Today, it’s the luxe Michelangelo Hotel. But from 1926 through the 1980s, it was the 2,000-room Hotel Taft, “one of the premier tourist hotels in the city,” a New York Times article recalls.
Over the years, that adds up to a lot of out-of-towners booking rooms to celebrate events and catch Broadway shows. But like any multistory hotel, the Taft has also had its share of suicides.
“Woman Phones News of Her Own Suicide,” a headline from June 1933 reads. After calling the city desk at the Daily Mirror, 35-year-old phone operator Miss Catherine Mary Dietz told a staffer that she’d just taken “36 tablets of poison” and was about to leap to her death from her room on the 18th floor, which she did, a moment later.
That wasn’t the only suicide at the Taft in 1933. In February, 40-year-old artist Charles Schomburg jumped from his 14th-floor room, leaving a note that read “financial reverses have brought me to this point of despondency.” His body hit the roof of the adjoining Roxy Theater.
Seven years later, a Brooklyn surgeon registered under a fake name and overdosed. “The body was found in bed clad in pajamas with the covers pulled it,” the Times wrote.
“In a wastepaper basket near by was a brown bottle containing a few crystals.” He left his home phone number on a pad on the night table.
A TV and theater actor also ended his life at the Taft. Philip Loeb (he played the father on The Goldbergs) OD’d there on sleeping pills in 1955. His apparent motive: The show dropped him because he’d been blacklisted as a communist.