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.
For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a clipping from the Donna Darling Collection
I love Google Search. A quick search for “ *stnut “Opera House” *nbury “ quickly found the Chestnut Street Opera House in Sunbury, PA. The clipping from Donna’s collection provides the other information.
The venue is the Chestnut St. Opera House in Sunbury, PA
The date was February 6, 7, & 8, 1922.
The show is “Miss Donna Darling”
Also on bill
Lane & Whelan
Coogan & Casey
Jones & Crumley
The theater was part of the B. F. Keith’s Vaudeville.
Added another new venue for Donna – February (6, 7, & 8) 1924 – “Donna Darling Presenting Her Newest Vaudeville Revue,” at the Chestnut Street Opera House in Sunbury, PA.
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at two clippings from the Donna Darling Collection
The venue is the Cecil Theater in Mason City, Iowa
The show is the “Donna Darling and Girls”.
Also on bill
La France & Co., “World’s Greatest Head Balancers”
P. Wilson and Addie “As you like it”
Kelly and Carseth in “Days of ’95 and ‘25”
Flo Jordan and Boys in “A Whirl – A Twirl, and a Girl”
On The Screen – Betty Compson in “Ramshackle House”
In the clippings is also an article, “Musical Comedy Cecil Headliner.” It reads:
Head balancing Act Also on Vaudeville Program for This Week-End.
The Cecil theater vaudeville program is to be given today and Sunday shows more than ordinary promise. The five stage acts from the Orpheum circuit include several that should appeal to Mason City theater goers.
The Cecil will have a pretentious headliner on the vaudeville stage today in Donna Darling and Girls in songs and steps, a bevy of beautiful musical comedy beauties in the presentation of the latest songs and dances. Miss Darling is a former star with Flo Zeigfield and Chin Chin revue and is assisted by a number of lovely young women who present a routine of the latest popular catchy song numbers and also the latest dances. Special stage setting enhance the beauty of the offerings.
George P. Wilson is a woman hater and he voices his trials and tribulations with the fair sex from the vaudeville stage in a monologue he offers many special song numbers that are crammed with laughs. There is a genuine surprise in his sketch, “As You Life [sic] It.”
Luckily, the article mentions Mason City and a search found there are three places with the name, only Mason City, Iowa had a Cecil theater.
A search of IMDB found that “Ramshackle House,” starring Betty Compson was released on 31 August 1924. Movies at that time typically only had a three or four-month life, so I expect that Donna’s show at the Cecil probably took place in between September and December 1924.
Very little is known about Donna’s schedule in 1924. She probably played in Louisville, Kentucky in August, and Wisconsin in November and December. So, she was definitely in the right part of the country to have played in Mason City in September, October, or November 1924.
A search of Newspapers.com, Genealogy Bank, Newspaper Archives, Ancestry, Chronicling America, Old Fulton Postcards and other sites suggested by The Ancestor Hunt yielded nothing to further identify exactly when Donna played in Mason City. Additionally, Chronicling America does not indicate that any libraries include holdings of “The Mason City globe-gazette and Mason City daily times” for 1924.
Between Sep and Dec 1924 – Cecil Theater – Mason City, IA – Donna Darling and Girls
Determine what repositories may have archive records of 1924 “Mason City globe-gazette and Mason City daily times” newspapers that were published from 1918 to 1929.