Donna Darling Collection – Part 20

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I am looking at three clippings from the Donna Darling Collection that indicate she played at three different Broadway Theaters; B.S. Moss’ Broadway theater in New York, The Broadway theater in Butte, (MT?), and the Broadway theater in Long Branch, NJ. None of the clippings have dates.

B.S. Moss’ Broadway Theater, New York, NY

The first clipping is a rare playbill for The California Bathing Girls and Donna Montran in “A Beach Promenade.” Previous research found that this show ran over a month, from July 26 to August 29, 1920 at B.S. Moss’ Broadway Theater.

The playbill provides much new information about the show. One of the most exciting things is that it provides names for the cast.

Besides Donna Montran, the Bathing Beauties included Alice Dean, Alice Eldridge, Dorothy Smith, Lola St. Clair, Helen Travisand, and Marie Thompson. I was surprised to see what appears to be two men in the cast, Adrian Wally and Bobby Tremaine. Also, credit is given to Behrens for costumes, Shoes by Miller, One Piece Bathing suits by Asbury Mills and the scenery was painted by Jack Klein. Tom Rooney and Earl Lindsay were the producers and the show was conceived and staged under the personal direction of Earl Lindsay.

For more information about the show see Moss’ Broadway at 41st – California Bathing Girls in “A Beach Promenade” and The Donna Darling Collection – Part 2

Broadway Theater, Butte, MT

The second clipping is an advertisement showing “An Outstanding Vaudeville Feature Act – DONNA DARLING REVUE With Sammy Clark and Company.

Showing with the Donna Darling Revue was a silent film, “Fig Leaves” starring George O’Brien and Olive Borden. According to IMDB, that film was released on 22 August 1926, so the show had to occur after that. Also, through other research I have found that the Donna Darling Review played on 27 November 1926. Butte and Helena are only 80 miles apart. With the schedule the show had, I’m sure that the Butte performance would have been within a day or two of the Helena performance.

This clipping allowed me to add another venue for Donna’s performances with an approximate date.

Broadway Theater, Long Branch, NJ

The final clipping that I am looking at this week relates to Donna and Sammy playing at the Broadway Theater in Long Branch, NJ. The program indicates that the “Darling Clark Revue” played Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, May 3-4-5. Donna and Sammy got together about 1925 and separated about 1930.  The only year on which May 3rd, 4th, and 5th, was on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday was 1926.

It is interesting to see the show called “Terpsichore Personified” and “A Novel Dance Melange.” My memory of Donna is that she had an incredible vocabulary. My mom used to say that Donna could cut you down with words and you’d never know you had been cut. I have to admit I needed to look up “Terpsichore.” Terpsichore is one of the nine Greek Muses and is the goddess of dance and chorus. That is a description that I’m sure Donna liked. I suspect she probably wrote the portrayal.

This is another new venue and date for Donna’s career. I will add it to my projects.

Actions

  • Research The Donna Darling Revue at the Broadway Theater, Butte, MT, between 24 and 30 November 1926.
  • Research “Darling Clark Revue” at the Broadway Theater, Long Branch, NJ, on 3, 4, & 5 May 1926.
  • Research Alice Dean, Alice Eldridge, Dorothy Smith, Lola St. Clair, Helen Travisand, Marie Thompson, Adrian Wally, Bobby Tremaine, Tom Rooney, and Earl Lindsay.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 19

The Bijou Theaters

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi. For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at clippings from the Donna Darling Collection that relate to the Bijou Theater. The problem is, of course, there are many theaters named Bijou and none of the clippings indicate both location and date. What I do have is:

  1. Ad clipping – Bijou – Mon – Tues – Wed – California Bathing Girls (0065)
  2. Ad, Article, and Photo – Bijou – Thur, Fri, Sat Donia Darling & Co. “Modern Vaudeville Frolics – Savannah (0155)
  3. Ad – Bijou – Hollywood Revue Motion Picture Bathing Beauties (1403)
  4. Ad – Dacatur’s Favorite – The Bijou – Donna Darling and Sammy Clare Revue – “A Modern Vaudeville Frolic” (1428) (Might be June 24, 25, 26)
  5. Ad – 5 Days – Bijou – Hollywood Motion Picture Bathing Beauties – (1504 – two parts)

Cinema Treasurers indicates there are 204 theaters in the United States named “Bijou.” Twenty-two of them are still open and 182 are now closed.[i] Consequently, determining which of the many Bijou theatres Donna played at and when will be a challenge, but here goes.

DDC Bijou Image 1 (0065)

  • Bijou Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday – California Bathing Girls.
  • Write-up Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties – in a Beach Promenade in Six Gasps and Three Shocks.
  • Also playing was Geo. Walsh in The Plunger.
  • Also on stage, Billy Bowman, Ca?pas Brothers,
  • Bo-peep and Jack Horner – Harry Sykes.

Analysis

I recalled seeing Donna Playing with “The Plunger” previously. I wrote about it in “Donna at the Bijou – New Haven, CT – Donna Darling Collection – Part 8. She played there sometime in November or December 1920.

I searched the James Blackstone Memorial Library for New Haven newspapers for Bijou and was not successful finding a match.

DDC Bijou Image 2 (0155)

The page includes an ad, an article, and a photo. The ad says:

Coming – Thur.—Fri. – Sat.
Donia [sic] Darling & Company – Modern Vaudeville Frolics
5 big acts direct from the Broadway Theaters.

Also playing at the time is “Baldwin & Blair – A Real Comedy Skit.”

Photo of Donna for Savannah Show.Also, there is a great newspaper photo of Donna with a small “Savannah Morning” pasted to the front. Below the photo the caption reads, “Donna Darling of the Donna Darling Revue, coming to the Bijou Theater Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.”

Another headline says “[F]ive Clever Acts at Bijou… Week’s beginning – [Da]rling revue is Feature of Second Half.

In so far as Darling beans beloved, a pet and a favorite, the attractive young person called Donna Darling has been well named. She has been a beloved favorite of theater-goers in musical comedy ??? in vaudeville, and well she sl?????? Be as she has all of those things which go to make a theatrical popularity. She is pretty to the extreme that not long ago she won first prize in a beauty contest. She has ability which is proven by the fact that she was the prima donna in the spectacular production “Chin Chin” and one of the Vitagraph screen Stars.

Image of Article about Donna Darlings show in SavannahMiss Darling believes in be timely and so for her present sojourn in vaudeville she presents a revue – The Donna Darling Revue. This is described as a Dazzling Fantasy. Featured in the company is Sammy Clark, a juvenile comedian of repute. The company, including Miss Darling, is a trio—three clever versatile artists who work with unction to put over this new act of hers and they succeed in making it everything this type of entertainment is supposed to be.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Bijou Theatre.
  • The show is the “Donna Darling Revue” with Sammy Clark.
  • The location is Savannah—probably Savannah, GA.
  • The show ran Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
  • Also on bill
    • Baldwin & Blair in “A Real Comedy Skit”

Cinema Treasures confirmed there was a Bijou theater in Savannah Georgia. Chronicling America (LOC) also confirms that Savannah has a morning paper called the “Savannah Morning News.”

The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark was one of the last shows that she did. We know she was doing “Donna Darling and Girls” in September 1925 and was doing the Donna Darling Revue in 1926.  By June 1927, she was doing Modern Vaudeville Frolics. From that, I surmise that this show was sometime between September 1925 and June 1927.

DDC Bijou Image 3 (1403)

This is a small ad showing Donna Darling, a Mack Sennett Prize Winner, in a tidal wave of unique dancing, blue singing, clean comedy. Everything about this ad indicates it is a smaller version of DDC Bijou Image 5.  I will address this image with image 5 below.

DCC Bijou Image 4 (1428)

Image - Bijou - Vaudeville - Donna Darling & Sammy Clark RevueDecatur’s Favorite – The Bijou
3 Vaudeville Acts
Donna Darling and Sammy Clare [sic] Revue “A Modern Vaudeville Frolic”
Paul & Darling “Two Broadway Rounders”
Billy De Armo – Comedy Novelty.

Discussion:

Event found – Need to document – See below.

 

DCC Bijou Image 5 (1504)

Ad - Bathing Beauties at BijouThis is a great ad that shows a photo of Donna but also lists many of the other individuals in the show including

  • Al Ross – Christie Comedies – Eccentric Dancing Life Guards
  • Alyce Louyse – Hawaiian Dancer and Bather from Mars.
  • Betty Bryant of Ziegfeld’s “Miss America”
  • Clarice Allyn – Petite Toe Dancer
  • May Walker – Blue Singer and Beach Flirt
  • Mildred O’Brian – Sennett Bather – Palm Beach Bather
  • Murray Earle – George White Scandals – Eccentric Dancing Life Guards
  • Rose Lasgo – Christie Comedies Acrobatic Dancer

Conclusion

Again, the Donna Darling Collection provided insights into Donna’s vaudeville career. With the Bijou pages, I gained additional information regarding three of her venues. I also learned of a show she did in Savannah that was heretofore unknown.

Actions

  1. Future Article: Donna at the Bijou in New Haven, CT, Nov/Dec 1920 – California Bathing Girls.
  2. Research later. Donna at Bijou in Savannah, GA, between Sep 1925 and June 1927 – Donia [sic] Darling & Company – Modern Vaudeville Frolics
  3. .No further Action. (See 5 below)
  4. Future Article: Donna at Bijou in Decatur, IL on July 25, 1925- Donna Darling and Sammy Clare [sic] Revue “A Modern Vaudeville Frolic”
  5. Future Article – Donna at the Bijou in Decatur, IL on January 25, 1925 – California Bathing Beauties – Donna Darling.

Sources

[i] Cinema Treasurers – Theaters Search – http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/united-states?q=Bijou

 

Donna Darling Collection – Part 17

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.California Bathing Beauties

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at several photos from the Donna Darling Collection. First, Image 0174 is a photo of Donna Darlings Bathing Beauties in a “Beach Promenade.” In most of the advertisement billings, this show was called, “The California Bathing Beauties. The show probably began in July 1920 at Moss’ Broadway at 41st and appears to have played in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Coney Island, Baltimore, Albany, Alexandria (IN), Wilkes-Barre, Reading, New Haven (CT), and Bridgeport (CT).

I have not learned who the other five women are in the photograph, but it is clearly Donna in the top back.

Photo of the Donna Darlings Bathing Beauties in a Beach Promenade
Donna Darlings Bathing Beauties in a Beach Promenade – cropped, edited, and resized for the web. See Note Below.

Photos 0194

Next, I looked at the Donna Darling Collection Item 194 – a set of seven photographs.

Two of the photos are of Donna holding Russell – one as a baby and one as a toddler with both Donna and Russell in swimming suits. Next are two photos of Russell. In one he is sitting in a walker of some sorts and the other he is standing behind a life ring aboard the SS Virginia out of New York. In 1930 Donna, Sammy, and Russell went to Panama for work. Russell would have been about three, which looks right for this photo. A Wikipedia article[i] indicates that the SS Virginia was built in 1928, was part of the American Line whose route was New York to Havana, to the Panama Canal, then on to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Photo of Russell Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran c. 1927
Russell Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran c. 1927

Photo of Russell Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran - c. 1930
Russell Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran – c. 1930.

Photo of Russell Amsterdam (Kees) in walker circa 1928
Russell Amsterdam (Kees) in walker c. 1928

Photo of Russell Amsterdam (Kees) (aboard S S Virginia) circa 1930
Russell Amsterdam (Kees) (aboard S S Virginia) c. 1930
Photo of Sammy Clark Amsterdam (with car) - 1927
Sammy Clark Amsterdam (with car) – 1927

Next is a photo of Sammy Clark Amsterdam standing alongside a car. I don’t know cars well enough to identify what it is. [If anyone that can identify it I’d love to hear from you. – Please, use the comment form below.] The license plate indicates it was in Michigan in 1927.

The final photo is something of a mystery. This is clearly Donna holding a baby, but the baby doesn’t appear to be Russell. I believe the baby is Sylvia and I believe the man is Harvey Knight, Donna’s stepfather. If so, this would be from 1932. [Photo below.]

Conclusion

December (XX) 1924 – The Bathing Beauty Review featuring Donna Darling and Murry Earle played at the Al Ringling Theatre in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Photo of Harvey Knight, baby Sylvia Amsterdam & Donna Montran on right - circa 1932.
Probably, Harvey Knight, the baby appears to be Sylvia Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran is on right – circa 1932.

Sources

[i] Wikipedia Article: SS Brazil (1928) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Brazil_(1928)

Note:

I have a higher quality image of Donna Darlings Bathing Beauties available for family members and vaudeville buffs. Please contact me via eMail or the contact form below for a copy. Cite “Image 0174.”


Donna Darling Collection – Part 16

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

(Continued from Part 15)

Bathing Girl Is Kidnaped or Just Kidding

Police Join in a Search, But Press Agent Yarn Theory Advanced

newspaper clipping: Bathing Girl Is Kidnaped or Just KiddingAlthough a number of stories including a press agent version were afloat concerning a reported kidnapng Sunday night of Helen Dawn, 16-year-old prize beauty of the “Bathing Beauties,” now playing at a Peoria theater, (see ads) police were trying to locate the girl and arrest her alleged kidnapers Monday.

According to reports made police Miss Dawn with Betty Bryant and Donna Darling, companions in the same troupe, came out of the rear of the theater shortly after 10 o’clock, Miss Dawn and Miss Bryant in the lead. As they turned the alley at Jefferson avenue a short stocky built man leaped from the side of a closed Oakland or Hudson car and seized Miss Dawn by the arm. Despite her screams he dragged her to the side of the car and another man inside helped him get the girl into the car. The man who grabbed her leaped into the car and the driver seated alone in the front seat drove away going out Jefferson avenue.

The screams of the girl attracted a large crowd, some of whom picked up several articles and some money which Miss Dawn dropped when she was seized by the man.

“Oh, they got the one with all the diamonds,” one of Miss Dawn’s companions is reported to have said during the “kidnaping,” according to an interested spectator. All press agents refuse to be interviewed about the incident.

Fitz Hugh, 224 North Jefferson avenue, who with a companion, was in a car nearby, started in pursuit of the “kidnaper’s” car but lost sight of it on Jefferson avenue. Police were scattered in riot cars in all directions and Detectives Boyser and Welty were dispatched out the Galena road in search of the girl.

According to Miss Byrant [sic] and Miss Darling, who were eye witnesses Miss Dawn had no time to struggle with her assailant.

“The man grabbed her and had her inside the car so quickly that neither of us could interfere,” Miss Bryant said. Both girls gave the same account of the “kidnaping” to police who quizzed them Monday.

The girls said the car in which Miss Dawn was taken away in was an Oakland or a Hudson car. They said Miss Dawn had joined the troupe at Los Angeles and that at none of the cities they had visited did Miss Dawn make any acquaintances who might injure her.

Annoyed at Decatur.

Clipping "Annoyed at Decatur"“The only place where anything happened was at Decatur, Ill., where Miss Dawn was persistently followed by some man who wanted to marry her,” Miss Darling. said. “This man followed her wherever she went and annoyed her frequently. I did not recognize him as the man responsible for the trouble which we met with in this city.”

Miss Dawn carried valuable jewelry and a quantity of costly diamonds on her person. She had these when seized on the street Sunday night. She was attired in a brown fur coat, black satin turbin [sic] hat, black dress and wore white cuffs.

She is especially attractive (and that’s not from the press agent either) and is a decided brunette. She is 16 years old, five feet three inches in height, and weighs 130 pounds.

What happened to Helen?  Was Donna part of a publicity stunt?  Another article clipping explains what happened.

‘Kidnaping’ Proves Just a Marriage

clipping: "Kidnapping" proves Just a MarriageThe life of a bathing beauty is not all water and swimming suits. For Helen Dawn, erstwhile member of a bathing girl troupe playing a local theater life today is made up of orange blossoms and bridal, traveling suits.

Helen, it now develops, after theatrical authorities have carried out a quiet search and investigation on their own part, was kidnaped by her lover, known only as ”Harry,” last Sunday night, just, as she with other girls was leaving the theater. A publicity stunt was suspected at first, but the continued absence of the girl brought home the serious aspect of the event.

Last, night a telegram from Helen Dawn, from Chicago, explained that she had gone to Chicago, to marry “Harry,’ that she was happy, and that impetuous “Harry” had adopted the “kidnaping” stunt as a means of breaking her contract.

They were going east for their honeymoon, the telegram stated.

Donna’s week in Peoria was exciting. Great fun selling tickets for the Legion and an apparent kidnaping right in front of her. (Although, it is possible that she was in on the marriage.)

Apollo Theater

Photo of the Apollo Theater, Peoria, IL
Apollo Theater, Peoria, IL – Photo courtesy “Granola” via Cinema Treasurers.

The Apollo opened in 1914 could seat over 800 in its auditorium, The theater closed in 1958. In 1988 the Apollo was purchased and lovingly restored to its original appearance. Since 2001, it has housed the Apollo International Film Group, which screens foreign, classic and independent movies in an early 20th century setting. Today it is known as the Apollo Fine Arts and Entertainment Center.

Conclusion

I learned that Donna played at the Apollo in Peoria, IL the week 1 February 1925, which is a new venue for Donna.  I also learned the cast names for her Bathing Beauties Revue.

Actions

I’d like to learn more about the careers of the other cast members. What was Christie Comedies. Did any of the cast become big names in show business? The people for me to research include:

  • Betty Bryant – Miss America from Ziegfeld’s
  • Mildred O’Brian – From Sennett’s
  • Clarice Allyn – Christie Comedies
  • Alyce Louyse – Christie Comedies
  • Rose Lasgo – Acrobatic Dancing
  • Florence Rielliso – Spectacular Dancing
  • [Murray] Earle – Christie Comedies
  • [Al] Ross – Christie Comedies
  • Helen Dawn – Hollywood Society Girl

Donna Darling Collection – Part 15

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

Donna Darling and Hollywood Motion Picture Bathing Beauties at the Apollo, 1 Feb 1925 in Peoria, IL

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at clippings from the Donna Darling Collection relating to her playing at the Apollo Theatre in Peoria, IL, in 1925.

Newspaper clipping - Ad - Apollo Theater showing Hollywood Motion Picture Bathing Beauties.Donna’s clippings from her time in Peoria are some of the most interesting clippings that I have. First, there is a list of her Bathing Beauties cast, a never seen before photo of Donna, and a good description of the show and what various individuals are doing. Second, there is something of a mystery for me to solve regarding the date she played in Peoria and the Apollo. Third, there is additional press about Donna and her troupe of beauties supporting the local American Legion. Finally, there is a mystery of the kidnapping of one of her cast members.

The Apollo advertisement provides the names of her entire cast and a claim to fame. They were:

  • Donna Darling – Mack Sennett’s Prize Winner
  • Betty Bryant – Miss America from Ziegfeld’s
  • Mildred O’Brian – From Sennett’s
  • Clarice Allyn – Christie Comedies
  • Alyce Louyse – Christie Comedies
  • Rose Lasgo – Acrobatic Dancing
  • Florence Rielliso – Spectacular Dancing
  • [Murray] Earle – Christie Comedies
  • [Al] Ross – Christie Comedies
  • Helen Dawn – Hollywood Society Girl

There is also an amazing clipping of Donna, leaning back showing a leg.

Hollywood Revue of
Bathing Beauties Is
Special at Apollo

Bathing beauties from various motion picture studios of California will appear in a special Hollywood revue at the Apollo theater for one week beginning Sunday, February 1. Miss Donna Darling, who features in this revue, is the well-known star from Sennett’s. She is the originator of the principal part of “Chin Chin,” the famous musical play. She has won beauty prizes in Boston, New. York and San Francisco. Her dancing is excellent and her lyrical songs are surpassed only by her clever and pleasing personality. She presents the bathing girls of 1860 and follows them to the present day when Betty Bryant in a crimson bathing suit represents “Miss America of Today.”

Bathers from various famous beaches appear in charming costumes. Clever Clarice Celynn [sic – s/b Allyn] represents the Chinese toe dancer. Allyce Louyse, the Hawaiian bather, and Mildred O’Brien from Christie, dance to snappy music preceding a spectacular balloo [sic] dance in the “Bathers from Mars.”

When Miss Darling left the coast she was followed by two life guards: Murray Earle, formerly a specialty dancer of “George White Scandals,” and Al Ross, late of Christie. These life guards are eccentric dancers who add comedy to the revue.

Special scenic and lighting effects elaborate this unusual attraction. The costumes are elaborate from the opening of the revue to its end, at which time Miss Darling appears in a rhinestone bathing suit.

“Fifth Avenue Models,” a picture completes the program.

Date Problem?

Second, I was a bit confused about the date of the show. Several clippings indicate the show began on February 1st, however, the movie that was playing with her show is identified in IMDb and Wikipedia has having been released on April 25, 1925, nearly three months after Donna’s playing.[i], [ii] It is unusual for a silent film to have been playing in a theater nine months after its release, so I was confused. I found that the British Film Institute indicates the film was released in 1924.  Finally, the December 3, 1924 issue of Los Angeles Times has a preview of the film released by Universal.[iii] I have also found it playing at several other theaters long before April 25th; so, I’m convinced that both IMDb and Wikipedia are incorrect in their release dates.

Beauties help American Legion

Third, there are two clippings relating to the ‘Bathing Beauties” helping the American Legion.

I just love photos and a photo of the girls from the revue in their bathing suits is fantastic.

“The above is a picture of Donna Darling, Mack Sennett’s prize winner, and eight other Hollywood bathing beauties who will auction tickets to “Buddies,” the American Legion comedy success, next Tuesday, beginning at 12 o’clock noon, in front of The Journal-Transcript building. “Buddies” will be staged by the Gifford Players at the Hippodrome theater all this week. The legion’s proceeds from all advance sale tickets will go toward a home for ex-service men. Donna Darling and her troupe of vamps are appearing at the Apollo theater this week in a song and dance revue.

Although it mentions Donna and eight others, sadly, there is only Donna and six others in the image.

There is also a simple, follow-up article which states:

Bathing Beauties
Sell 224 Tickets
For Legion’s Show

Pedestrians who passed by The Journal office today noon failed to resist the beauty and smiles of the “Bathing Beauties” who are now playing at a Peoria theater, and who proved themselves good saleswomen. During their brief selling campaign today, they sold 224 tickets for “Buddies,” the show now playing at the Hippodrome theater for the benefit of Peoria Post No. 2, American Legion. The position left vacant by Helen Dawn, who is missing from the cast, is being taken by Mildred O’Brien. No trace of the Dawn girl has been found, according to members of the troupe.

The last sentence of the above article brings me to the kidnapping of Helen Dawn. I’ll post about that next week in Part 16 of the Donna Darling Collection.


Sources

[i] Internet: IMDb – Fifth Avenue Models (1925) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0015803/

[ii] Internet: Wikipedia – Fifth Avenue Models https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Avenue_Models

[iii] The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) · Wed, Dec 3, 1924 · Page 58 (Pre-view section page 11) – Accessed via Newspapers.com – https://www.newspapers.com/image/158829161