I found an article in the Boston Globe (via Newspapers.com) about the contest. That article was on the front page of the 11 December 1916 issue of the Boston Globe, Page 1. The quality of the image is a little clearer than the image from the Boston Post (via Newspaper Archives). I updated the post with both images side by side.
Got to love the vocabulary used in old newspapers. “Pulchritude” is the kind of word that if you Google it, you can see how many on-line dictionaries there are. It is a big word for a common thing. Check it out for yourself.
Boston Post, 12 Dec 1916
Via Newspaper Archive
Boston Globe, 12 Dec 1916
In a previous article, I mentioned that Donna tried out to become the “Miss Boston” representative at the big preparedness bazaar to be held at the Grand Central Palace in New York. Well, I found another article about the contest Donna was involved in. According to the “Boston Post” of December 12, 1916, more than 50 girls had already tried out for Miss Boston and a “big rush” of over 100 more girls was expected. The Post’s article included photos of ten of the girls vying for Miss Boston. You never guess who the first girl shown in the article was? One of two girls on page one was grandma, Donna Montran. This newspaper photo is one of the earliest photos we have of Donna as a closeup. The article goes on to say that Donna is a blonde even though the photo doesn’t look that way.
The paper printed the names and addresses of the applicants. Imagine what would happen today if a newspaper published the home addresses of 49 pulchritude contestants. In December 1916, Donna was living at 64 Bennett in Brighton (Boston), MA.
By the way, “preparedness bazaar” referred to actions to prepare the United States for entry into World War I. The United States didn’t enter the war until four months later, on 6 April 1917. However, in December 1916, businessmen, intent on making money on the war, promoted military preparedness and the beauty contests were part of their strategy to create hype to encourage the US to enter the war.
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor
Donna Montran – Ill and Injured
The Donna Darling Collection has a page that included four little clippings. None of the four were dated. Elsewhere on that scrapbook page are articles regarding Donna’s playing at the Cosmos Theater in Washington DC in March. (More about that in another post.)
ILL AND INJURED [Transcript]
“Dave Kramer (Kramer and Boyle dislocated his knee in stepping out of an automobile. The team were forced to cancel the last half of last week as a result. (April 21)”
“Bill Vidocq. Keith agent, has returned from Lakewood and is back on the fifth floor of the Keith Exchange.
“Illness beset the Donna Montra [sic] and Bathing Girls Revue last week twofold when Juva Marconi dislocated her hip while dancing, causing her confinement in the Lankanau Hospital, Philadelphia. Later in the week Miss Montran, the prima donna of the company, underwent a nose and throat operation in New York.
[Globe Theatre, Philadelphia, May 16]
“Donna Montran, who with her Bathing Beauties was forced to cancel some time through the necessity of an operation recently, has fully recovered and opens at the Globe theatre, Philadelphia, for a return engagement, May 16.”
“Ann Troy, dancer, has replaced Juva Marconi in the Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties act.”
[Donna Takes Summer Off]
“Donna Montran closed her Bathing Beauties act last week and will rest up for the summer. She will appear in production next season.”
In April 1920, Donna was still performing with “Chin-Chin” in Maryland.
In March 1921, Donna was performing “Donna Montran and her California Bathing Beauties.”
By April 1922, Donna had changed her stage name to “Donna Darling.”
So, we know that “ILL AND INJURED” must be referring to 1921.
April 21 was the last half of the week of April 17 to 23. That means that Juva Marconi must have dislocated her hip sometime around April 17 to 19 and that Donna must have gone to New York for her surgery about 20th or 21st.
In Clipping 2, we learn the Donna and her Bathing Beauties opened at the Globe Theatre, Philadelphia on May 16.
In Clipping 3, we learn that Ann Troy replaced Juva Marconi in the show.
In Clipping 4, we learn that the show closed for the summer. It is unclear when that occurred.
What I learned:
Donna and her Bathing Beauties, including Juva Marconi, must have been playing in Philadelphia or somewhere near Philadelphia the week of 17 April 1921. Possibly the Globe Theatre.
Donna went to New York for nose and throat surgery about 20 April 1920.
Donna and her Bathing Beauties “returned” to the Globe theatre on May 16.
Donna and her Bathing Beauties closed sometime after May 16 for the summer.
Consequent to the above, I have updated the Donna Montran Timeline to include the following:
April 17, 1921 – Unknown Theater near Philadelphia (Possibly the Globe Theatre).
May 16, 1921 – Globe Theatre, Philadelphia, PA – Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties.
Date unknown [May, June, or July 1921] – Donna Closed the Show for the Summer.
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor
For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a large clipping from the Donna Darling Collection. Initially, it covered two pages in the scrapbook. I was able to take the two pages, crop them, then join them together using Photoshop Elements. The seam between the two images isn’t too bad.
During my recent research using Newspapers.Com, I learned that Donna and Sammy played at the Columbia Theater in Phoenix, Arizona, September 30th thru October 3rd, 1926. Now I can put these images with my newspaper images and write about the show sometime in the future.
Columbia Today – Vaudeville Clipping
Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark.
The Five Vaudeville Road Show Acts
Colonial Princess Winona – Indian Prima Donna
Curtis & Lawrence in “Is that the Custom”
Donna Darling Review with Sammy Clark A Riot of Beauty and Melody
Zhun & Dreis “Dementus Americanos—Habitat North America”
Morrell & Elynor Featuring the Charleston on Skates – Beauty Grace Speed
For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at several vaudeville clippings from three different pages of the Donna Darling Collection. All of them relate to the Colonial Theater. One to the Colonial Theater in Lancaster, PA. The second one the Colonial Theater in Washington DC, and the third Colonial theater in Detroit, MI. Determining the various locations and dates was challenging but led to new words for my vocabulary and some amazing finds.
Lancaster, PA – Colonial Theater
The first venue was easy to analyze. Donna wrote on the clipping “Lancaster Pa Apr. 15.” It appears that she also wrote “Intelligence.” but I have no idea what that might mean in this context.
Colonial – Keith Vaudeville – Best in the World Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday—April 17, 18, 19 Special Easter Show Miss Donna Daring and Co…. Bruce Morgan and Tom Moran, Valentine Vox, Transfield Sisters, [Movie] “Haunted Spooks: A Two-reel Lloyd Comedy…
PROGRAM AT COLONIAL STARTS WITH WHIRL
Yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s program at the Colonial Theatre, opened with a whirl at last evening’s show. “A Song, A Dance and a Cocktail,” was the feature of the show. Miss Dona Darling eclipsed the limelight in brightness, wit and personality of exceptional quality combined with a vein of rascality that had the audience in constant bursts of amusement.
The rest of the program….
Donna Darling and Company was a show that she had during 1922. A quick check of a 1922 calendar confirmed that April 17th, 18th, and 19th, were Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in 1922. Then on Cinema Treasures, I confirmed that there was once a Colonial Theater in Lancaster, PA. It opened before 1914 and later became the Boyd Theater. Besides the newspaper ad there were two short write-ups regarding the show. This was a new date and location for me. Of particular interest is that the newspaper clearly says, “Donna Daring.” This is a new search parameter for me to use in the future.
Washington, DC – Colonial Theater
Colonial Theater – Two Shows 2 P.M., 7:30 Tom Rooney Presents Donna Montran and Her California Bathing Beauties presenting “A Classy Beach Promenade” An Up to the Minute Musical Tabloid A Carload of Scenery and Fetching Costumes
Also, on the bill:
Little Dolly Dimples and her “Man O’ Wars Man”
Taylor & Brown – Daring Doings Herbert Trainor – Pleasing Magic Davis & Kidaire “Make ‘em Smile Boys” [Movie] Alice Calhoun Vtagraph [sic] Favorite in Princess Jones (6 Parts)
The second clipping was dated March 15th. Donna still went by Montran and she did her California Bathing Beauties in 1921. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of March 1921 were the 14th, 15th, and 16th. Her mentioning it was the Washington papers that the ad ran in, tightens the location to the Colonial Theater in Washington, DC.
Detroit, MI – Colonial Theater
Featured in Vaudeville
The following features are announced for the week by the leading vaudeville houses:
Temple –May Wirth….
Colonial – A beautifully stages singing and dancing act in a futuristic version of the nether regions[ii], offered by Donna Darling, former Follies performer, is to headline the vaudeville. Miss Darling and Sammy Clark are both well known stars of terpischore[iii] and are assisted in the act by Barring, Lazure and Hal Dixon. Other acts include…. The Colonial announces a special New Year’s eve show, starting at midnight.
This third clipping confused me a bit. I misread the last sentence which says, “The Colonial announces a special New Year’s eve show, starting at midnight.” I misread that it to mean the special show was while Donna was playing there. I searched and searched for a place that had both a Temple Theater and a Colonial Theater. I could only find two places, Chicago and Detroit. Being in Detroit during the holidays made sense as Donna’s mother lived there. I found she played at the Palace Theater in Rockford during Christmas and at the Orpheum in Des Moines in New Years. During my search I used many new search parameters to look for Donna. I ended up finding well over a hundred new dates and venues. It was truly amazing what I found. I have added the new dates and venues to my Donna Montran page.
I eventually came to the conclusion that the note regarding a New Year’s Eve show doesn’t apply to Donna’s show.
Three new dates and venues directly identified because of Donna’s Colonial Theater clippings.
Mar 14-16, 1921 – Washington, DC – Colonial Theatre – Donna Montran and her California Bathing Beauties. DDC Part 27
April 17-19, 1922 – Lancaster, PA – Colonial – Donna Daring and Co., DDC Part 27
December 19, 1926 – Detroit, Michigan – Colonial – Donna Darling Revue – DDC Part 27 – Also see: Genealogy Bank
There were also over 100 new dates and performance venues I discovered while doing this research. They have been applied to the Donna Montran Vaudeville Page.
Genealogy Bank was used extensively during this research.
Further search my newspaper sources for “Donna Daring.”
[i] I have cropped and sized all images for the web – Original scan’s available.
[ii] Wikipedia – Hell, the Underworld, or any place of darkness or eternal suffering
[iii] [sic] “terpischore” should be terpsichore – Wikipedia – In Greek mythology, Terpsichore (/tərpˈsɪkəriː/; Τερψιχόρη) “delight in dancing” was one of the nine Muses and goddess of dance and chorus. She lends her name to the word “terpsichorean” which means “of or relating to dance”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terpsichore
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I looked at several clippings from the same page of the Donna Darling Collection. Two of them relate to the 23rd Street Theater, One to the 125th Street theater and three mini-clippings that seem unrelated.
DONNA DARLING and CO. (2) Songs and Dances 22 Mins.; Full Stage (Special Hanging) 23rd St.
Donna Darling is a blond miss of fair voice supported by two male dancers in a neatly devised offering enhanced by colorful hangings.
The opening in “one” before a gold and black drop includes “Tell Me Pretty Maiden” and Silver Lining,” followed by a Pat Rooney impersonation by one of the boys. The parting of the curtains discloses attractive full stage hangings following the gold and black color scheme, the featured member appearing in a crinoline gown, for bits of old-fashioned numbers, including piano playing.
The turn drags at the point, especially with the first old-time songs. The boys return in Colonial costumes for a minuet by the trio, followed by a soft shoe and jazz stepping by the male team. Miss Darling then offers a light operatic number followed by a solo stepping hit by one of the boys and a triple tin soldier and doll specialty. A wedding number with one of the chaps as the minister tops off the turn.
The act is a flash for the three-a-day. At times chances for the bigger houses are displayed. The male dancers display ability with Miss Darling, securing fair returns vocally. The turn is running over time at present. With some pruning should improve materially.
The next clipping is an encapsulation of the entire show. There were seven vaudeville acts
The first hall bill….
… Donna Darling and Co. (New Acts) were the proper kind of a flash for the closing position, holding the audience and securing applause returns.
There was nothing in either article that suggested where the 23RD St. theater is nor when the show played. At the bottom of the scrapbook page was a small ad for F.F.Proctor’s. It shows that the 23rd St. theater is near 6th Ave. It also shows that Donna Darling & Co. was at the 125th St. Theater between Park and Lexington.
I was a bit confused, because of the differences between the 23rd St. and 125th St. theaters, but from the ads I knew they were New York. Also, Donna Darling & Co. was a 1922 production.
I began searching Newspapers.Com and quickly found the identical ad, in “The Evening World” (New York, New York) · Fri, May 26, 1922 · Page 26, which showed her playing at the 125th St Theater. This ad is really significant. Family oral history says that once upon a time, Donna was proposed to by Bert Lahr, later famous for his role as the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.” This ad, suggests that Donna and Bert Lahr at least knew each other as they played at the same theater at the same time.
Then, using Elephind, I found, on the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection (UIUC), The New York Clipper which on May 24, 1922, page 21, reported that Dona [sic] Darling Co. played at 23rd St, the first half of the week of May 22nd . The Clipper also reported that Donna played at B. F. Keith Vaudeville in Jersey City the first half of the following week (May 29th thru 31st).
The New York Clipper, on May 31, 1922, page 11, reported that Donna Darling and Company played at 125th Street theater the last half of the week (June 1, 2, & 3) at Proctor’s 125th Street. That issue had a nice write-up saying:
Donna Darling and Company had a neat offering. Miss Darling is dainty in looks, manners and voice and in her routine of songs showed herself thoroughly conversant. In the “My Hero” number she evidently lacked confidence but regained her composure in short order for the rest of the act. In old fashioned crinoline costume, she sang portions of old song favorites and finished with a brief session at the piano. The company, consisting of two clever young men dancers and singers were dressed appropriate to the period. Miss Darling looked best in pink, and in the wedding ceremony showed clever footwork in eccentric dancing, also in the mechanical toy dance, in which Miss Darling was a lively doll.
The June 7th Clipper adds a lot to the story. It includes a picture of Donna, Murray Walker, and Jack Finney and a caption that they closed Proctor’s 58th Street and are taking a 5-week vacation. The newspaper copy image isn’t very good, but it is something. It suggests that Donna Darling & Company played Proctor’s 58th Street from June 4th to June 6th.
Finally, there were three little clippings in Donna’s scrapbook. They too came from the June 7th, Clipper. One said:
Donna Darling left for Detroit, her home town, this week, where she will undergo an operation for the removal of tonsils.
The second clip says
Murray Walker is leaving for Canada this week for a month’s rest.
And the third,
Jack Finney is going to Philadelphia this week to visit his folks for a month before reopening with Donna Darling.
When I was young, I was often plagued with tonsillitis. Removal or keeping tonsils seems to have undergone sweeps each way. Some years they were kept if at all possible, other years they yanked them out. I recall talking with Donna and my mother about my tonsils and I remember Donna saying hers had been removed and it was no big thing. But we were poor and had no health insurance, so I kept mine. But back in 1922, Donna was 29 years old, and doing well. So, even though she was older than typical, she had her tonsils removed — maybe they were affecting her singing.
Discovering four more venues for Donna’s career is a good week for research. Being reminded of her tonsillectomy and learning that she actually did take vacations during her vaudeville years was good to find out. And finally, confirming that she actually would have known Bert Lahr, and the story of his proposal to Donna might be true, is priceless.
May 22-24, 1922 – F.F. Proctor’s 23rd Street Theater (at 6th Avenue) New York, NY – Donna Darling & Co.
May 29-31, 1922 – B.F. Keith’s Vaudeville, Jersey City, NJ – Donna & Co.
June 1-3, 1922 – F. F. Proctor’s 125th Street (Park & Lex) New York, NY – Donna Darling & Company.
June 4-6, 1922 – F.F. Proctor’s 58th Street Theater, New York – Donna Darling & Company.
June 7 until about July 10, 1922 – Vacation. Donna has tonsils removed.
Oh, and while searching I found one more venue for Donna’s show. From March 30th to April 5th, 1922 – she played in Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
I’ll bet, when I have a chance to research more, I’ll find that Donna played at the 5th Avenue Theater. Probably May 25th thru the 27th. Just guessing, but it would fit the pattern.