Donna Darling Collection – Part 40

Grand Theatre, Great Falls, Montana

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at clipping DSCN1449 from the Donna Darling Collection.

Thanks to Newspapers.Com, I have long known that Donna played at the Grand Theatre in Great Falls Montana, November 26th & 27th, 1926. I hadn’t realized what a big deal it had to have been as Donna, Sammy, and Princess Winona stopping in Great Falls. The newspaper had nice photos and a long article in the newspaper of the troop.  It was a rare use of her “Donna Darling playing the Balalaika” photo. Such a large article is rare for a short, two-day show.

Five Big Acts of Vaudeville Open Tonight

Princess Winona, Donna Darling and Sammy Clark of the Donna Darling Revue, headliner on the Extra vaudeville at the Grand tonight and tomorrow night.

Circumstances have made it pos­sible for Manager Will Steege of the Grand to present an additional bill of five acts of vaudeville there to­night and tomorrow night, with the usual two shows, at 7 and 9 o’clock. The acts are here on a long jump on the way to open another Association vaudeville circuit.

The feature act is the Donna Darling revue, with Sammy Clark. Miss Darling won the Madison Square Garden beauty contest a few years ago and was afterwards featured in “Chin Chin” and also with George White and Flo Ziegfeld. With Sammy Clark, “The Juvenile Komik,” Barring and Lazur and Hal Dixon, she presents a routine of songs and dances, garnished with comedy. The beauty of the act is enhanced by special stage settings and exceptional costumes. 

Photo of Donna Darling with Balalaika
Donna Darling with Balalaika

Zuhn and Dreis, two of the most effective epithet throwers in the varieties, are appropriately charac­terized as “Dement’s Americanos.” Originality is one of their gifts, and the ability to use entertaining slang is not the least of their skill.

Billy Curtis, vaudeville author and songwriter, has a skit where laugh provoking lines and tuneful music predominate. Lou Lawrence is his partner in the entertainment. “Is that the Custom?” is the name of the act, which was written by Curtis. Miss Eva Tanguay and the late Bert Williams employed Curtis as a special composer. Clever as his accomplishments were then, no doubt he gave even better effort in the writing of his own act.

Ever on the alert for novelties, Morrell and Elynore, and up-to-date couple, are on the bill for the Charleston on roller skates. They also introduce singing and comedy talk and have a sackful of variety for their program.

Appearing in Indian costume, Princess Winona sings modern Indian songs. She has a soprano voice that is sweet and well modu­lated. A good voice and a pleasing personality contribute to Princess Winona’s success. Her act also appeals because of its being a bit different than the ordinary vaudeville presentation.

Manager Steege is quite elated over the feature picture which opens the bill, “Rolling Home,’ the star being no less than the popular Reginald Denny.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Grand Theatre, Great Falls, Montana
    • The show is the “Danna Darling Revue, with Sammy Clark” staring Donna Darling and Sammy Clark along with Barring and Lazur and Hal Dixon
  • Also on the bill
    • Zuhn & Dreis – “Dement’s Americanos”
    • Billy Curtis & Lou Lawrence
    • Morrell and Elynore
    • Princess Winona

Sources

Donna Darling Collection – DSCM1449

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 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.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 36 – Fox Washington Theatre

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at two clippings from the Donna Darling Collection concerning “The Fox Washington – Washington Blvd at Clifford.”

Continue reading “Donna Darling Collection – Part 36 – Fox Washington Theatre”

Donna Darling Collection – Part 35 – The Elsinore

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a clipping from the Donna Darling Collection concerning “The Elsinore.”

From the Donna Darling Scrapbook.

This was one of the strangest clippings in the scrapbook not only because it was cut out oddly but also had a color image included. At first, I thought the clipping went together, then I realized it was two clippings that touched each other. The first part was a standard vaudeville advertisement. Donna was playing at “The Elsinore” and was part of “5 Association Vaudeville Acts.”

  • Donna Darling Revue – With Sammy Clark
  • Curtis & Lawrence – in “Is That the Custom”
  • Morell & Elynor – Introducing the Charleston on Rollers
  • Princess Winona – Indian Prima Donna
  • Zuhn & Dreis – Dementas Americanas

Donna and Sammy played at the Elsinore Theater in Salem, Oregon for one night, on 5 November 1926. A venue I knew about, thanks to Newspapers.Com.


But the other part of the clipping was an odd little man in bright orange pants with a belt that said “Wild to Go.” When I zoomed in on the photo, I could read the logo on his hat, “Red Crown Gasoline.”  I searched the internet for Red Crown Gasoline and learned it was a brand of Standard Oil[i]. It is mentioned as possibly being the first movie product placement advertisement.  The 1920 film, “The Garage” starring “Fatty” Arbuckle and Buster Keaton[ii] showed the Red Crown Gasoline several times. A search of Google Images discovered a couple images of this little man but none of this exact image. Certainly, this little man is rare, if not unique.

Sources

[i] Internet: Old Auto News (Vintage Autos and Motorcycle Advertisements) Red Crown Gasoline, et al.
[ii] Internet: Wikipedia – “The Garage (1920 film)”