Donna in the News – New July 8th 2019

“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. 

This week I received a notification from Newspapers.com that I had 36 new hits on my alerts – 15 from “Montran,” 15 from “Walter Wills” (which suggests “Chin Chin”), and 6 from “Dona/Donna Darling” from seven different newspapers dated between 3 May 1920 and 5 March 1928.

The articles related to six shows during her career.  Four of the shows I had previously in my list of Donna’s performances. They were:

  • Lyceum Theatre, Paterson, PA – May 7 -8 1920 – “Chin Chin.”
  • Colonial Theatre, Lancaster, PA – April 17, 18, & 19, 1922 – “Special Easter Show.”
  • Grand Theatre, Saint Louis, MO – July 7-9, 1923 – Donna Darling show.
  • Majestic Concerts – Brooklyn, NY – Mar 5, 1928 – Donna Darling and Somory [sic] Clark in “The Princess and the King.”
Can anyone translate?

Adding more clippings to what I already had is always good.  However, what is particularly cool about the Grand Theatre clipping is that the newspaper that speaks of Donna is written in German. I don’t know what it says.  I tried OCRing the words and transcribing the text to no avail. All I really know is that the article mentions “Donna Darling” and was published during the week Donna was in Saint Louis, Mo.  Hopefully, someone who reads German and German font will help me out.

The other two venues were new to me.

  • Fulton Opera House, Lancaster, PA May 29, 1920 – Chin Chin
  • Keeney’s Theatre – Brooklyn, NY – Aug 1921, Donna Montran.

So, I’ve been able to add two new shows that Donna was a part of. I will add All of these clippings to future venue writeups.

Have a great week.

Donna & “Chin Chin” – La Crosse Theatre (La Crosse, WI) – 10 February 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” played the La Crosse Theatre in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Wisconsin, on 10 February 1920

 Vaudeville
Chin Chin

Thanks to my “Donna in the News” alert last January, I learned then that Donna, and the cast of “Chin Chin,” played the La Crosse Theater in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on February 10, 1920. Now, I’ve finally had a chance to further look at that theater and show. Besides those original articles from the 4th, 5th, and 8th, I was able to find additional articles from the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 10th, and 11th.

“Chin Chin” Schedule –

Feb 1-7, 1920 – Minneapolis, MN – Metropolitan Opera House
Feb 8-9, 1920 – Unknown (possible break?)
Feb 10, 1920 – La Crosse, WI – La Crosse Theatre
Feb 11, 1920 – Chippewa Falls, WI – Rex Theatre
Feb 12, 1920 – Eau Claire, WI – Grand Theatre

Advertising

For a one-night show, the advertising for “Chin Chin” was spectacular. Every day there was something in the newspaper from eight days before the show until the day after the show. Promotion for the show began with a notice on February 3rd, that an Eau Claire boy was one of the show leads.  Along with it was a standard “To the General Public” notice from the theater’s manager, F. L. Koppelberger.[i]

Eau Claire Boy in “Chin Chin”

Include ad The music of Ivan Caryll, which serves to illustrate the story of “Chin Chin,” which comes to the La Crosse theater on February 10th, and in which Walter Wills and Roy Binder, an Eau Claire boy, demonstrate their wonderful powers of drollery and skill in dancing. Ethyl Lawrence, as “Violet Bond” the American girls, is a charming little actress, and always succeeds in winning the good graces of the audience. Her rendition of the duet, “Love Moon,” with the aid of George Usher as “Aladdin,” is one of the particular bright spots of the show.

The following day, a photo of the “Pekin Girls” graced the paper[ii] along with a short article and the same announcement from the manager as on the day before.

The remaining advertisements are pretty standard.

Reviews

Rarely is there a review for a show that has played and moved on to another city. However, the La Cross Tribune ran a modest review the day after the show. Although they didn’t mention Donna, they did mention that “those singing the leading parts last night had pleasing voices and encores were numerous.”[iii]

Theater

The La Crosse Theatre opened in 1900,[iv] but its history goes back to the 1860s when there was an opera house at the location. The Sanborn Fire Maps indicate it was an Opera House in 1891, but it appears to have had a very different footprint than the theater had in the 1920s. The early 1900s form for the theater was short lived. The theater was closed in 1927 and a new building, the Hoeschler Building was opened in 1930.

The James Cahn Theater Guide 1922 supplement indicated that the La Crosse theater had a seating capacity of 1,100 all on the ground floor. The stage was 68 feet wide, 36 feet deep, and 32 feet high.

La Crosse Theater – La Cross, WI.
Photo via Cinema Treasures uploaded by Ken Roe.


ENDNOTES

[i] The La Crosse Tribune · Tue, Feb 3, 1920 · Page 4 – Via Newspapers.com.[ii] The La Crosse Tribune · Wed, Feb 4, 1920 · Page 10 – Via Newspapers.com
[iii] The La Crosse Tribune · Wed, Feb 11, 1920 · Page 5
[iv] Cinema Treasures, La Crosse Theatre, La Crosse, WIS http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/57410

Donna Darling Collection – Part 49

La Crosse, Great Falls, & Baby Russell

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at page “DSCN1452” from the Donna Darling Collection, which consists of two newspaper clippings and one photograph.

Donna Darling Revue at the Majestic Theater.

The first clipping is an ad for

VAUDEVILLE
A Dazzling Dance Fantasy.
“THE DONNA DARLING REVUE”
in 5—Scenes—5
With Donna Darling, Sammy Clark and three stars.
In a super song and dance revue with a dash of comedy.

Luckily, Donna wrote on the upper left corner, “La Cross | Dec 4-5.” From Newspaper Archive, I had previously learned that Donna had played at the Majestic Theater in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on December 4 & 5, 1926.

The second clipping is a bit more problematic. It has a nice photo of Donna and says:

Donna began doing the “Donna Darling Review” with Sammy in April 1926, so the show must have taken place after then. The problem is that the two of them played:

  • The Grand Theater in Great Falls, Montana on Nov 26-27, 1926.
  • The Grand Theater in Macon, Georgia, on March 14-18, 1927.
  • The Grand Theater in Montgomery, Alabama, on April 1-3, 1927.
  • Plus, I have many open dates that she could have played at a “Grand Theater.”

For the clipping in question, other acts on the bill include:

  • Princess Winona.
  • Zehn and Dreis in “Dementus Americanos Habitat North America.”
  • Billy Curtis and Lou Lawrence in “Is That the Custom.”
  • Morell and Elynor (roller skating)
  • The Reginald Denny picture “Rolling Home.”
  • Luckily this bill was short-lived, only about two months. At every showing there was a different picture show. On November 26 & 27, the bill of these vaudeville acts played at the Grand Theater in Great Falls Montana along with the picture “Rolling Home.”  I am confident that this clipping comes from this date and place.
Donna & Russell ca. 1929.

Finally, there is a new photograph of Donna with Russell. Russell appears, to me, to be about two years old. Russell was born in 1927, so I’m fairly sure that the photo come from 1929 or so. This is a case where I wish I knew how to fix photos with Photoshop. I’d love to pluck out the white and have a nicer photo.

Can anyone help?

 

 

Donna in the News – Two New Venues

Donna Montran
Vaudeville

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week, I learned of two new venues, specific dates for a previously known show, and one venue confirmed by another newspaper. I made these new discoveries using Genealogy Bank. A Search for Donna Montran found four new articles. One article confirmed a venue I wrote about before—Pacy’s Garden Theatre on September 14-17, 1920. The Baltimore American dated Sep 14, 1920, on page 5 said:

Bathing Girls at Garden.

Nine bathing girls, grouped as “The California Bathing Girls” and headed by Donna Montran are presenting “A Beach Promenade,” a musical comedy, at the Garden Theatre this week. The offering differs from the usual bathing-girl act in that it is not a series of tableaux, but is an ambitious musical comedy offering with six beach scenes and a number of tuneful melodies.

The Bijou – New Haven, Connecticut – 19-22 December 1920.

The Connecticut Labor Press (New Haven, CT) for Dec 18, 1920, said that:

George Walsh in “The Plunger,” and “The Dragon’s Net” will remain for the first half of the week in conjunction with a remarkable bill of all-star vaudeville headed by Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties.

From the Donna Darling Collection, (DDC-8) I had known that Donna played at the Bijou in New Haven sometime in November or December of 1920. An ad on this page showed it was Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (19-22 December).

State Theatre – Trenton, New Jersey – 3-5 March 1921

The latter part of Donna’s 1920-1921 Bathing Beauty Show has always been a mystery. I knew she played the Keeney Theatre in Brooklyn at the end of January and that she closed the show in May or June for the summer, but I knew nothing of February, March, April, or May. Thanks to the Trenton Evening Times, dated March 3, 1921, on page 16 I learned that she played the State Theatre, in Trenton, New Jersey in “Tom Rooney’s and Earl Lindsay’s California Bathing Girls.”

Garden Theatre – Baltimore, Maryland – 20 March 1921

The Baltimore Sun ran an advertisement for “The California Bathing Girls with Donna Montran in “A Beach Promenade” on March 20,  1921. This was a return to the Garden Theatre for Donna with the same show six months after her earlier show. Still not sure how many days she was there, but further research should provide the answer.



————–  Disclaimer  ————–

Donna Darling Collection – Part 48

Two Venues & Two Photos of Russell

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at image DSCN1422 from the Donna Darling Collection. The image consists of four items. Two are articles and two photographs.

Two articles

1.  Keeney’s Livingston, Brooklyn, N. Y.

(Reviewed Thursday Evening, April 8)

From the Donna Darling Collection

… Donna Darling Company., four shapely, pretty misses, in songs and dances in full stage with special drapes, brings the show to a bang-up close. The act opens with three girls dancing, followed by Miss Darling in a song, then a gypsy dance by one of the girls, followed by a toe dance by another of them, and then two of them in a wooden shoe Dutch characterization dance, Miss Darling returning for a Hawaiian dance. A trio then puts over a song after which much applause and a brief announcement preceding a change of costume, Miss Darling presents what she calls Lightening Up the Charleston, done by all four members of the act Garbed in Luminous Costumes that glow when the lights are out. It’s a tricky bit.

JACK F. MURRAY.

April 8th was a Thursday in 1926, so the date is definite. The location and the theater are also given. Hopefully, future research will provide answers for the duration.

I added a new venue added to Donna’s Career: April 8 – Keeney’s Livingston Theater, Brooklyn, NY – Donna Darling Revue.

2.  Darling Revue Has Top Place on State Bill

Donna Darling Collection

Perhaps it is because this happens to be the season of Lent. Anyway, the vaudeville programs at the State Theater these days are very good and increasing size of audiences at the matinee and evening performances is proof of this assertation.

The Bill this week is no exception. Lead the fine array of talent is the act in which the Darling Revue strive to keep patrons interested. That they succeed was demonstrated in the liberal applause they received yesterday afternoon. Their specialty is singing and dancing. The numbers containing much that is original and enjoyable. The dances include the clog, toe and gypsy steps and the songs are of a varied nature….

I note that the other acts on the bill include the “Metropolitan Trio,” “Love and King,” “Chick & Dog,” and “William & Perry.” “Queen O’ Diamonds” with Evelyn Brent is the feature picture.

“Queen O’ Diamonds” was released on 24 January 1926, which places the show in 1926.[i] Lent runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter. In 1926 this was from February 17th to April 4th. Easter was on April 4, 1926.

I haven’t previously found a date for Donna to have been at a State Theater during Lent of 1926.[ii]

New Venue Added:  Between 17 Feb 1926 and 4 April 1926 – Unknown Location – State Theater – Darling Revue – DDC-48.

Two Photographs

Interestingly the two articles from this page of the Donna Darling Collection were from 1926; however, neither of the photographs are. Both photos are clearly of Donna’s son, Russell. Russell was born in August 1927. In both cases, he appears to be about three years old, so I estimate the photos to be ca. 1930.

Russell with two unknown boys during the summer (ca. 1930?)
Russell in a child’s Indian headdress. (ca. 1930?)

Sources

[i] IMDB Queen o’ Diamonds (1926) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017301/

[ii] Internet: The Life of Madonna Montran http://dontaylorgenealogy.com/donna-montran/