Donna Darling Collection – Part 86

Donna’s Cloak & MyHeritage Photo Repair

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at another clipping from the Donna Darling Collection. This photo is of Donna in her stage cloak. I’ve seen the image in several newspaper articles as it was a signature costume for her. The print itself is in terrible condition, torn, faded, just generally in awful, unusable condition.

I’ve known about MyHeritage’s photo repair capability for some time, but I hadn’t used it. As such, I figured I’d give it a try and see if it could help this image.

Donna Darling in her white cloak, circa 1926

I uploaded the image to MyHeritage then ran it through both the photo repair and photo enhancement. Zooming in on Donna’s face, I thought I’d see some improvement. Surprisingly, I did not see any difference. The repair smoothed the tear and some minor marks and tears, but nothing more than many other tools can do. That said, the process was straightforward. I’ve used Photoshop Elements and several other simple programs to clean up tears and marks. They typically do a similar job, but they take some experience to use and take more effort. It was the enhancement that I didn’t think the MyHeritage tool did much for my photo. I’ll try it again on something else and see if my opinion can be changed.

Donna in her coat – Original Scan

Donna in her coat – Enhanced and Repaired

The label on the back of this photo said, “Hokum ala Carte,” “Donna Darling,” and had a stamp that read “Darling and Clark Revue.”

Donna and Sammy were married in 1926, so this photo was taken after they got together, but probably towards the beginning of the Darling and Clark Revue in May 1926.

This photo is of Donna Darling in her cloak, circa May 1926.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 85

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a clipping from the Donna Darling Collection with Donna in her fashion coat.

Donna Darling.

Bathing Beauties of Movies Here in Revue at the Lincoln.

Bathing girls from various California motion picture studios will make a personal appearance in a colorful Hollywood revue at the Lincoln. This revue is a clever musical and dancing number which will show patrons that these versatile girls can do other things than merely making poses before the camera. Miss Donna Darling, who comes direct from the Mack Sennet studios, is the charming star who introduces the bathing beauties dressed in bathing costumes dating from 1860 to the present day. Bettl [sic] Bryant is the “Miss America of 1925.’’ Bathing costumes of various countries and fashionable seashore centers are introduced. Chief among these number is Mildred O’Brian, who appears as the beauty from Palm Beach. Miss Darling’s life guards, Murry Earl and Al Ross, add comedy to the Egyptian dance, while Petite Clarice Allyn as the Chinese bathing girl enhances the program with clever toe dancing.

Elaborate costumes have been selected for this sparkling revue. The music is snappy and the production has brilliant scenic and lighting effects.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Lincoln; however, neither a city nor state is provided.
  • No date is provided; however, Betty Bryant is “Miss America of 1925” indicating that the show was in 1925.
  • Other cast members included
    • Betty Bryant
    • Mildred O’Brian
    • Murry Earl
    • Al Ross
    • Clarice Allyn


Donna Darling and Girls is known to have played at the Lincoln Theatre in Belleville, Illinois, on 6 October 1925. She also played there in 1924 and 1926 with different shows, so the Lincoln Theatre in Belleville was well known to her.

The Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, IL) paper dated 6 October 1925, Page 9[i], mentions Donna Darling and girls in their “Song and Dance Revue” were at the Lincoln.

A further review of Genealogy Bank, Newspaper Archives, Elephind, Chronicling America, and the Byron Public Library District at Advantage Preservation failed to provide any additional potential venues for Donna at “the Lincoln” during 1925.


Tentatively, I ascribe this clipping to her playing at the Lincoln in Belleville, IL, on 6 October 1925.


[i] The Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Illinois) 06 Oct 1925, TuePage 9 – Via

Donna Darling Collection – Part 84

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week, for Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Collection. The page includes three clippings, all relating to the Grand Theater.

The Grand

This is the first week of the Grand’s new and permanent policy of offering a program of pictures and vaudeville at popular prices and judging from the reception accorded the entertainment yesterday by the patrons it should develop Into a successful institution. The Hollywood motion picture bathing girls present the variety entertainment, while the screen’s chief feature is a Monty Banks full length comedy, “Racing Luck.”

“The Evolution of the Bathing Suit” is what the Hollywood organization, of which Donna Darling is the star, calls its revue. The schedule is opened by a magnetic little miss who calls herself the poet or the show. She introduces Miss- Darling, who sings a song about the girl of 1860, to be followed by three girls who dance in bathing costumes of that period. Betty Bryant dances as the modern girl, Alice Louise is the Bowery type, Clarice Allyn the Chinese bather, Jerry Jean the Atlantic City model, Nattie Norine the Palm Beach stroller and Tom Watson and Al Ross as the life guards.

There are few slow moments in the production, the dancing is varied and pleasing and the singing of Miss Darling, who wears some beautiful costumes, is well worth the applause it receives. There is a hula dancer who is the most interesting hula dancer we have seen in front of the footlights of a Terre Haute theater this season, and the team of Watson and Ross is excellent in its eccentric creations. The show, as a whole, is a well-balanced piece.

The Grand orchestra, under the direction of George Jacob, violinist, who has Cliff Lowe, his pianist, as his trusty right-hand man, surprises one with its skill in handling the musical score of the show.

Along with the article is an advertisement and a photo of Donna with her beautiful cloak.  Both of the clippings also mention she is at the Grand Theatre.

Key features:

    • Venue: Grand Theatre in Terre Haute.
    • Cast: Betty Bryant, Alice Louise, Clarice Allyn, Jerry Jean, Nattie Norine Tom Watson, and Al Ross.
    • Also on bill:
      • The movie: “Racing Luck” with Monty Banks.


According to Wikipedia[i], Racing Luck with Monty Banks was released on 11 May 1924, so the show needed to be after that.

Donna began her Bathing Girl Review in the fall of 1924 and played at Indiana theatres from February through May of 1925. My uncle Russell’s research indicated that Donna played in Terre Haute, IN, on 18 April 1925. I do not know where he got this information; however, this date fits in nicely with Donna’s itinerary being in Rushville, IN, on 26 March and Vincennes, IN, on 27 April.

Cinema Treasures indicates the Grand Opera House opened in 1907 and changed its name to the Grand Theatre when movies replaced live entertainment. This clipping shows that the name had changed by 1925 when it switched to having a film and vaudeville mix.

Terre Haute Saturday Spectator, 11 April 1925, Page 10. (via Newspaper Archives)

The 11 April Saturday Spectator[ii] ran an ad for The Grand Theatre showing the “Hollywood Motion Picture Bathing Girls featuring Donna Darling” to run all week starting Sunday. That ad suggests her show ran from 12 April to the 18th. Really interesting is that the Saturday Spectator of 18 April says that, “The Donna Darling Company will continue on the bill the remainder of the week. A change in songs, dances and costumes was made Thursday.” I had no idea that the show changed during the middle of a run.


During the week of 12-18 April 1925, Donna’s “Evolution of the Bathing Suit” played at the Grand Theatre in Terre Haute, Indiana.


[i] Wikipedia: Racing Luck (1924 film)

[ii] Terre Haute Saturday Spectator, April 11, 1925, Page 10 (Via Newspaper Archives).

Donna Darling Collection – Part 83

Donna & Her Cloak – Part 1
Tex Grand – El Paso – 25 Sep 1926

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m begin looking at several clippings and a photo from the Donna Darling Collection highlighting her cloak. Donna is known to have loved clothes, and she had several cloaks, which were stunning. Newspaper clippings help add new venues and further information about her career.

This clipping shows Donna with her beautiful cloak. Luckily she annotated the clipping with “Tex Grand – El Paso Tex. Sep 25-26.” Sure enough, the El Paso Herald reported in the 25 September 1926 paper that Donna Darling and Sammy Clark were appearing at the Texas Grand.

11 Years on State, She Advises Golf and Vegetables for Beauty

Golf and a vegetable diet are the recipes Donna Darling, hotel Paso del Norte, gives to retain youth and beauty.

Eighteen holes of golf sandwiched between vaudeville performances, she says, keeps her trim and strong. She prefers vegetables and fruits when she travels. She thinks a heavy diet and different drinking water would be bad for her health.

Miss Darling went on the stage at 14. She played on the legitimate state, for the screen and in vaudeville for 11 years. A prize winner in beauty contests at Boston and Madison Square Garden, she soon got movie contracts. She is the sister of Grace Darling, Vitagraph[i] star. She played prima donna in Chin Chin when the musical comedy came to El Paso in 1923.


This article is an excellent example that you “can’t believe everything you read in the papers.” Some of it is true, and some is a twist of facts. My thoughts:

Different drinking different water would be bad for her health — Likely. It only takes one episode of “Montezuma’s revenge” to change your outlook on drinking the local water during the 1920s. I can easily believe Donna preferred wine, beer, or anything else alcoholic over local water. Of course, drinking beverages that were safe during Prohibition was likely difficult.

On Stage at 14 – Likely. In 1910, 17-year-old Madonna Holdsworth (a stepfather’s surname) was living Detroit and worked as a saleswoman at a dry goods store. If she had been on stage at that time, it would have most likely been local theater.

In vaudeville for 11 years–Partially true. 1926 minus 11 years is 1915. She won beauty contests in 1915 and 1916 after she was in “Birth of a Nation,” which was released on 8 February 1915. She likely did some uncredited vaudeville work about that time.

Sister of Grace Darling—I had always thought this was not true; there is no way she could be related to Grace Darling, the famous English lighthouse keeper’s daughter. However, it appears that another Grace Darling was her sister-in-law. In 1915, Madonna married Thomas Valentine Rooney. Grace Darling (born Grace Foster) married Pat Rooney in 1908 but divorced him sometime before 1915. She apparently got back with Pat Rooney and was with him when he died in 1933. Donna (Madonna) and Thomas appear to have drifted apart in 1921. Indeed, this is new information to me and warrants further investigation.

She played prima donna in Chin Chin when the musical comedy came to El Paso in 1923. “Chin Chin” did not have a leading lady. Donna was a part of the “Chin Chin” cast from October 1919 to the show’s closing in June 1920, where she played the “Lady of the Lamp.” The show went to El Paso before she joined the show. By 1923, she had her own shows, Donna Darling & Co. and the Donna Darling Revue.


Learning about Grace Foster and Pat Rooney being married and that Grace Foster took on the stage name of Grace Darling makes me wonder if Donna and Grace both took the Darling stage name at the same time. I need to look at how the lives of the two “Darlings” and the two Rooney’s intertwined.

Donna’s note also extends my date for Donna in El Paso from one day to two days.


I have long had a desire to do a side investigation into the life of Thomas Valentine Rooney. The Grace Foster stage name and her marriage to Pat Rooney make this investigation much higher on my to-do list.


[i] The Vitagraph Studios (Vitagraph Company of America) was a film company bought out by Warner Brothers in 1925. Grace Darling was the stage name for Grace Foster. – Wikipedia.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 82

Two photos of the Bathing Beauties

Treasure Chest Thursday
Hollywood Bathing Beauties
By Don Taylor

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

Stage – Donna Darling Revue – 6 women on stage – with “India My Own” sign

This first photo has six women on stage. One of the girls is holding a sign that says, “INDIA My Own.” The back of the photo says “Donna Darling Revue.”

In the 1920s, Donna had a show, California Bathing Girls. During that show she sang the song, “India, My Own,” which she wrote. So, this photo is clearly from that time. Donna always needed to be the center of attention and this photo really exemplifies that with two girls on their knees with incense bowls. Additionally, this appears to be Donna in the same hat and dress she wore during her Christmas wishes. (See: Donna Darling Collection – Part 32.) This photo is clearly from that time.

Donna Darling – “California Bathing Girls” – 8 women on stage

This second photo shows all eight of the bathing girls, including Donna, who were part of the “Beach Promenade.” Besides Donna, there were seven other women in the show; Lola St. Clair, Marie Thompson, Alice Eldridge, Bobby Tremaine, Helen Travis, Dorothy Smith, and Alie Dean[i]. Sadly, I have not been able to identify which woman is which in the photo. If you have other photos of any of these women, I’d love to see them.


Two photos of The California Bathing Girls from Donna Darling’s 1920 Vaudeville show.

Future Actions

Try to better identify the seven supporting California Bathing Beauties.


[i] See:  Donna Montran – Moss’s Broadway Theater, July-August 1920