Donna in a Roland West sketch at Keeney’s

February, March, and April, 1919.

Records about Donna’s early vaudeville years are sparse. For example, I know that the January 31,, 1919, issue of Variety, under New Acts mentions, “Donna Montran and Trixie Bressler in a new sketch by Roland West.”[i] We also see an ad for them in the same issue of “Variety.” From that issue of Variety, we have no idea what the show was about, where it played, nor who Trixie Bressler and Roland West are.

Crop of Montran and Bressler ad.

Variety Weekly, Jan 31, 1919, Page 59

In the February 28th issue, we learn that Donna and Trixie are “Two Girls with a Single Thought: TO ENTERTAIN YOU. [ii]

Crop of Montran and Bressler ad.

Variety Magazine, Feb 28, 1919, Page 67

Two weeks later, we learn that Trixie appears to have been replaced. Donna Montran and Jessie Kennison are now the “Two Girls with a Single Thought: To ENTERTAIN YOU.” We also learn the show is playing at Keeney’s, Newark, and Keeney’s Brooklyn for the week beginning March 17th.[iii]

Crop of Montran and Kennison ad

Variety Magazine, March 14, 1919

A month later, things seem confusing because Trixie is back. They are still playing at Keeney’s Newark but only doing four shows.[iv]  Was Trixie gone for a couple weeks or was the ad showing Jessie Kennison a mistake.

Crop of ad Montran and Bressler

Variety Magazine, April 14, 1919

Finally, a week later, on April 21, Variety runs one final ad for Donna Montran and Trixie Bressler that doesn’t have any dates or places for the two.

Roland West

Roland West became known as a Hollywood director. Born in 1885, he began acting in vaudeville productions as a teenager. In his early 20s, he was writing and directing Vaudeville productions. He went to California and in 1925 he directed the classic silent film, The Monster, with Lon Chaney, Sr.[v] He also directed the 1929 film Alibi which was nominated for three Academy Awards.[vi]

Trixie Bressler

I know very little about Trixie. I do know that she was a young dancer. In May 1918, she presented a dance revue at the Ithaca Star[vii]. Trixie was probably either 19 or 20 years old. Omaha Marriages indicates that Trixie Bressler married George D. Schwartz on 20 Jul 1919. [viii] and that Trixie was 20 when they married. Trixie’s vaudeville career appears to end with her marriage.

Jessie Kennison

I have been unsuccessful learning anything about Jessie Kennison.

Further Research

Find Trixie Bressler Schwartz’s descendants and see if they have any memorabilia from Trixie’s vaudeville days.

Find advertisements and write-ups about the shows at Keeney’s Newark and Keeney’s Brooklyn and determine if I can learn more about the “Roland West” show with Donna and Trixie.

Learn more about Jessie Kennison.


Endnotes

[i] 1919-01-31 – Variety Weekly, New York, NY, Vol 53-Page 20.jpg

[ii] 1919-03-14 – Variety, Motion Pictures, Vaudeville, Theater, Film Industry, Trade Magazine, New York, NY, March 14, 1919.

[iii] 1919-03-14 – Variety, Motion Pictures, Vaudeville, Theater, Film Industry, Trade Magazine, New York, NY, 1919, March 14, 1919.

[iv] 1919-04-14 – Variety Magazine (New York, NY) Page 75.

[v] Wikipedia – Roland West entry – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_West

[vi] Wikipedia – Alibi (1929 Film) entry – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alibi_(1929_film)

[vii] Ithaca Journal (Ithaca, NY) 4 May 1918, Page Six, Advertising Bottom right of page – via Newspapers.com. https://www.newspapers.com/image/254416940

[viii] Omaha Area Marriages – Schm-Sci – https://omahamarriages.wordpress.com/schm-sci/ – SCHWARTZ, George D.

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