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Last updated: Mon. Oct. 24, 2011 - 09:39 pm EDT

Ghost of Bud Berger still caring for the Embassy Theatre? (video)

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*To find out more about Bud Berger's notebooks, and to get an intimate look backstage during the glory days of early movies in Fort Wayne, pick up a copy of the November issue of Fort Wayne Monthly magazine, which will be out Oct. 28.


Maybe you've heard of the Embassy Theatre ghost — a phantom figure that floats around the Embassy Theatre haunting guests and staff members. But have you heard of Bud Berger?

Down a long, half-lit hallway beneath the Embassy stage was the office, and sometimes living quarters, of Bud Berger, the stage manager at the theater from the 1930s to 1950s.

Many people say Bud is still there, and during Fright Night this past Saturday, visitors got a chance to learn about Bud's ghost and hear stories about the many reported Embassy hauntings.

Winding through the labyrinth of halls, Kelly Updike, Embassy executive director, gave a personal tour of the historic building.

Updike said, before she came to the Embassy, she was not much of a believer of paranormal activity and had not had any experiences with ghosts.

"Now that I have been at the Embassy, it's a little creepier," she said. "We have had some situations where it's just odd and we wonder if Bud is present."

The strange occurrences she talks about are faucets running when they shouldn't be, hearing noises and seeing shadows.

But the most reoccurring ghostly experience in the theater is, when someone goes to practice on the Grande Page organ, hearing the squeaks of an audience chair lowering as if someone was sitting on it, and then raising when the person is done playing.

Each time, it is the same chair. The workers like to think it is Bud coming down to listen to the organ he had always loved but never played during his life.

Updike frequently has to stop and remind herself that Bud was a kind man in life, and appears to be a benevolent ghost in the afterlife.

Bud Berger the man

Next to his old office, the walls are lined with autographed photos from such famous faces as Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell and Gene Sheldon. All the photos are made out to Bud, a tall, thin and simple man dedicated to one thing, making sure each show ran smoothly.

As a stage manager, Bud's responsibilities were coordinating schedules with stagehands and performers, and making sure each moment went exactly as planned. But he went beyond that.

Bud collected photos of each performer that walked through the doors of the Emboyd, the theater's name before it was changed to the Embassy in 1952. He also had records listing the acts coming to Fort Wayne since 1906.

Harvey Cocks, artistic director at Fort Wayne Youtheatre, used to know Bud. Cocks' father used to work as Embassy Theatre general manager, and Bud was like a part of the family. When Bud died Jan. 4, 1965, he left all his records, photos and other belongings to Harvey Cocks.

"I go into the Embassy Theatre today, and I sense Bud there," Cocks said. "They say his ghost haunts the Embassy Theatre, and, I don't know whether it's imagination or what, but I do sense his presence."

"I don't think he had an enemy in the world," he added. "His job and his friends were his entire life. I wish I could let you know exactly how hard this man worked. His entire life was the motion picture theaters in Fort Wayne."

When Bud died, he had no family. What he did have was the Embassy and only one request — to have his ashes scattered on the rooftop of the theater. The Embassy staff did just that.

Bud Berger the ghost

Today, Updike and other staff members like to think Bud is still giving the Embassy his attention, making sure nothing goes wrong under his watch. She shared an eerie story about a strange event that happened to a former Embassy director many years ago.

Late one night, the director could not sleep. He was having a strange reoccurring dream of a man repeating, "There is water all around."

After many attempts to go back to bed, the director gave up around 4 a.m. and started to head to work.

When he got to the Embassy, a water main had burst and many parts of the Embassy were beginning to flood. Being a large plaster building, the water damage would have been extensive. The former director truly believes it was Bud's ghost telling him to go to the Embassy that night.

"It makes me feel better that Bud is looking out for the building, giving us signals and signs to help us take care of it," Updike said. "It's an important building in the community and in the state, and we want it to stay around for a long time."

While the haunted tour of the Embassy is over for this Halloween, you can experience the history through any performance at the theater. And who knows, you may even run into Bud.

Archive information collected by Laura Weston-Elchert, Multimedia Editor at The News-Sentinel, from The News-Sentinel archives.

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