Donna Darling Collection – Part 24

Cecil Theater – Mason City, Iowa

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

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

Cecil Theater Clipping – Donna Darling and Girls

Key features:

  • 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:

Musical Comedy Cecil Headliner

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, 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.

“Chin Chin” at Liberty Theater, Camp Sherman, Ohio

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” played at the Liberty Theatre, Camp Sherman, (Chillicothe), Ohio on 4 April 1920

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.“Chin Chin” played at the Grand Opera House in Canton, Ohio on April 1st. It is not clear if they played anywhere on April 2nd or 3rd, but the cast and crew arrived to perform at the Liberty Theatre at Camp Sherman, (Chillicothe) Ohio on April 4th, 1920.

Show Advertising

Even though the show was on a military base, advertising was like most cities that the show went to. I have been unable to find base papers, handbills, or programs, so all I have seen came from the Chillicothe Gazette, the nearby town’s newspaper. There was a typical “Chin-Chin” advertisement showing Walter Wills and Roy Binder about five days before the show. Long thin column ads ran on April 1st and 2nd mentioning that the show sold out in many locations before and those that want to see the show should get their tickets right away.

On the day before the show, another “Chin-Chin” ad ran in the Chillicothe Gazette showing the “Pekin Girls.”

There were no reviews nor was there any after show information regarding the show.

Liberty Theater, Camp Sherman

Liberty Theater, Camp Sherman

In the spring of 1917, the loss of seven ships and related heavy loss of American lives spurred president Woodrow Wilson to request of Congress a declaration of war against Germany. The declaration was approved on 6 April 1917, and America entered the war.[i]

A massive construction program created by the War Department resulted in the simultaneous nation-wide construction of 16 new National Army cantonments and 16 new Army National Guard training camps.

Approximately 5,000 workers had arrived by 5 July 1917, and construction started the next day.[ii] During the war construction never ended. There were 13 contracts for building during the war and there was constant expansion until Armistice Day. Besides barracks, the Camp included 11 YMCA buildings and three theaters.  Two for motion pictures and one building, the Liberty Theatre, that could do both motion pictures and live shows.

The theater was completed by December 1917. Most sources I have found indicate it had a seating capacity of 1,300 people,[iii] however, the Julius Cahn – Gus Hill 1922 Supplement indicates the seating capacity was 2,500. All agree that it was managed by a civilian.

Most of the Camp’s buildings were demolished during the 1920s.

Camp Sherman

Image of Woodrow Wilson created by 21,000 officers and men. Camp Sherman 1918. Photo: Public Domain via Library of Congress.

Camp Sherman is particularly well known for a formation they did consisting of 21,000 troops that formed an image of Woodrow Wilson. It is one of those truly amazing Great War photos.

The next day, the “Chin Chin” cast and crew played 150 miles north of Chillicothe at the  Sandusky Theater in Sandusky, Ohio.



[i] Camp Sherman, Ohio: History of a World War I Training Camp by Susan I. Enscore, Adam D. Smith, and Megan W. Tooker – Published by US Army Corps of Engineers – ERDC/CERL TR-15-25 – December 2015. Page 24

[iii] History of the Ohio State University – Volume IV, The University in the Great War, Part III, In the Camps and at the Front by Wilbur H. Siebert.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 23

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.It is always great when I can add a new venue to Donna’s show list and today’s collection item did just that. It was another Capitol Theater clipping, but this time from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Kitchener is about 110km (70 miles) west of Toronto. Luckily, Donna wrote the dates of her playing there next to the clippings – June 21, 22, 23. The silent movie “Beverly of Graustark” is playing at the same time which dates the show in 1926.

Newspaper Clipping of Capital Theater from 1926 showing Darling & Clark playing


Marion Davies….

The Revue Different as presented by The Darling and Clark Metropolitan Revue is one of the most pleasing acts seen in Kitchener in some time. Miss Darling puts over her songs in a wonderful manner and her costumes are gorgeous. Mr. Clark is a comedian of no mean ability, and the dancing artists and the whistling soloist were the recipients of rounds of applause last evening. All in all it can trustfully be called a “bang up” show.

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

Key features:

  • The venue is the Capitol Theater. One of the articles confirms it is Kitchener.
  • The show is the “Darling and Clark – Metropolitan Revue” staring [Donna] Darling and [Sammy] Clark.
  • Also on bill
    • Movie: “Beverly of Graustark” starring Marion Davies & Antonio Moreno also played.


According to IMDB, “Beverly of Graustark” was released in April 1926[i] indicating that the show occurred after that.


Donna & Sammy played at the Capitol Theater, Kitchener, Ontario on June 21, 22, 23, 1926.


[i] IMDB “Beverly of Graustark” 1926

Donna Darling Collection – Part 22

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at several clippings from the Donna Darling Collection that relate to her playing at the Capital Theater.[i]

The first clipping is an article about “New Entertainment Feature is Popular,” which mentions Donna and her show “Little Jewel Revue.” Beneath the clipping, Donna wrote “Lansing week Mar 7th.” When I compared Donna’s note and the article I was confused for a moment. The article mentions DeLano Dell developing a following while in Jackson; I thought of Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. Further investigation indicated there is a Jackson, MI about 39 miles south of Lansing. Also, Cinema Treasures indicates there was a Capitol Theatre in Lansing[ii] and does not indicate there was a Capitol Theater in Jackson, MS.[iii]

Note: [iv]



Each week the Capital Theater’s “Presentations” are growing in popularity and Manager McLaren’s latest in entertainment is finding a ready welcome at the hands of Capitol patrons.

Delano Dell, who has become a regular fixture at the Capitol as a sort of “Master of Ceremonies,” has developed a large following during his short stay in Jackson and this week will offer some brand new comedy Songs and dances in addition to his usual comedy chatter. “Clem” and his Merry Gang will play a couple of red hot jazzy selections of the “Gang” will be assisted by that scintillating beauty, Donna Darling, and her “Little Jewel Revue.” Miss Darling who has appeared at the Capitol before is known as one of the most beautiful girls in vaudeville today and her assisting artists are also eye easy. They will offer a combination of singing, dancing and comedy numbers with elaborate costumes and the whole presentation will be given in a very attractive stage setting.

Then there were two clippings showing the programs. The first one showed her Program running Sunday through Wednesday, March 7th through the 10th. Only 1920 and 1926 included Sunday, March 7th. The cartoon, “Felix Baffled by Banjos,” was released in 1924,[v] which dated the event as not 1920. Additionally, another clipping indicated Donna playing the 4th, 5th, and 6th with the same type and layout of the program. The second clipping show some of the same people playing and some new items. Additionally, the film “Cupid a la Carte” was released in January 1926[vi] further fixing the date of this show as 1926.

Finally, on the same page as the clippings regarding the Capitol Theater, there was a photo of Donna. From its appearance, I think it is probably taken at the back door to the theater in March 1926. Donna is wearing a fur coat and there is snow on the ground.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Capital Theater in Lansing, Michigan.
  • The date is March 4-10, 1926.
  • The show is the “Little Jewel Revue”
  • Also showing attractions included:
    • “Clem” and his Merry Gang
    • Al J. Amato and his Singing Band
    • Alvin and Alvin European Clowns and Fun Makers
    • Bert Chadwick – The Eccentric Ethiopian
    • Cecile Forbes, Dorothy Clyne, and Jand Sadler
    • DeLano Dell – Comedian
    • Frazier Bros. Athletic Artistry
    • Mahon and Scott with their Aguinaldo Serenaders “America’s Foremost Apache Sensation:
    • Miller, Packer, and Seltz “The Yaps”


It is not clear from the March 4th, 5th, and 6th, ad if Cecile Forbes, Dorothy Clyne, and Jane Sadler were part of Donna Darling’s “Little Jewel Review” or not.


Added: March 4-10, 1926 – Donna Darling and “Little Jewel Review” played at the Capital Theater in Lansing, Michigan.


[i] Donna Darling Collection – Image 1420.

[ii] Cinema Treasures – Search: Lansing Michigan All –

[iii] Cinema Treasures – Search: Jackson, Mississippi All –

[iv] I have cropped, edited, and sized the clippings for the web.

[v] IMDB – Baffled by Banjos (1924)

[vi] IMDB – Cupid á la Carte (1926)

Oil City Opera House – 15 March 1920 – “Chin Chin”

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Oil City Opera House in Oil City, Pennsylvania on 15 March 1920

We know that “Chin-Chin” played at the Franklin Opera House in Franklin, PA, on March 12th.  Certainly, the troupe played somewhere Saturday and Sunday, the 13th and 14th, but I have not discovered where—Yet.

Preshow Advertising appears to have begun on March 10th with a standard “Announcement to the Public” about the show coming. The same announcement ran on March 11th. There was also an “Amusements Ad” which spoke about Charles Dillingham and his previous successes and about some of the music in the show. That ad ran again on March 12th. There is no mention of Donna nor her role in the show.[i]

On the 12th ran a common “girls ad” for the show (See above.) and on the 13th a different advertisement ran. There was no Sunday paper for the News-Herald. The show may have sold out before Monday the 15th because there were no ads in the Monday paper.

I have not found any reviews or post-show information on this presentation.

Oil City Opera House

The Oil City Opera House is one of the few theaters that do not appear to have made the transition into film. It is not listed in any of the theater guides I have found. The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide for 1913-1914 reports that the Oil City Opera House seated 1,023 people – 389 on the lower floor, 302 in the Balcony, 300 in the Gallery, and 32 in the box seats. The stage was 32 ¼ x 24 feet.[ii]

The Julius Cahn guild mentions that there were two newspapers, in Oil City, first the Blizzard with a circulation of 3,000 and the “Derrick” with a circulation of 6,075. I have not found either of them available online. The newspaper articles and advertising I have found are from the “News-Herald” in Franklin, PA, which is about 8 miles away.

The Oil City Opera House was first built in 1872 at the head of Center street. It burned in February 1884. In the summer of 1885, several businessmen purchased the site and began construction of a new opera house. The site again burned during the 1890s.[iii] I’m not sure what would be considered “the head of Center Street.” But based on my guess, today it currently appears to be the site of an old (1940s?), abandoned bank building and a parking lot. 


[i] The News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania) · Wed, Mar 10, 1920, · Page 10, via
[ii] The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide for 1913-1914, Page 589.
[iii] Babcock, Charles A. 1919. Venango County, Pennsylvania: her pioneers and people. Volume I. Via Google Books –