Donna Darling Collection – Part 48

Two Venues & Two Photos of Russell

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at image DSCN1422 from the Donna Darling Collection. The image consists of four items. Two are articles and two photographs.

Two articles

1.  Keeney’s Livingston, Brooklyn, N. Y.

(Reviewed Thursday Evening, April 8)

From the Donna Darling Collection

… Donna Darling Company., four shapely, pretty misses, in songs and dances in full stage with special drapes, brings the show to a bang-up close. The act opens with three girls dancing, followed by Miss Darling in a song, then a gypsy dance by one of the girls, followed by a toe dance by another of them, and then two of them in a wooden shoe Dutch characterization dance, Miss Darling returning for a Hawaiian dance. A trio then puts over a song after which much applause and a brief announcement preceding a change of costume, Miss Darling presents what she calls Lightening Up the Charleston, done by all four members of the act Garbed in Luminous Costumes that glow when the lights are out. It’s a tricky bit.

JACK F. MURRAY.

April 8th was a Thursday in 1926, so the date is definite. The location and the theater are also given. Hopefully, future research will provide answers for the duration.

I added a new venue added to Donna’s Career: April 8 – Keeney’s Livingston Theater, Brooklyn, NY – Donna Darling Revue.

2.  Darling Revue Has Top Place on State Bill

Donna Darling Collection

Perhaps it is because this happens to be the season of Lent. Anyway, the vaudeville programs at the State Theater these days are very good and increasing size of audiences at the matinee and evening performances is proof of this assertation.

The Bill this week is no exception. Lead the fine array of talent is the act in which the Darling Revue strive to keep patrons interested. That they succeed was demonstrated in the liberal applause they received yesterday afternoon. Their specialty is singing and dancing. The numbers containing much that is original and enjoyable. The dances include the clog, toe and gypsy steps and the songs are of a varied nature….

I note that the other acts on the bill include the “Metropolitan Trio,” “Love and King,” “Chick & Dog,” and “William & Perry.” “Queen O’ Diamonds” with Evelyn Brent is the feature picture.

“Queen O’ Diamonds” was released on 24 January 1926, which places the show in 1926.[i] Lent runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter. In 1926 this was from February 17th to April 4th. Easter was on April 4, 1926.

I haven’t previously found a date for Donna to have been at a State Theater during Lent of 1926.[ii]

New Venue Added:  Between 17 Feb 1926 and 4 April 1926 – Unknown Location – State Theater – Darling Revue – DDC-48.

Two Photographs

Interestingly the two articles from this page of the Donna Darling Collection were from 1926; however, neither of the photographs are. Both photos are clearly of Donna’s son, Russell. Russell was born in August 1927. In both cases, he appears to be about three years old, so I estimate the photos to be ca. 1930.

Russell with two unknown boys during the summer (ca. 1930?)
Russell in a child’s Indian headdress. (ca. 1930?)

Sources

[i] IMDB Queen o’ Diamonds (1926) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017301/

[ii] Internet: The Life of Madonna Montran http://dontaylorgenealogy.com/donna-montran/

 

Donna in the News — 5 New Venues!

“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 for my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.

This week, from Newspapers.com, I learned of five new venues for Donna.

From the Brooklyn Times Union (Brooklyn, NY) dated 25 January 1921, I learned that Donna Montran and her “California Bathing Beauties” were booked into the Keeney Theatre.  The dates and length of the booking is unclear but I now know she was there in late January 1921.

The York Daily Record (York, PA) dated 4 April 1922, indicates that Donna Darling played at the York Opera House.  The dates suggested are April 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  Those dates are in conflict with other items I’ve found indicating that on April 3rd, 4th, and 5th Donna played in Johnstown, PA.  Further investigation is needed on this topic.

From the Morning Call (Paterson, NJ)) dated 4 December 1922, I learned that Dona [sic] Darling and Boys played the Majestic Theatre on the 4th, 5th, and 6th, of December 1922.

Of particular interest, the Winona (MN) Daily News indicated that “Donna Darling and Earle” played at the Strand Theatre on May 12th and 13th 1923.  This booking fits into a large gap I’ve had in her work.

Back to the Brooklyn (NY) Times Union, this time dated 5 May 1928. In that issue, I learned that Donna Darling and Somory [sic] Clark played at the Majestic Theatre in Brooklyn.  Again, it is unclear what the exact dates were, but I know it was in May 1928.

Additions to Donna’s Career History

  1. Jan 25-?, 1921 – Brooklyn, New York – Keeney Theatre – Donna Montran and her “California Bathing Beauties.”
  2. April 3-5, 1922 – York, PA – York Opera House – Donna Darling & Boys – Conflict.
  3. December 3-5, 1922 – Paterson, NJ – Majestic Theatre – Donna and Boys.
  4. May 12-13, 1923 – Winona, Minnesota – Strand Theatre – “Donna Darling and Earle.”
  5. May 5, 1928 – Brooklyn, New York – Majestic Theatre – Donna Darling and Sammy Clark.

I will further research these performances and theatres in future postings. I currently have 110 performance events to still write about and research.

Donna Montran & “Chin Chin” at the Empire Theatre, Saskatoon, SK

Donna Montran & “Chin Chin” at the Empire Theatre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada on January 12th thru 14th, 1920

Vaudeville – Chin Chin – Donna Montran

It was a hectic week before. The “Chin Chin” company played in Medicine Hat on the 5th and 6th, in Lethbridge on the 7th, and Calgary the 8th through the 10th.  After seven days of shows in three cities, I hope the cast received the 11th off, because the crew would do three days at the Empire Theatre in Saskatoon[i] before continuing on to another three days (the 15th thru the 17th) in Regina. Saskatoon was bitter cold that week.  When the cast arrived on the 12th the high temperature for that day was a balmy 28 degrees Fahrenheit. That night the temperature dropped to two degrees and continued to drop to five degrees below the night of the 13th. When the cast left on the morning of the 15th, the temperature was still below zero.[ii]

The first newspaper advertising I’ve found was 9 days before the show. On January 3rd, 1920, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, on page 10, column 3, the last article reported that the “Dreams of Arabian Nights Realized in ‘Chin Chin.’”

DREAMS OF ARABIAN NIGHTS
      REALIZED IN “CHIN CHIN”

Star-Phoenix – Jan 3, 1920

Coming to the Empire theatre on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 12, 13 and 14, is Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin” the musical comedy which is one of those tales of love and wishing common to the Arabian Nights. All impossibilities are crowded into it, jumbled together like the figures in a dream, and in the end it resolves itself into a vehicle for the display of the clever grotesqueries of the two clever “turn” artist, Walter Wills and Roy Binder. Mr. Binder gives us a rapid succession Chin Hop Low, the widow, a Coolie, and the Ring Master, lightning changes of mood, manner and get-up that provoke the audience to mirth. No more diverting and entertaining “comics” have come this way for many seasons.

In the same paper, on page 3, was a display ad for the coming show. On the 5th was another display ad and on the 7th was another text story about “CHIN CHIN” COMING. The 10th and the 12th had similar articles and displays.

Reviews

On the 13th, the day after the show’s opening, both the Saskatoon Daily Star and the Saskatoon Star Phoenix had articles that included callouts about Donna.

The Daily Star wrote, “Outstand among the other principals were Donna Montran as the goddess of the lamp, Neva Larry….”

The Star Phoenix wrote, “Donna Montran has a nice voice and puts two very pretty songs across to advantage. Star Dunham.…”

Theater

Empire Hotel & Theatre c. 1918.

The Empire Theatre opened in 1910 as a live stage venue. It was built as an addition to the existing Empire Hotel. In 1914, the theatre was equipped with screen films, keeping it current. In 1930, the theater was sold, converted to full-time motion pictures, and renamed the Victory Theatre.[iii]

Specifications for the Empire Theatre

Seating Capacity: 1,154 Total — 442 on the floor, 276 in the balcony, 400 in the gallery, and 36 in boxes.[iv]

Proscenium opening: 27×32 ft
Front to back wall: 22 ft

Nearby info

Map of Saskatoon from “Vaudeville Trails” (c) 1919 by Herbert Lloyd

Nearby, the Elite Café (#2 on map), which was a block from the theatre, advertised that they catered to performers. About two blocks away was the Hub Café (#1 on map) which touted Yankee Coffee and that “All the Acts Ate Here Last Week.” The Canadian National Railway station was about two blocks from the venue and the Canadian Pacific Railway station was another block or so further.[v]

What happened to theater

During the 1960s the brick exterior was clad in marble. Today, the theatre building is part of “The Lighthouse,” which provides long-term housing for 68 people.[vi]

Empire Hotel & Theatre building is now the Dubé Lighthouse

Endnotes

[i] I learned that Donna played Saskatoon last January and wrote about that in a “Donna in the News” post.

[ii] Internet:  Government of Canada Environment and natural resourcesWeather, Climate and HazardPast weather and climateHistorical Data for Saskatoon, SK in January 1920.

[iii] Internet: Cinema Treasures – Victory Theatre, 221 20th Street East, Saskatoon, SK S6V 1K7. cinematreasures.org/theaters/29392 accessed 14 May 2019.

[iv] Cahn-Leighton Official Theatrical Guide – Volume XVII – 1913-1914. (via Google Books)

[v] Vaudeville Trails – Thru the West – © 1919 by Herbert Lloyd, (AKA: Herbert Lloyd’s Vaudeville Guide) pages 179 and 180

[vi] Internet: The Lighthouse Supported Living – The History of The Lighthouse. https://www.lighthousesaskatoon.org/about/history/  – Accessed 14 May 2019.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 47

Loew’s Theater, London, Ont & More

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Collection. The page includes two photos, one ad for the Bijou, one non-descript ad, and two articles about Donna and Sammy playing at Lowe’s.

Lowe’s Theatre – “Seven Sinners”

The only item identified with a date is the clipping for Loew’s Theatre – “Seven Sinners”.  It indicates June 24, 25, 26 and “Ont.) IMDB indicates that the movie was released on 7 November 1925 in the USA. That would suggest the film played at Loew’s in June 1926.

Donna and Sammy played at the Capitol Theater in Kitchener on June 21, 22, & 23, so it fits that after Kitchener they went the 110km (68 miles) to London to play at the Loew’s Theatre there.

The first article reads:

LOEW’S THEATRE
“SEVEN SINNERS”

Dona Darling, former Zeifield Follies girl, heads an all-star vaudeville cast at Loew’s Theatre the last half of this week, and together with the famous crook story, “Seven Sinners,” as the feature picture, London theatregoers are treated to a perfectly balanced theatre bill. Mary Prevost makes a crook really too pleasant to be natural, and Clive Brook, the hero, is an excellent parallel.

The story is interesting in its novelty; everybody in it is a crook, but everybody manages to enlist the sympathies of the audience before the picture ends. The settinsg [sic] show careful choosing and the plot development is well worked out. The story consists of the efforts of seven crooks to steal jewels from a deserted mansion, and then, when the house is quarantined with them inside it, the owner returns. Situations develop which are in turn funny and tense, until, at the end, crooks are probed to be sometimes nearly human, after all.

The vaudeville bill is exceptionally fine. It is seldom that London audiences have the pleasure of seeing such smooth aerial performancers as the Aerial Smiths on the same bill as the act given by Dave Fox and Jane Allyn. This is a comedy skit of unusual merit entitled, “To Let.” The last act on the bill, the Darling and Clark Revue, has five very capable performers. The dancing in the first part is especially good.

The second clipping appears to have been clipped without the information about the motion picture.  The clipping says:

AT THE THEATERS

LOEW’S

The trapeze work of the vaudeville program is carried out by the Aerial Smiths. It is said of them that they have been a long time at it, and it can be said for them that they haven’t wasted their time. They make other acts of their kind look like the last rose of summer, especially when the climax is reached and the woman shoots out on a trapeze that suddenly lengthens as she swings in mid-air.

Fox and Allen entertain with songs and patter based upon an unsatisfactory search for an apartment in a big town. They seem to please and draw to themselves a generous amount of the applause.

The Darling and Clark Revue is not the kind that deals exclusively in dancing. It has that, too, but it also has other features equally as entertaining, including songs, whistling, a clever recitation and a darkened-stage novelty. The whole is permeated with the personality of Miss Darling, there are five persons.

The third item is a simple ad for Donna and Sammy and “Their New Revue.”  There is no theatre mentioned but it reminds us that Donna was “The Scintillating Beauty” and Sammy was the “Juvenile Komik.”

Next, are two photos that appear to shoe the entire cast of the Darling and Clark Revue. It looks like one photo was taken by Donna and includes Sammy as the third person from the left. The second one looks like it was taken by Sammy and has Donna as the third person from the left. I am quite certain the other three people in these photos are the other members of the show. I will need to do a little more research to determine what their names were.

The Darling & Clark Revue Cast – 1926  (Including Donna)

The Darling & Clark Revue Cast – 1926 (Including Sammy)

Finally, there is an ad for “Decatur’s Favorite – The Bijou”  It mentions three vaudeville acts: Donna Darling and Sammy Clare [sic] Revue “A Modern Vaudeville Frolic” Donna & Sammy’s show is playing with Paul & Darling “Two Broadway Rounders” and Billy De Armo doing a comedy novelty show. It wouldn’t be clear why this clipping would be on the same page with the Loew’s Theatre clippings unless you knew that Donna and Sammy played at the Bijou Theatre in Decatur, IL only eight days later.

Conclusion

I was able to add a new venue to Donna’s Career.  She and Sammy played June 24 to 26, 1924, in their “Darling and Clark Revue” at Loew’s Theatre in London, Ontario, Canada.

I was also able to add images I suspect are the three other performers in the show.

Finally, I was able to add another advertising clipping to Donna and Sammy’s show at the Bijou Theatre in Decatur, IL.

Actions

Research the other three individuals who play in the Darling and Clark Revue.

Sources

Donna Darling Collection – Image DSCN1428.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 46

Treasure Chest Thursday
Vaudeville
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at “DSCN1419” from the Donna Darling Collection. There were five items on this page.

Loew’s … On the Stage – Donna Darling The Scintillating Beauty in “Her Jewel Review” and two other big acts.

The accompanying movie was Constance Talmadge in “Her Sister from Paris.” There were many Loew’s Theatre’s, so it isn’t clear which of the 147 Loew’s theatres this one was[i].

The second and third clippings provide the answer. One is a long, thin page header which indicates, “London Evening Advertiser, Friday, February 26, 1926.” The other is an article, “At the Theatres,” which describes what was playing at Loew’s Theatre. Together, with the advertisement clipping, they show Donna played at the Loew’s Theatre in London, Ontario, from February 25th through the 27th, 1926.

Donna Darling Revue is one of the best dancing and singing acts seen at Loew’s for some time. All the girls are beautiful, and they can dance. Miss Darling proves her versality by appearing in four different roles, singing and dancing in each. A splendid selection of costume dances brings calls for many encores and on the whole the girls prove a huge success.

Further searching on Cinema Treasures, indicated there was a Loew’s Theater, which was built in 1924, existed in London Ontario.  I know that Donna played at the Capitol Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, from February 8th through the 13th, and at the Colonial Theatre in Detroit from February 28th through March 3rd, so her playing in London between them makes sense.

Sammy Clark, c. Feb 1926.

The fourth image was one of her dog. The photo was severely damaged over time and not worth trying to clean it up.

The final image was one of her husband, Sammy. It is a lovely photo that adds to my collection of Sammy photos. Long coat, hat, gloves, he looks so gangster from the 1920s. He clearly dressed in the style of the mid-1920s.

Conclusion

February 25-27, 1926 – Loew’s Theatre, London, Ontario – Donna Darling in “Her Jewel Revue” added to Donna’s list of performances.

Actions

  • Research Loew’s Theatre in London, Ontario and write about her show there and the theatre.

Sources

[i] Internet: Cinema Treasures – Search for Loew theatres. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters?q=Loew&status=all