My understanding of the early career of Donna Montran is filled with holes. We know that she married Thomas Rooney on November 23, 1915. I have only found one event in her life during 1916 and one in 1917. Both of these events took place in Massachusetts. It appears that she was still in Boston on January 27, 1918, but by the following month (February 1918), she had located to New York and began appearing on the “United Time.”
It is the April 10th issue of the New York Clipper[i] which gives us an indication that she probably had a bad experience. It reported:
MONTRAN AND KENNIER UNITE
Dinna Montran[ii], of musical comedy fame, and George Kennier, principal with “Very Good Eddie,” have framed a singing and dancing act for the Moss and Lowe Circuits.
Likewise, the April 17th issue of the New York Clipper[iii] reported:
George Kennier and Dinna Montran will put on a new singing and dancing act within the near future.
Then silence for over a year, from the New York Clipper, until October 22nd, 1919, when it reported:
Dora Montran opened with “Chin Chin” in Omaha last week.[iv]
What happened with Donna and her career from April 1918 until January 1919? It appears that her association with George Kennier was short-lived and went nowhere. My searches for George Kennier found nothing about such a show and I found nothing about him in the vaudeville news after it.
I think I need to add two in-depth research tasks.
- I need to know more about Donna’s second husband, Thomas Valentine Rooney. He married Donna in 1915 directed her in 1919. He also did scenery and other functions for Donna in 1920. He seems to fade away from Donna’s life in late 1920.
- I also need to add an in-depth research task to research George Kennier. There was a George Kennier who lived in Boston in 1915. Is this the same person? Donna was in Boston in 1915, so it is possible that they knew each other there and then started to put together a show in 1918. We will see what the research finds.
[i] New York Clipper – 10 April 1918, Page 6, Column 4, Paragraph 6 – “Montran and Kennier Unite.”
[ii] I have little doubt that “Dinna Montran” and “Donna Montran” are the same person. I don’t know if she was trying out using Dinna or if the paper got here name wrong. However, the Montran name is so unusual and another Montran who was known for musical comedy is very unlikely.
[iii] New York Clipper – 17 April 1918, Page 19, Column 2, Paragraph 10 – Kennier & Montran….
[iv] That report is just a little off. She joined “Chin Chin” on October 30th in Decatur, Illinois. “Chin Chin” didn’t play in Omaha until November 7th. Also, there never was another Montran with the “Chin Chin” show besides Donna.