Saint Malachy Roman Catholic Church is a parish church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, located in Manhattan on West 49th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. The parish has served the theater community in a special way since 1920, and its parishioners have included a large number of celebrities in the field of acting, such as Bob Hope and Gregory Peck.
The Actors' Parish:
Around 1920 the Theater District started to move uptown into this area, and actors, dancers and musicians became prominent worshipers at the church, replacing the traditional, working class congregants. To answer their needs, the pastor, Monsignor Edward F. Leonard, had the Chapel of St. Genesius, the patron saint of actors-commonly called the "Actors' Chapel"-constructed below the main church in 1920. He sought the special permission of the Archbishop of New York, for Masses to be celebrated there at 4 A.M. (which was banned by canon law at the time) to accommodate the non-standard schedules of theater workers and thus make worship convenient for them.
St. Malachy soon became a primary place of worship for the entertainment community. It gained worldwide attention when the church was the setting for the funeral of Rudolph Valentino, as well as of the wedding of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. to Joan Crawford. Celebrity worshipers were often in attendance, as well as theater goers, and the nearby location of Madison Square Garden during that time helped to provide a steady stream of visitors. Until the late 1960s average monthly attendance at Sunday services totaled some 16,000 people. The church's chimes would play "There's No Business Like Show Business."