December 18, 2012

A Different Kind Of Christmas Ghost

We all know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas. There is another not so well known story of a ghost around Christmas time. Whether you believe in the spirit world or not, this is quite interesting nevertheless. I myself have a very open mind and when I hear of a ghost story, it kind of catches my interest. So I read them, view photos and videos pertaining to the story, and find most of them interesting. Some are off the wall and obviously fake, some could have a scant bit of truth to them, while very few are totally believable.  I have had many strange and sometimes frightening experiences throughout my life, so this is the reason I have such an interest in the paranormal and the unknown.

This story falls into the scant bit of truth category, because of the vast accounts from journalist, members of the audience, stage hands, and stars of the productions.

It’s December 1948 in Bath, England, on stage in the Theatre Royal. While rehearsing a pantomime of Little Red Riding Hood, director Reg Maddox wanted to include a butterfly ballet, so a set was built to correspond with the scene. A short time passed and a tortoiseshell butterfly was found dead on stage. It was peculiar that one would be there in the month of December. Soon after Reg died of a heart attack while setting up the lighting for a rehearsal. His son Fred took over the production and immediately removed the ballet scene from the production, thinking it to be a bad omen.

As time went on, bad luck plagued the rehearsals. Until one day another tortoiseshell butterfly, this one was alive, fluttered at the feet of the dancers. So Fred decided to reinstate the ballet, and the show was a huge success.

In 1979, on opening night of Aladdin, a tortoiseshell butterfly landed on Leslie Crowther’s shoulder, who was playing Wishee Washee in the production. When the show was over, he proceeded to tell the story of the butterfly to a captive audience.

This is an excerpt from The Bonus of Laughter an autobiography by Leslie and Jean Crowther.

“Dear old Reg – he stuck around for days and days. Sometimes we spotted him in the front of the house and sometimes back-stage, but I’ll never forget the first time he fluttered down from the spotlight. And yes! The pantomime was a big success.”

Leslie believed that the butterfly was actually Reg Maddox.

To this day, the butterfly appears in every successful stage production in the theatre, and the butterfly scenery from the pantomime in 1948 is displayed in the fly tower.

Other encounters over the years include, in 1981, while stage hands were cleaning out some debris from an old cupboard they found a wooden box. Upon opening it, six tortoiseshell butterflies flew out of it and in the bottom of the box was a photograph of Reg Maddox.

In 1985 while doing a press call, Honor Blackman, an actress, was being photographed when the butterfly was outside the window tapping on the glass.

To some this might be too far fetched to be believable, others might think it’s just a promotional stunt for the theatre, but in my opinion, with all the witnesses accounts over the years. There must be some bit of truth to this Butterfly Ghost.

Join me next time for another Supernatural Endeavor.


Image Credit: alessandra101 / Shutterstock

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