Donna Darling Collection – Part 39

Treasure Chest Thursday
Vaudeville
by Don Taylor

Garrick Theatre

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Scrapbook. This page had two clippings, first was an ad for the Garrick Theater playing “Big Hollywood Revue of California Motion Picture BATHING BEAUTIES” featuring Donna Darling. The second is a short Theatrical Review showing Donna and “her bevy of California Bathing girls” opening at the Garrick Theater. Neither clipping indicates where or when the show played.

When

Donna ended her “Donna Darling and Earle” show in August 1924. In September 1924 she began her Motion Picture Bathing Beauties show. That show ran until about August 1925, which indicates that these clippings were from sometime between September 1924 thru August 1924. Both clippings mention that also playing was the silent film, “Sinner in Silk.” According to IMDB, “Sinner in Silk” was released on 1 September 1924.[i]  Silent films of that period seem to have only run a few months, so I believe that the clippings are from sometime between September to November 1924.

Where

From September 1924 and December 1924, Donna is known to have played in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.[ii] Cinema Treasures indicates 36 theaters that were named the Garrick Theater.[iii] Of those, only ten were in the four states Donna played in during that time.

  • Chicago, IL – The Garrick Theatre of Chicago operated from 1903 thru 1960. Yes.
  • Grand Rapids, MI – The Garrick Theatre of Grand Rapids was demolished before 1919. No.
  • Burlington, IA — The Rialto Theater was named the Garrick Theater until 1921. No.
  • Des Moines, IA – The President Theater was built as the Majestic Theatre and was renamed the Orpheum theater by January 1908. It was renamed the Garrick Theater and then the President Theater before it closed in 1929. It had previous names of Gayety Theatre and Garrick Theatre. Unclear.
  • Milwaukee, WI (1) – The Bijou Theater operated from 1889 to 1931. It apparently was also known as the Garrick sometime during that time. It had previous names of Gayety Theatre and Garrick Theatre. Unclear.
  • Milwaukee, WI (2) – The Star Theater was open from 1899 to 1909. It too had previous names of Gayety Theatre and Garrick Theatre. No.
  • Hurley, WI – The Rivoli Theater of Hurley opened in 1913 as the Temple Theatre. It became the Garrick Theatre in 1916 and became the Rivoli Theatre 1918. The theatre closed in 1927. No.
  • Madison, WI – The Madison Theatre – The Orpheum Theatre was renamed the Garrick Theatre in 1927. It was remodeled and renamed the Madison Theatre in 1936. No.
  • Fond du Lac, WI – The Fox Theater opened as the Henry Boyle Theatre in 1906. It closed and reopened in 1920 as the New Garrick Theatre. It was renamed the Fox Theatre in 1945. Yes.

That suggests there were four theaters that were in the states Donna played in during the time of the clippings of her playing at the Garrick Theatre; Chicago, IL, Des Moines, IA, Milwaukee, WI, and Fond du Lac, WI.

A review of newspapers at Newspapers.com indicated that the Garrick theater in Des Moines was a Burlesque house and all of their ads used a different font than Donna’s clipping used, so it is unlikely to be the Des Moines theater.

The Garrick Theater in Chicago during 1924 also used a different font and called itself the “Shubert Garrick,” so it is unlikely it was that theater either.

Newspapers.Com revealed that The Garrick Theatre in Milwaukee used “Garrick Theatre” in its advertising and also used a serif font. However, in reviewing Genealogy Bank for advertising, I found an ad for the Garrick that used the same font as Donna’s clipping. 

I was unsuccessful in finding any advertising for the Garrick Theatre in Fond du Lac at Newspapers.com or Genealogy Bank. There were several articles regarding the theatre in various other newspapers, but none of them were Fond du Lac papers and none had advertised the Garrick Theatre. As such, a created a search notification for any newly added Wisconsin papers from 1924 that refer to Garrick and “Fond du Lac.”

I did not find any results searching Elephind (Chronicling America).

However, in my searching Google for the Garrick Theater and Donna Darling, I encountered three new venues where Donna played. Orpheum Theater in Clinton, IA, the Capitol Theater in Kitchener, Ontario, and the Temple Theater in Brantford, Ontario on January 16-19, January 24-26, and January 27-29, 1927 respectively. I’ve added those to her list of venues for future research.

Conclusion

Donna played at a Garrick Theater, probably in the fall (September-November) of 1924, possibly in Illinois, Iowa, or Wisconsin. More research is necessary to pin down where and when. 

1924-09-01 to 1924-12-31 – Illinois, Iowa, or Wisconsin – Garrick Theater.

Newly Added:
January 16-19, 1927 – Clinton, IA – Orpheum Theater – Archives.Com
January 24-26, 1927 – Kitchener, Ont. Capitol Theater –  Archives.Com
January 27-29, 1927 – Brantford, Ont. Temple Theater – Archives.Com

Source

Donna Darling Collection – Scan 1514.


Endnotes

[i] Internet – Internet Movie Database (IMDb) – Entry for “Sinners in Silk” starring Conrad Nagel, Hedda Hopper, Eleanor Boardman, and Adolphe Menjou. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0015336/
[ii] Internet: Don Taylor Genealogy – The Life of Madonna Montran… /
[iii] Internet: CinemaTreasures.Org Search for Garrick

Donna Darling Collection – Part 38

Treasure Chest Thursday
Family Photos (1370)

By Don Taylor

Three photos of Donna

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Scrapbook. The page had five items pasted onto it.

Preparing to Dive

Donna Montran Preparing to Dive.

When she was young, Donna was an incredible beauty. She won the beauty contest at Madison Square Garden several years before Miss America began there.[i] She was also one of the Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties. I believe this first photo probably comes from either of those periods. Certainly, the photo shows how beautiful she was. The original of this photo was a cut-out of a photo. It was torn at the top. I clipped the photo, touched it up, and pasted it onto a new background.[ii]

Donna with a Parasol

Donna with a Parasol

Donna loved to dress and look pretty. In this photo, Donna is wearing what appears to be one of her many bathing suits and she carrying a parasol. It is probably from 1920 or 1921 when she was staring in “California Bathing Girls.” It is possibly from 1924-25 when she headlined the “Motion Picture Bathing Beauties” show. This photo appears to be a promotional photo and the mark at the bottom left indicates “This Week” which was a magazine at the time. I would love to review an archive of “This Week” magazines from 1920-1925, to see if there might be a better quality photo of Donna there.

Donna

Another photo of Donna on the scrapbook page showed Donna apparently with someone. However, the photo of Donna with the parasol was pasted over half of the photo. In this photo she appears to be a bit older and the photo is clearly not a promotional in nature.

Other Images

Finally, there is a photo of a marquee with Andrew Mack at the top and Donna Montran and her Bathing Girls are listed below.  I’m still not sure where that comes from.  Hopefully, I’ll figure it out as I continue my research on the Donna Darling Collection. I have not seen Andrew Mack in any of the playbills for Donna during her Bathing Girls days.[iii]

Future Actions

  • Find a source for “This Week” magazine for between 1920 and 1925 and review them for possible photos of Donna.
  • Determine the date and place of the Andrew Mack, Donna Montran marquee photo.

Sources

Donna Darling Collection – Scan 1370.

Endnotes

[i] My feeling is that Donna was “Miss America” 3 years before the first “Miss America” pageant.

[ii] To save space, the Donna Montran “Preparing to Dive” image presented here is a 150 dpi image. I have a 600 dpi image available.

[iii] I have a copy of the original scrapbook page showing the Marquee at 600 dpi, but I hope to include the image when I determine the place and date of the engagement.

“Chin-Chin” – Regina Theatre – Regina, Saskatchewan – April 15-17, 1920

Donna Montran
Chin-Chin
Vaudeville

We know that Chin-Chin played in Calgary, Alberta on January 8th through the 10th, but don’t know where it played on the 11th thru the 14th.  Possibly Saskatoon, they probably played in another city or two as well on their way to Regina.

A full twelve days before opening in Regina the first advertising began for “Chin-Chin.”

“CHIN-CHIN” HAS MELODIOUS AND ARTISTIC SETTINGS

Melodious, artistic and diverting is “Chin Chin,” scheduled for the Regina theatre for three days, commencing Thursday, January 15. To Walter Wills and Roy Binder are entrusted the principal parts, supported by a company of clever comedians and a beautiful chorus. In their songs “The Chinese Honeymoon, “Go Gar Sig Gong-Jue” and “Temple Bells,” the two clever comedians, Wills and Binder, make a decided bit and are always recalled again and again. In this charming fantasy with a Chinese atmosphere there are also a score of other songs that are the fascinating, whistling kind, and several unique dances that carry the snappy comedy along delightfully.

On January 9th, there was a standard “to the General Public” announcement similar to many of the “Chin-Chin” shows. On the 10th was a “What the Press Agents Say” article plus the first regular advertisements.

On January 14th, the day before the show, the Regina “Leader-Post” newspaper had a very interesting article containing background information regarding the Arabian Nights tales.

CHIN CHIN’ FANTASY
COMEDY KNOCKS’EM
ALL COLD AT REGINA

Charles Dillingham’s only company of “Chin Chin,” which comes to the Regina theatre tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, with a matinee on the latter day, with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the leading roles is founded upon the most popular tale in the immortall eastern Saga book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, Aladdin or the Wonderful Lamp.” In fact it is frankly called a modern Aladdin, in which the two drolls disport themselves as a couple of Chinamen. Chin Hop Lo and Chin Chop Hi. Outside of the Holy Bible there is perhaps existant no more universally popular book than this same Arabian Nights, one of the best known English versions of which, is by the late John Payne, well known to scholars for his powers in English Verse. His translation of the poems of Mas­ter Francois Villon remain a monu­ment to his genius.

The wonderful collection of Mos­lem folklore translated into every language known to civilization is
read with eagerness by each successive generation, but nowhere are the tales read or listened to with greater delight than in the Arabian desert itself, where travelers record as a common sight, Sheiks and white-beards sitting gravely in their places at evening around the camp fire, women and children motionless as silhouettes outside the ring, all breathless with attention as they drink in the words with eyes and mouths as well as ears. while the Rawi or reciter. to whose wit the task of supplying details is left, entertains the groups with picturesque and oriental effect.

In spite of the fact that Thomas Carlye called the Arabian Nights a pack of downright lies, it is incontrovertible that the general tone of The Nights is exceptionally high and pure and devotional fervor often rises to the boiling point of fanaticism. They have pathos, sweet, deep, and genuine; tender, simple and true. They depict life as strong and splendid, though everywhere flavored with that unaffected pessimism and constitutional melancholy which strikes its deepest root under the brightest skies.

The whole of the stories are dominated everywhere by that marvelous oriental fancy wherein the spiritual and the supernatural are so common as the material and natural

“Chin-Chin” continued east to play the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on January 19-24.

Once again, Donna played “The Goddess of the Lamp” in “Chin-Chin.” She was not mentioned by name in any of the Regina newspaper articles that I found, however, her role in the production was mentioned.

Regina Theater

Regina Theatre, Regina, SK (ca 1939)

The Regina Theatre was built in 1909 and opened on February 7, 1910. Some references indicate it a capacity of 870 seats[i], but according to the “Cahn-Leighton Theater Guide[ii] for 1913-1914” it had a seating capacity of 809.  The theatre closed in 1929 after a fire and was demolished in 1939.[iii]

Theater Statistics

Seating Capacity: 809 Total
Lower Floor: 445
Balcony:         258
Gallery:          60
Boxes:            46

Proscenium opening was 30×20
Footlights to back wall: 28ft
Between the sidewalls: 55 ft
Apron: 3 ft
Rigging Loft: 34 feet
Fly Gallery: 17 feet

There were 9 dressing rooms
Barney Groves was the manager

Further Research:

Determine the activities of the Chin-Chin cast immediately before and immediately after playing at the Regina Theatre.

Article Sources:

The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) · Sat, Jan 3, 1920 · Page 17 via Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/495428769

The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) · Sat, Jan 3, 1920 · Page 17 via Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/495430011


Endnotes:

[i] Internet: Wikipedia – Regina Theatre (Saskatchewan) – Wikipedia, et al – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regina_Theatre_(Saskatchewan)

[ii] Source: The Cahn-Leighton official theatrical guide. (1913). New York, N.Y: Publication Office, New Amsterdam Theatre Building.

[iii] See note i above.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 37

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Fay’s Theater – Providence, Rhode Island

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a set of clippings from the Donna Darling Collection. First, we see she received top billing of “Great Acts of Vaudeville.” Her show, “Dona [sic] Montran and her Bathing Beauties” included “Eight beautiful California girls from the Golden Gate displaying the coming summer fashions at the beaches; a carload of scenery and a satchel full of costumes. 


My immediate questions were where and when. This was the first large ad I’ve seen for a theatre where Donna played that didn’t provide the name of the theater. The when was pretty easy. The bill includes the 1920 silent short, “Wedding Blues,” which IMDB indicates was released on November 28, 1920. Also, Donna began her “California Bathing Girls” show in July 1920 and it ran until May or June of 1921.


A second ad provides information about where. The ad says Donna Montran is coming Monday 8.  It isn’t clear what the 8 means, but, if it means date, then it fits that it would mean Monday,  November 8th. I’ve seen cases before where IMDB is wrong about the release date, so I’m not too concerned about the inconsistency.

Another clipping on the same page provides a bit more insight. It reads, in part, “The act held the stage at the Broadway Theatre, New York for ten consecutive weeks coming direct to Newport from Fay’s in Providence where it established a new record for attendance.

Key features:

  • The date is possibly 8 November, but more likely December 1920 or January 1921.
  • The venue is the Fay’s Theatre, Providence, RI
  • The show is the “Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties. “
  • Also, on bill
    • “Wedding Blues” with the Christie Follies Girls

Analysis

I have searched all of the on-line newspaper sources I could to determine an exact date for her playing in either Providence or Newport – Ancestry.com, Chronicling America (using Elephind), Genealogy Bank, Google News Archive, Newspaper Archives, Newspapers.com, etc.  Search as I may, I was unsuccessful in finding an on-line source for newspapers from that time. The closest I found was the Google News Archive and it has a gap in coverage from Oct 8 thru Nov 15, 1920.

Conclusion

Nov 8-10 (Possibly later) – Fay’s Theatre, Providence, RI – Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties. 

Actions

According to the Library of Congress, “US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present” the following Libraries hold the Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.) 1920 issues, typically in microfilm form.

  • Boston Pub Libr, Boston, MA
  • Brown Univ, Providence, RI
  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC
  • Rhode Island Hist Soc Libr, Providence, RI
  • Univ of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
  • Wisconsin Hist Soc, Newsp Proj, Madison, WI

I will try to visit the Boston Public Library the next time I am in Boston and see if I can find newspaper article or advertising that proves the dates she played at Fay’s Theater in Providence. Alternately, I’ll add this article to my (lengthly) list of tasks when I can visit Washington DC.

Sources

Donna Darling Collection – Scan0071.

“Chin Chin” in Regina, January 15, 1920

Donna In the News
Montran Monday
 

“Donna in the News” is my reporting of newly found newspapers articles and advertising regarding my grandmother, Madonna Montran (aka Donna Montran and aka Donna Darling). I am always excited when I find a new venue of my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.

 Article

I discovered several articles in the “Leader-Post” (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) that are newly available at Newspapers.com. The articles showed that “Chin Chin” played at the Regina Theatre for 3 days starting January 15, 1920. Because of those newly available online articles, I was able to add another venue for Donna’s “Chin Chin” tour.

New information added to her career list:

Jan 15-17, 1920 – Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada – Regina Theater