Donna One Hundred Years Ago – January 12th to 15th, 1921.

“Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties in a Beach Promenade” played at the Majestic Theatre in Paterson, NJ, one hundred years ago this week.

I haven’t discovered where Donna was playing from January 1st through January 11th. However, on January 12th she played at the Majestic Theatre in Paterson, NJ. From The News (Paterson, NJ) 13 January 1921:

MAJESTIC

The News (Paterson, NJ) 13 Jan 1921, Pg. 9

Perhaps there has not been a prettier act staged at the Majestic theater than that of “The Bathing Beauties,” which held forth there yesterday. Perhaps there has not been an act with such a pronounced wealth of color. For “The Bathing Beauties,” ten pretty girls from the sunny climate of California were ushered in with a gorgeous setting that was accentuated by their own charming selves. The richness of the investiture and the more accentuated comeliness of the artists made possible an offering that is practically invincible in the world of variety. Donna Montran leads the procession of beautiful girls that appear in the act and the scene presented in that of a beach where there is all the sunshine and azure blue of the California skies. The attraction will certainly do justice to the feature position of the bill for it cannot be surpassed in point of color and scintillancy. The Bathing Beauties scored a very big success with yesterday’s audience and will assuredly retain that popularity throughout the balance of the week.

Likewise, the Morning Call also had a great article about the Bathing Beauties in their newspaper.

MAJESTIC

“The Bathing Beauties.”

The News (Paterson, NJ) 13 Jan 1921, Page 9

Ten pretty California girls, bringing with them all the beauty and charm of that lovely Western country, will grace the feature position of the current bill at the Majestic theatre in “The Bathing Beauties,” said to be vaudeville’s daintiest act. These comely artists, surrounded by a veritable shower of scenes and electrical effects, making possible one of the most scintillating color schemes ever adopted for a vaudeville act, will offer a production of the most unique type for Paterson playgoers. “The Bathing Beauties” cannot be surpassed in point of pulchritude. And when this beauty is enhanced by an attractive beach setting, marked out in all the rich color and effect of which stagecraft is capable then there is no alternative for playgoers but to be charmed by this most brilliant of variety specialties. “The Bathing Beauties” is one of the most expensive productions ever brought here, but Manager Walsh is not sparing expense when the interest of the patrons is concerned. The act will be a big favorite here.

The Morning Call – 14 Jan 1921

The display ads and the text provide information regarding other acts on the bill.

These include:

  • Sailor Lonra “On the Flexible Pole.”
  • Manning & Lee “After the Matinee.”
  • Jones & Johnson “Darktown’s Brightest Entertainers.” (A blackface routine)
  • Milani Fullardo Four – Comedy, Singing and Music.

As the “Bathing Beauties” were finishing the week, The Morning Call had one more article.

The Morning Call (Paterson, NY) 13 Jan 1921, Page 11

MAJESTIC

“Bathing Beauties.”

“The Bathing Beauties” are the predominant attraction at the Majestic theatre the last part of this week and are scoring a big success. A wealth of color and charm attends the production of this pretty specialty and the audiences have been quick to appreciate the calibre of the act. No other attraction of the present season has achieved as much popularity as this engaging combination of action and pulchritude. “The Bathing Beauties,” led by Donn Montran, have proved one of the best numbers staged here in many weeks.

Majestic Theatre – Paterson, New Jersey

Photo Credit: Paterson History – The Rich History of the City of Paterson, NJ – Photos – Theaters.

This appearance is Donna’s first know showing at The Majestic Theatre in Paterson; however, she played there again in December 1922.

The Majestic Theater opened on 28 November 1910 and was demolished in the 1970s.[i]

In 1921 The Majestic had a seating capacity of 1,200 and showed both vaudeville and pictures. It was part of the Keith Vaudeville Circuit. The stage was 40’ wide, 28’ deep, and 60’ high.[ii]

Besides the Call and the News, there were four other papers. “Chronicle,” “Press,” “Passaic News,” and “Herald.”


Endnotes

[i] “Majestic Theater In Paterson, NJ – Cinema Treasures”. 2020. Cinematreasures.Org. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/7969.

[ii] The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill theatrical guide and moving v.20 1921 Page 256, New Jersey – Paterson – Majestic Theatre. Hathi Trust – https://hdl.handle.net/2027/coo.31924063709764?urlappend=%3Bseq=300

Donna Darling Collection – Part 70

Two Strand Theaters

Treasure Chest Thursday
Vaudeville
“As You Like It”
“Bathing Beauty Revue”

By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at three images from the Donna Darling Collection that relate to the Strand Theater.

MISS DONNA DARLING

Who with her Dancing Boys will be at the Strand first half next week in a dance revue entitled “As You Like It”.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Strand. No Location is provided.
  • Date is not provided.
  • The show is “As You Like It.”

Analysis

Although the cropped image doesn’t include any other clues, the original torn out image mentions “William de Mille” and “__ter the Show” is playing somewhere.  “After the Show” was released in October 1921.[i] So, it appears that the date for the show is probably October or November 1921.

Donna’s “As you Like It” show began in June 1921 and ran until October 1922. Donna played the Strand theater in Ithaca, New York and played the Strand theater in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, in February 1922. This clipping could be from either of those shows, but it is more likely from an earlier show at a here-to-for unknown Strand theater she played in late 1921.

Conclusion

Circa Oct-Nov 1921 – Strand Theater – (Unknown Location) Donna Darling “As You Like It.” DDC-70.

Second Strand Clipping

Mabel Talliaferro at Strand

The most notable engagement of the present season at the Strand is announced by the management for the first half of this week, in presentation of that charming artist of stage and screen, Mabel Talliaferro, who is appearing in person in “Connie,” a playlet of comedy and romance with Daniel Moyles and Edmund Soraghan. Miss Talliaferro has been secured for a limited engagement in vaudeville and has been brought out of New York city for one week, split between the Strand and Proctor’s Grand Theatre, Albany, and will be a headliner at both theatres. Other big-time stars will be secured and as the big-time acts will not take a booking of less than a week, they will be divided between the Strand and Proctor’s Grand in Albany, which theatre has a ninety-nine cent admission.

Another engagement for the first half of next week at the Strand is Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties in “A Beach Promenade” which is a headliner. This act carries a beautiful setting, stunning costumes, and ten of “California’s selected peaches.”

Other acts on the bill are Fred and Tommy Hayden;”  “The American Englishman,” and Wolfred and Stephens, who are billed as “The Boys That Are Different.” “The Ghost in the Garret,” which is Dorothy Gish’s latest starring vehicle, will be screened. The latest Pathe News completes the bill.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Strand (somewhere near Albany, New York).
  • The date is not provided.
  • The show is “A Beach Promenade.”

Analysis

The Strand Theatre in Albany opened November 19, 1920. “It was billed as “New York State’s Most Beautiful Theatre.”[ii] “The Ghost in the Garret” was released in February 1921.[iii]

Donna’s “A Beach Promenade” show began in July 1920 and ran until March 1921. Donna played at the Clinton Theatre in Albany during September 22-25. So, this appears to be a new venue for this show. HOWEVER –

Strand Ad Clipping

Strand Theatre

Largest and Best Theatre Orchestra in Town  |  Consistently the Best Show in Town.

“When Better Shows Come to Amsterdam, The Strand will Present Them.”  |  Tonight, Tomorrow & Wednesday

Engagement Extraordinary  |  Mabel Taliaferro (herself)  |  Famous Star of Stage and Screen, in  |  “Connie”  | A One Act Playlet of Comedy and Romance.

Fred & Tommy Hayden – The American Englishmen.

Wolfred & Stephens – The Boys That Are Different.

Engagement De Luxe  |  Donna Montran and her  |  California Bathing Beauties  | With Ten of California’s Selected Peaches.

Photoplay—Paramount Presents  |  Dorothy Gish  |  Premier Comedienne of the Screen, in  |  “The Ghost in the Garret.”

Key features:

  • The venue is the Strand, Amsterdam, New York.
  • Date is not provided.
  • The show is “California Bathing Beauties.”

Analysis

This advertisement clipping and the previous “article” were physically on the same page of my grandmother’s scrapbook. They also had the exact same acts, so, my initial thought was they were of the same show. Then I realized that one was for the Strand in Albany and the other was for the Strand in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a small town about 35 miles northwest of Albany. A review of Amsterdam theatres indicated that “The Lyceum Theatre was operating prior to 1914. By 1931, it had been renamed Strand Theatre and was operated by the Schine Circuit.”[iv] So the question arises, when did the Lyceum change its name to Strand? Anyway, I was really confused.

In 1921, the Amsterdam Theatre, managed by Ed. Clapp was the only theater in Amsterdam, New York, listed in Julius Cahn-Gus Hill theatrical guide.[v]

Research at FultonHistory.Com led to the exact ad and article (from above). It ran on page 6 of the January 31, 1921 issue of the Amsterdam Evening Recorder confirming the date and location of the show.

Conclusion

January 31 – February 2, 1921 – Strand Theater (Amsterdam, NY) – Donna Montran and her “California Bathing Beauties.” DDC-70. (New Venue)


Endnotes & Sources

[i] IMBD After the Show (1921) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0011912/.

[ii] Cinema Treasures – Strand Theatre, 110 N. Pearl Street, Albany, NY 12207 http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/44094.

[iii] IMDB The Ghost in the Garret (1921) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0012214/.

[iv] Cinema Treasures – Strand Theatre, 133 E. Maine Street, Amsterdam, NY 12010. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/37477.

[v] (1921). The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill theatrical guide and moving picture directory. New York, N.Y.: Julius Cahn-Gus Hill. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924063709764&view=1up&seq=7

 

Donna Darling Collection – Part 65

Treasure Chest Thursday
Vaudeville

By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at five clippings from three pages of the Donna Darling Collection that all relate to Donna’s playing at the Pantheon Theatre in Vincennes, Indiana.

Luckily, one of the clippings has a newspaper title and date with it. With that information, I was able to find the exact newspaper online at the Knox County Public Library’s Advantage Preservation site.

The article was clipped from the Vincennes, (Ind.) Morning Commercial dated April 28, 1925.

BATHING GIRLS MAKE BIG SHOW

“Just hang your clothes upon a limb, but don’t go near the water.” This winding-up or finish of a poem perhaps fitted through the minds of more than one person who witnessed Donna Darling and her Bathing Girl Revue at the Pantheon theatre last night. The bathing beach scenes were excellent—all except the bathing beach.

From the Donna Darling Collection

There were girls, with their latest creation of bathing suits gorgeous, but conspicuous in their scantiness. There were lifeguards—two of them—but the beauty of the bathing girls, it must be confessed, distracted from the attention given the guards.

The show opened with a display of bathing suits of the days of 1860, in the days when modesty was more prevalent than in 1925. Then came the bathing girls of 1890, a little more daring in the style of their bathing suits; the girls of 1900, still more daring and finally, a modern girl, strutting proudly in the latest fashion creation in bathing suits.

In lieu of water in which to swim the girls displayed some rare talent at dancing. The Honolulu bathing girl, with her abbreviated suit consisting principally of seaweeds, and her exceptional ability at dancing, drew hearty applause. The Dutch bathing girl also proved a good dancer and was generously applauded. Each number pleased the audience, a fact evidenced by the hearty applause.

The feature picture, “Cheaper to Marry,” with Lewis Stone, Conrad Nagel, Marguerite De LaMotte and other stars, was an added feature to one of the best bills that has been presented at the Pantheon for some time. The show will be given tonight and tomorrow….

From the Donna Darling Collection.

Along with the article, there is a clipping that came from the April 29th newspaper. It showed Donna and her Bathing Girl Revue. Through the articles and advertisements in the paper that I found I learned of a new venue for Donna

Key features:

  • The venue is the Pantheon Theatre.
  • The show is the “Donna Darling and her Bathing Girl Revue.”
  • Also on the bill
    • The movie “Cheaper to Marry.”
  • Played Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday, April 27-29, 1925.

The other clippings, although interesting, do not add any new information regarding the show or the venue.

New Venue added:

April 27-29, 1925 – Pantheon Theatre – Vincennes, IN – Donna Darling and her Bathing Girl Revue.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 61

Rivoli Theater

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at clippings from the Donna Darling Collection that talk about the Rivoli Theater.

The first item is a newspaper clipping from the Rivoli Theatre where F. L. Koppelberger was manager. It says Donna played there January 7, 8, 9, &10 January 1925. Previous research found that Donna played at the Rivoli theater in La Cross, Wisconsin on those dates. So that is a clear add-in clipping for.

January 7-10, 1925 – La Cross, Wisconsin – Rivoli – California Bathing Beauties Revue.

This is a particularly interesting clipping. It shows the two-dozen vignettes that comprised of Donna’s 1925 Bathing Beauty Show.

  • Clarice Allyn
  • Betty Bryant
  • Katheryn Carlson
  • Donna Darling
  • Murry Earl
  • FNU Flaherty
  • Alice Louise
  • Mildred O’Brien
  • Al Ross

Donna was “Miss Prolog” and “Miss 1860.” She starred in “The Globe Trotter,” “Donna” (herself), “You Bet Your Life,” “The Jazzbo Bathers,” and in the closing review.

Other shows on the bill included “Douglas MacLean in “Never Say Die” and Larry Semon giving the news and in “Trouble Brewing.” That will help confirm the other clippings. In 1925, two years before the first “talkies” theaters often provided a news segment that was narrated by a local individual. In this case, Larry Semon was the narrator. His name on other advertising shows which Rivoli theater would be correct. Other clippings show that his Rivoli theater had unique rivets in the theater logo.

The ads use different names for two of the cast – Miss Katheryn Kolleen and Miss Myrtle Carlson are identified as members of the show.

Also, the clippings include two advertisements from the Rivoli. One shows a woman diving, but the other shows a woman sitting in a shell. I’ve not seen that image before in Donna’s advertising.

Actions

There is another set of “Rivoli” Theatre clipping that appears to relate to Donna and Sammy playing at the Rivoli in Portland, Oregon.  I’ll look at those closer next time.

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 —–