Donna Darling Collection – Part 84

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week, for Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Collection. The page includes three clippings, all relating to the Grand Theater.

The Grand

This is the first week of the Grand’s new and permanent policy of offering a program of pictures and vaudeville at popular prices and judging from the reception accorded the entertainment yesterday by the patrons it should develop Into a successful institution. The Hollywood motion picture bathing girls present the variety entertainment, while the screen’s chief feature is a Monty Banks full length comedy, “Racing Luck.”

“The Evolution of the Bathing Suit” is what the Hollywood organization, of which Donna Darling is the star, calls its revue. The schedule is opened by a magnetic little miss who calls herself the poet or the show. She introduces Miss- Darling, who sings a song about the girl of 1860, to be followed by three girls who dance in bathing costumes of that period. Betty Bryant dances as the modern girl, Alice Louise is the Bowery type, Clarice Allyn the Chinese bather, Jerry Jean the Atlantic City model, Nattie Norine the Palm Beach stroller and Tom Watson and Al Ross as the life guards.

There are few slow moments in the production, the dancing is varied and pleasing and the singing of Miss Darling, who wears some beautiful costumes, is well worth the applause it receives. There is a hula dancer who is the most interesting hula dancer we have seen in front of the footlights of a Terre Haute theater this season, and the team of Watson and Ross is excellent in its eccentric creations. The show, as a whole, is a well-balanced piece.

The Grand orchestra, under the direction of George Jacob, violinist, who has Cliff Lowe, his pianist, as his trusty right-hand man, surprises one with its skill in handling the musical score of the show.

Along with the article is an advertisement and a photo of Donna with her beautiful cloak.  Both of the clippings also mention she is at the Grand Theatre.

Key features:

    • Venue: Grand Theatre in Terre Haute.
    • Cast: Betty Bryant, Alice Louise, Clarice Allyn, Jerry Jean, Nattie Norine Tom Watson, and Al Ross.
    • Also on bill:
      • The movie: “Racing Luck” with Monty Banks.

Analysis

According to Wikipedia[i], Racing Luck with Monty Banks was released on 11 May 1924, so the show needed to be after that.

Donna began her Bathing Girl Review in the fall of 1924 and played at Indiana theatres from February through May of 1925. My uncle Russell’s research indicated that Donna played in Terre Haute, IN, on 18 April 1925. I do not know where he got this information; however, this date fits in nicely with Donna’s itinerary being in Rushville, IN, on 26 March and Vincennes, IN, on 27 April.

Cinema Treasures indicates the Grand Opera House opened in 1907 and changed its name to the Grand Theatre when movies replaced live entertainment. This clipping shows that the name had changed by 1925 when it switched to having a film and vaudeville mix.

Terre Haute Saturday Spectator, 11 April 1925, Page 10. (via Newspaper Archives)

The 11 April Saturday Spectator[ii] ran an ad for The Grand Theatre showing the “Hollywood Motion Picture Bathing Girls featuring Donna Darling” to run all week starting Sunday. That ad suggests her show ran from 12 April to the 18th. Really interesting is that the Saturday Spectator of 18 April says that, “The Donna Darling Company will continue on the bill the remainder of the week. A change in songs, dances and costumes was made Thursday.” I had no idea that the show changed during the middle of a run.

Conclusion

During the week of 12-18 April 1925, Donna’s “Evolution of the Bathing Suit” played at the Grand Theatre in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Sources

[i] Wikipedia: Racing Luck (1924 film) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racing_Luck_(1924_film).

[ii] Terre Haute Saturday Spectator, April 11, 1925, Page 10 (Via Newspaper Archives).

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