shirley most likely felt at home.

      Delete
  8. We need to come stay for a few days.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was living in DC when the savitch accident occurred. wonder what REALLY happened that night? interesting story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We may never know. But what a terrible way to go drowning in murky thick mud and water....

      Delete
  10. What a great story, and what great history. That Odette, the person, seems fabulous!
    I'm glad they were able to save it and move it, lest another flood come through, and hope the spirits went to the new spot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When the new place went up, it was built up high, so it a floor hit again, the only thing to get floored would be underground parking. I hear it is FABULOUS!

      Delete
  11. Firs, Shirley fucking BASSEY? GUUUUURRRLLL.
    And that's a fantastic story. I can totally believe they moved the house like that. And I'm sure it was moved with all that inhabited it.
    The story of Savitch's accident is incredible. Whoa.
    Loved this post!

    XOXO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First and only time to see here! I enjoy her much more then Lupone. People wonder why I'm so intrigued by this area. It is just so quirky, and such varied history.

      Delete
  12. Another good, spooky lesson!
    Amazed that they could move that building.
    xoxo :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Very cool place... And the story behind it all is fascinating. Yes, spirits attached to the building will go with it. So she will live on. If it's the same investment company what purchased The Raven, perhaps there is hope for a rebirth there as well.
    If Myrtil was part of the Ziegfeld Follies in the 'teens, I wonder if she must've known Fanny Brice???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't have surprised me. Her connections seem to go deep and very surprising. A older gentlemen I once have a nice conversation with at the Raven once told me of the people who used to come to New Hope through Odette. Even up to the end, big names were still coming to perform a night at Chez Odette. He said it wasn't uncommon to see Hammerstein, Parker and Myrtle lunching in New Hope weekly.

      Delete
  14. Wow, great story! Especially for this spooky time of year!

    ReplyDelete
  15. More of these post! I have been to New Hope several times...a short jaunt form DC, but I never knew or hear this stuff. New Hope is definitely a fun quirky town. I think Bucks County is a kept secret jewel of the South East. And of course Philly.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Very intresting!!! If a town is going to be haunted, might as well be those of colorful people.

    The new place looks amazing! I love the look of it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Madame Odette was certainly fashionable. This was a excellent read, thanks for sharing this Mistress. That is also rather chilling about how Jessica Savitch died...gave me chills.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Only had time for a quick scan...but fascinating...I’ll be back for a full read!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Excellent post Mistress. I was never there, but know right where it was. Several of my orchestra members still talk of that place when New Hope comes up in conversation. I too think I would read a auto on Odette Myrtle if there is indeed one. New Hope is one of a kind.

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...