Hotel Metropole – Panama City, Panama – 20 Feb 1930
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a menu from the Donna Darling Collection.
According to my memories of talks with Donna, immediately after the 1929 stock market crash, many people stopped going to the theatres for vaudeville shows. Basically, they started canceling the shows they had booked, and the performers were left high and dry. Donna and Sammy decided to go to Panama City, Panama, where the depression hadn’t come to.
While in Panama City, Donna had a birthday. To celebrate, Donna had a birthday dinner at the Hotel Metropole, Santa Ana Plaza, in Panama City, Panama. The menu for that dinner survived. Guests had options of Baked Hallibot [sic], Tenderloin Steak, and Broiled Spring Chicken.
What I found most interesting was that she was celebrating her “25th birthday.” Donna commonly lied about her age. However, the 37-year-old must have been a real beauty (or deluding herself) to have pulled of saying she was only 25.
I suspect that Grandpa Dick was at the dinner and that something happened that Sammy didn’t like. In any event, it was only five weeks after this dinner that Sammy and Donna returned to the States. When they returned, they were estranged. They were in separate cabins, and each was heading “home.” Sammy to his mother’s house in New York City and Donna to her mother’s house in Detroit.
To my knowledge, Donna’s return from Panama signaled the end of Donna’s show business career.