Albany Awakens to the Benefits of Exploitation

Donna in Albany, NY, at the Clinton Theater – Sep 20-26, 1920

Albany Awakens to the Benefits of Exploitation

I was watching the live stream from RootsTech Friday.  Lisa Louise Cooke gave an awesome presentation on “Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy.” I use Google all the time and use many advanced techniques, but Lisa’s talk reminded me of some ways to use Google I haven’t used in ages, and should.
I went back to my current research topic, my grandmother’s vaudeville career. Based upon Lisa’s suggestions, I thought about Donna’s 1920 show,  “The California Bathing Girls in a Beach Promenade.” I searched using both phrases and the year of interest, 1920. Also, I eliminated my blog site from the results Googling this:
“California Bathing Girls” “beach promenade” 1920
-site:http://blog.dtaylorgenealogy.com
Amazingly, the search returned 5 results. Two of the results I had seen before. One was to a missing/parked domain. But two of them went to magazines that referenced Donna’s show. One of the articles was an absolute gem in the “Motion Picture News” about how Albany, NY was awakening to a multi-focused advertising campaign.[i] The movie “Up in Mary’s Attic” was the foundation of the advertising, which promoted the “California Bathing Girls.”  The ‘Girls were used to promote going to California. And a great way to get to California and see the girls was to enlist in the Army. They had large displays of the Attic with silhouettes of the girls in bathing suits, motor cycles cruising the streets advertising both the movie and joining the Army. Last, but not least, they used aeroplanes to drop advertisements of the show over the city. Say what?  Yes, the Army dropped flyers about the movie, the girls, and joining the Army. With Donna’s experience back in 1915 dropping flyers about “Birth of a Nation,” I wonder if she was involved with the idea of using air-drops as a means of advertising.  I would like to think she was.
Article: Albany Awakens to the Benefits of Exploitation - Not in Copyright.
Motion Picture News, October 2, 1920, Page 2601
Finally, I set up a Google Alert of that query to learn if anything new is added to the Internet in the future. Thanks again to Lisa Louise Cooke and RootsTech for reminding me of ways to better utilize Google and find genealogical gems. (pun intended).

Sources:

[i] Motion Picture News (Aug-Oct 1920)
Volume 22.2; October 2, 1920, Page 2601; Publisher Motion Picture News, Inc.; The Library of Congress has determined that this item is not in copyright.
https://archive.org/details/motionpicturenew222unse
———- DISCLAIMER ———-
Search Military Records - Fold3 Search Military Records - Fold3

Donna at Pacy’s Garden Theatre – September 14-17, 1920

Donna in Baltimore, MD, at Pacy’s Garden Theatre – September 13-17, 1920

We know that Donna played at Henderson’s Theater on Coney Island On September 6th through the 13th. She then came to Pacy’s Garden Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland.

Advertising for the California Bathing Girls shows up in both “The Sun”(Baltimore) and the “Baltimore American” newspapers. The ads are very plain. “The  Sun also ran a short mention on September 14th, in their “Amusements Of The Week” about attractions which open the previous night.[i] It read

GARDEN

The “California Bathing Girls,” a group of eight from filmland, feature the bill in a costume and song sketch, “A Beach Promenade.” Other acts are….

We know the show moves on to Washington D.C., and the Cosmos Theater the following week.

Pacy’s Garden Theater

Not much is known about Pacy’s Garden Theater. Although the theater opened in 1912, it is not listed in The Julius Cahn Theatrical Guide 1913-1914. The Yearbook of Motion Pictures – 1926 indicates that the theater seated 600. Cinema Treasures indicate that the theater closed in 1960 and was demolished.[ii] Today it is a parking lot.

Across the street from Pacy’s Garden Theatre was the Cross Street Market, which had a lunch counter. The market never closed until after the last show at the Garden Theater let out. After the last show, people crossed the street for milkshakes and hot dogs. The Market closed in 1990.[iii]

———- DISCLAIMER ———-

Endnotes

[i] The Sun (Baltimore, Maryland – September 14, 1920,1920-09-14 – Page 8 – Garden ad.
[ii] Cinema Treasures: Garden Theatre .
[iii] The Baltimore Sun, 24 September 1990, “Chrisikos clan bids a sweet farewell to Cross Street

Donna in Bridgeport, CT, at Poli’s – June 30-July 2, 1927

Donna in Bridgeport, CT, at Poli’s – June 30-July 2, 1927.

We know Donna played in Warren, PA, in early May, but don’t know where she, Sammy, and Hal Dixon were until the played at Poli’s Theater in Bridgeport, CT from June 30 until July 2, 1927.[i] [ii]

From the advertising it is clear that the movies had taken over. Irene Rich in a Warner Bros. silent feature, “The Climbers” was top billing. Even for the opening night, the “Donna Darling Revue” was promoted after “Amateur Night” in the “Amusements” article regarding what was playing at the Poli, which read:

AMATEURS TONIGHT AT POLI’S VAUDEVILLE 

In addition to the amateur presentations tonight, Poli’s Vaudeville theater offers a splendid new program today. 

Irene Rich leads an all-star cast through the screen version of the stage success “The climbers.” Commander Byrd’s start over the Atlantic is in Pathe News and a short Mack Sennett comedy completes the photoplay bill.

Heading the vaudeville contingent is Stan Stanley and company in a bit of farce, hokum and burlesque. The captain Boys present their six beautiful fashionettes in an elaborate dance act. Modern Vaudeville Frolics includes Donna Darling, Sammy Clark and Hal Dixon; Watts and Reingold in “Their Own Way,” and William Moore as “The Chef” contribute entertainment of high caliber.[iii] 
I’m still searching for other Donna Darling showings during 1927. This may have been her last show in 1927 as her son, Russell, was born less than two months later. I do know she played in Mount Carmel, PA in April 1928.

Poli’s Theater
Cinema Treasures photo of
the Palace Theater shows the
glory the theater once had.[vi]
Poli’s was, in some ways, kind of an early multiplex. Built in 1922 by Sylvester Z Poli, the Palace and Majestic Theaters were separate theaters within the same building complex separated by the Savoy Hotel. The Poli Palace was the larger of the two theaters and was the largest theater in Connecticut until 1975[iv]. According to Historic Buildings of Connecticut, Mae West also played the Poli Palace in 1927.[v] The Majestic Theater closed in 1971 and the Palace Theater closed in 1975. The theater has been vacant for 40 years and the city is hoping to redevelop the property.

Google Maps view of the Palace/Majestic Theater
Endnotes


[i] Bridgeport Telegram, 29 Jun 1927, Pg 10 – via Newspapers.com
[ii] Bridgeport Telegram, 2 Jul 1927 – Bridgeport (CT) Telegram – Via Newspaper Arvhives.com.
[iii] Bridgeport Telegram, 30 Jun 1927, Donna Darling Revue at Poli’s via Newspaperarchive.com
[iv] Web: Historic Buildings of Connecticutt: http://historicbuildingsct.com/?p=19817
[v] Web: Historic Buildings of Connecticutt: http://historicbuildingsct.com/?p=19817 
———- DISCLAIMER ———-

Babcock Theatre, Billings, MT – May 17-18, 1924 – Donna Darling & Company

Donna Darling and Boys
Billings Gazette, 18 May 1924
Courtesy: Newspapers.Com

I’m still looking to find more about Donna’s time in the Spring of 1924. I know she was in Bridgeport, CT in early February but have nothing on her whereabouts until she appears in Billings, Montana, at the Babcock Theater on May 17th and 18th. There is a lot of time and there are many places between the two shows. More to research.

I know very little (yet) about Donna’s “Novel Song and Dance Romance.” We do know that the Babcock Theater advertised it as a headline act within its vaudeville offering for the day Featuring “Donna Darling” in their “Five Big Acts” for the day. [i]

The Billings Gazette of May 18th shows a photo of “Donna and the Boys” on Page 16. [ii]

Unfortunately, all the copies I could find of the paper, both Newspapers.Com and Newspaper Archive.Com, have really poor quality images of the paper. If anyone has access to the original papers and would do a photo image of the paper I’d really love it. In the meantime, I’ll put trying to find a copy of it on my “want to do list.”
I also know on June 2nd she is in Oakland, California. Although it is only two weeks later, I doubt she went that distance without a few shows along the way. So much more to research.

Babcock Theatre

Babcock Theater c. 1913
Courtesy: Puget Sound Pipeline

In 1896, A. L. Babcock opened the Billings Opera House. Mr. Babcock operated that theater until September 22, 1906 when the building burned. Mr. Babcock built a new theater, the Babcock, a few blocks away and opened it just over a year later, on December 23, 1907.[iii]

At the time it was built, at the time was considered the largest theater between Minneapolis and Seattle.

The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide, 1922 Supplement, reports that the Babcock Theatre seated 1200 people and the stage was 36×32 feet.

On February 21, 1935, the Babcock Theatre was rented out for a prize fight. It was a real “smoker.” The fire chief ask there be no smoking in the theatre, however, the patrons didn’t listen and a fire broke out under the boxing ring. The theatre entrance lobby and 13 rows of seating under the balcony were all that survived. The roof collapsed during the night, the proscenium

Babcock Theater Today
Photo: By Sara goth [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
arch failed, the stage was ruined and the amazing pipe organ demolished. The owner at the time considered rebuilding as entirely apartments or hotel, but decided to rebuild as a theatre. Within six months it was rebuilt. The reopening was a huge affair with the street being closed to handle the crowds, bands playing, and telegrams from Hollywood celebrities including Katherine Hepburn, W.C. Fields, Mae West, and Bette Davis [iv].

Today, after extensive renovations from 2008 through 2012, it houses 14 apartment units, retail shopping, and again operates a theatre for live performances.[v] The next live show scheduled at the Babcock is D. L. Hughley[vi], stand-up comedian, the original host of “Comic View”, and the eponymous character of The Hughleys.

Ninety years after Donna Darling and Company performed, comedy is still alive at the Babcock.

Further Research

Find a better quality image of The Billings
Gazette
, 18 May  1924, Page 16.


Endnotes

Note: This post was reformatted on 27 April 2018. 

[i] The Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) 17 May 1924, Sat • Page 3 – Advertisement: Babcock Theatre – “Donna Darling and Company “ Source: Newspapers.Com, et al.
[ii] The Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) 18 May 1924, Sun • Page 16 – Feature Vaudeville_Act. Source: Newspapers.Com, et al.
[iii] United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Registration Form – Babcock Theatre Building – Page 13: http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000153.pdf
[iv] United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Registration Form – Babcock Theatre Building – Page 22: http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000153.pdf
[v] Wikipedia: Billings, Montana; the historic Babcock Theater http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billings,_Montana
[vi] Babcock Theater website – http://www.babcocktheater.com/

Donna wishes a Merry Christmas

On December 24th, 1919, Donna joined 139 other people in wishing Roehm and Richards a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year via an ad taken out in the New York Clipper. They all hoped that Health and Prosperity will be with them always.

New York Clipper – 24 December 1919
My thanks to Fulton History

I wish all my friends and blog readers a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with health, prosperity, and happiness.

– Don Taylor

Sources:

The New York Clipper, December 24, 1919, Page 42 – Via Fulton History