Donna Forms an Act in April 1918 — Or Not?

My understanding of the early career of Donna Montran is filled with holes. We know that she married Thomas Rooney on November 23, 1915.  I have only found one event in her life during 1916 and one in 1917. Both of these events took place in Massachusetts. It appears that she was still in Boston on January 27, 1918, but by the following month (February 1918), she had located to New York and began appearing on the “United Time.

It is the April 10th issue of the New York Clipper[i] which gives us an indication that she probably had a bad experience. It reported:

            MONTRAN AND KENNIER UNITE

            Dinna Montran[ii], of musical comedy fame, and George Kennier, principal with “Very Good Eddie,” have framed a singing and dancing act for the Moss and Lowe Circuits.

NY Clipper, 10 Apr 1918, Pag6 6, Column 4.

Likewise, the April 17th issue of the New York Clipper[iii] reported:

George Kennier and Dinna Montran will put on a new singing and dancing act within the near future.

N Y Clipper – 17 April 1918, Page 19, Column 2.

Then silence for over a year, from the New York Clipper, until October 22nd, 1919, when it reported:

Dora Montran opened with “Chin Chin” in Omaha last week.[iv]

What happened with Donna and her career from April 1918 until January 1919? It appears that her association with George Kennier was short-lived and went nowhere. My searches for George Kennier found nothing about such a show and I found nothing about him in the vaudeville news after it.

Conclusion

I think I need to add two in-depth research tasks.

  1. I need to know more about Donna’s second husband, Thomas Valentine Rooney.  He married Donna in 1915 directed her in 1919. He also did scenery and other functions for Donna in 1920.  He seems to fade away from Donna’s life in late 1920.
  2. I also need to add an in-depth research task to research George Kennier.  There was a George Kennier who lived in Boston in 1915.  Is this the same person?  Donna was in Boston in 1915, so it is possible that they knew each other there and then started to put together a show in 1918. We will see what the research finds.

    Endnotes

[i] New York Clipper – 10 April 1918, Page 6, Column 4, Paragraph 6 – “Montran and Kennier Unite.”

[ii] I have little doubt that “Dinna Montran” and “Donna Montran” are the same person. I don’t know if she was trying out using Dinna or if the paper got here name wrong. However, the Montran name is so unusual and another Montran who was known for musical comedy is very unlikely.

[iii] New York Clipper – 17 April 1918, Page 19, Column 2, Paragraph 10 – Kennier & Montran….

[iv] That report is just a little off. She joined “Chin Chin” on October 30th in Decatur, Illinois. “Chin Chin” didn’t play in Omaha until November 7th. Also, there never was another Montran with the “Chin Chin” show besides Donna.

 

Donna in the News – Passaic & Patterson, New Jersey.

“Chin Chin”

This week Newspapers.Com released two more newspapers that were of interest to my Donna Montran Vaudeville Career work. First, the Passaic Daily Herald had several articles and ads for “Chin Chin” playing at the Lyceum Theatre in Paterson, New Jersey on May 7th and 8th, 1920.  Besides the Herald, the News (Paterson, NY) also had advertising and articles regarding that show.  This was all new information to me about the venues that “Chin Chin” played at during Donna’s being with the cast.

Bathing Beauties

Additionally, the News (Paterson, NY) had a small ad showing that Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties played at the Majestic Theater.  The date isn’t 100% clear, but it appears that it was January 13, 14, & 15, 1921, that her Beach Promenade played.

The News (Paterson, New Jersey) · Fri, Jan 14, 1921 · Page 21

Both of these are new dates and venues to be added to my list of Donna’s career performances.

  • May 7 & 8, 1920 – Paterson, NY – Lyceum Theater – “Chin Chin”
  • Jan 13-15, 1921 – Paterson, New Jersey – Majestic Theatre — Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties.

“Donna in the News” is my reporting of newly found newspapers articles and advertising regarding my grandmother, Madonna Montran (aka Donna Montran and aka Donna Darling). I am always excited when I find a new venue for my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.

—– Disclaimer —–

Donna Darling Collection – Part 45

 

Treasure Chest Thursday
Vaudeville
By Don Taylor

Lyceum Theater, Canton, Ohio

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

Newspaper article from 1922 - Valerie Bergere Tops Program at Lyceum Theater
Valerie Bergere Tops Program at Lyceum Theater

…. Donna Darling the well known musical comedy star….

… Miss Donna Darling, the musical comedy star assisted by Murry Walker and Jack Finney will appear in a song and dance cocktail “As you Like It.” Miss Darling will wear in one number a costly gown on which there are more than 20,000 pearls. This is one of the most elaborate gowns ever worn on the American star. Each number of this lavish offering has its special sets and costume effects. A cloth of gold drop is used. The three sing some of the comedy numbers from the Floradora sextette and a number from the musical comedy “Sally,” do some dances to “Irene” music, and other musical comedy hits are introduced with special settings and costumes. The three are exceptionally good dancers as well as singers.

One of the features of the offering will be a burlesque of an Egyptian dance.

Miss Darling is well known to Cantonians as she played here as the prima donna of “Chin Chin” two seasons ago when this big musical comedy played at the Grand. [April 1, 1920 – Canton, OH – Grand Opera House]

Key features:

  • The venue is the Lyceum Theater.
  • The show is the “As You Like It” starring Donna Darling assisted by Murry Walker and Jack Finney.
  • Also on bill
    • Valerie Bergere was the top bill in a new Japanese comedy-drama, “O Joy San.”
    • Lew Hoffman displayed his skills with hats in “The Hattery.”
    • Miss Lillian Conroy & her brother John used a 5500-gallon water tank for an aquatic show.
    • Jean McCoy & Ralph Walton present “A Few Minutes with Ouija.”
    • Joe Rome & Lou Gaut show “When Extremes Meet” as dancers, singers & storytellers.

Analysis

I always love it when Donna writes the source information on the clipping page. In this case, she wrote “Mar 12 – Sun Repositor – Canton, Ohio.” This matched perfectly with a show I already knew about. On March 12-16 she played at the Lyceum Theater in Canton Ohio.

The article included some interesting tidbits. In particular, I had not previously known that her dress had “over 20,000 pearls.”  Wow, that must have been quite the dress.

Conclusion

Added a note about DDC to the previous entry:

March 12-16, 1922 – Canton, Ohio – Lyceum – Donna Darling – Genealogy Bank – DDC – Part 45.

 

Chin-Chin in the News – Orpheum Theatre – York, PA

28 May 1920 – York, PA

Vaudeville/Chin-Chin
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.My grandmother was a vaudeville star and I am following her career, trying to learn of her many performances. In October 1919, she joined the cast of the Charles Dillingham production of “Chin-Chin” “Chin-Chin” played across the US and Canada until June 1920. I monitor several newspaper services watching for new venues that the show played at while she was a cast member.

This week’s entries are from The Evening Sun (Hanover, PA) on May 25th, 26th, and 27th and come via (Newspapers.Com).

Article transcription:

Orpheum – One Night Only – May 28TH
Friday
York, PA
THE BIGGEST SHOW IN YEARS
Charles Dillingham’s Gigantic Musical Comedy

“CHIN CHIN”

The Only Company

Ad showing "Chin Chin" to play at the Orpheum Theater on May 28th [1920].
The Evening Sun – Hanover, PA – 25 May 1920
WALTER WILLS
ROY BINDER
COMPANY OF 70
MOSTLY GIRLS
THE FAMOUS TOM
BROWN’S CLOWN
SAXOPHONE BAND
INDOOR CIRCUS
LOTS OF FU

Mile. Falloffski
Inimitable Paderewski
Marvelous Ventriloquist

Grotesque Dancing
and the Screamingly
Funny Laughing Horse.

Two Car Loads of
Scenery and Most
Startling Effects

New Venue Added:

28 May 1920 – York PA, Orpheum Theatre, “Chin-Chin”

 

 

Donna Darling Collection – Part 44

The Lindo Theatre

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at two clippings from the Donna Darling Collection where she played at the Lindo Theater. The first is a newspaper clipping which advertises The Donna Darling Revue playing for 4 days at the Lido. at the same time as “The Savage” a comedy novelty movie. According to IMDB, the film was released on 18 July 1926. Sadly, the film is apparently lost, with no known copies left. From the ad, it looks like a really funky movie. “One wild man—many wild animals—a naughty dinosaur—and a society deb looking for a thrill. Oh, spare us—we can’t mention it without laughing.” It is hard to think of the film’s story without laughing. Ben Lyon went on to star in the 1930 version of “Hell’s Angels.” May McAvoy went on to be in “The Jazz Singer” with Al Jolson.

Clipping of Donna Darling & The Savage at the Lindo Theatre
Clipping – Donna Darling & The Savage at the Lindo Theatre

I had previously seen articles in Newspaper Archives and Newspapers.com indicating that the Donna Darling Review played at the Lindo Theatre in Freeport, IL on August 3, 1926. The clipping clarified the dates as being August 2nd through the 5th. Donna’s show was “One of those big acts that seldom gets to small towns” and “Missing this [show] is like losing one of life’s treats.”

A clipping of an ad of the Donna Darling Review playing at the Lindo Theatre
Ad showing the Donna Darling Review playing at the Lindo Theatre

I have cropped, edited, and sized the photos for the web.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Lindo Theatre.
  • The show is the “Donna Darling Revue.”
  • Also on the bill
    • Ben Lyon and May McAvoy in “The Savage”

Sources

Internet: IMDb – Entry for “The Savage” (1926) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017348/