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 42

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

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

 

THE GIRL WITH A MILLION
DOLLAR PERSONALITY

DONNA MONTRAN

PRIMA DONNA
“CALIFORNIA BATHING GIRLS”

Now at HENDERSON’S Coney Island Variety, July 30.

“Donna Montran has an undeniable million dollar smile, oodles of personality and an elastic voice that hits the high registers smoothly and effectively – would make ideal musical comedy stuff.

Abel.

Key features:

  • The venue is Henderson’s, Coney Island.
  • The show is the “California Bathing Girls.
  • The Date of the clipping is July 30, 1920.

Analysis

This is a very confusing clipping. It clearly indicates she was playing in Coney Island on July 30th. However, other articles indicate she was playing at Moss’ Broadway at 41st at the same time. Additionally, other sources indicate Donna played at Henderson’s Theatre from September 6-13.

So, I believe this write-up was wrong. Rather than being about a particular show, the article was intended to promote Donna for the personality she had and not advertise a specific show she was headlining.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 38

Treasure Chest Thursday
Family Photos (1370)

By Don Taylor

Three photos of Donna

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Scrapbook. The page had five items pasted onto it.

Preparing to Dive

Donna Montran Preparing to Dive.

When she was young, Donna was an incredible beauty. She won the beauty contest at Madison Square Garden several years before Miss America began there.[i] She was also one of the Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties. I believe this first photo probably comes from either of those periods. Certainly, the photo shows how beautiful she was. The original of this photo was a cut-out of a photo. It was torn at the top. I clipped the photo, touched it up, and pasted it onto a new background.[ii]

Donna with a Parasol

Donna with a Parasol

Donna loved to dress and look pretty. In this photo, Donna is wearing what appears to be one of her many bathing suits and she carrying a parasol. It is probably from 1920 or 1921 when she was staring in “California Bathing Girls.” It is possibly from 1924-25 when she headlined the “Motion Picture Bathing Beauties” show. This photo appears to be a promotional photo and the mark at the bottom left indicates “This Week” which was a magazine at the time. I would love to review an archive of “This Week” magazines from 1920-1925, to see if there might be a better quality photo of Donna there.

Donna

Another photo of Donna on the scrapbook page showed Donna apparently with someone. However, the photo of Donna with the parasol was pasted over half of the photo. In this photo she appears to be a bit older and the photo is clearly not a promotional in nature.

Other Images

Finally, there is a photo of a marquee with Andrew Mack at the top and Donna Montran and her Bathing Girls are listed below.  I’m still not sure where that comes from.  Hopefully, I’ll figure it out as I continue my research on the Donna Darling Collection. I have not seen Andrew Mack in any of the playbills for Donna during her Bathing Girls days.[iii]

Future Actions

  • Find a source for “This Week” magazine for between 1920 and 1925 and review them for possible photos of Donna.
  • Determine the date and place of the Andrew Mack, Donna Montran marquee photo.

Sources

Donna Darling Collection – Scan 1370.

Endnotes

[i] My feeling is that Donna was “Miss America” 3 years before the first “Miss America” pageant.

[ii] To save space, the Donna Montran “Preparing to Dive” image presented here is a 150 dpi image. I have a 600 dpi image available.

[iii] I have a copy of the original scrapbook page showing the Marquee at 600 dpi, but I hope to include the image when I determine the place and date of the engagement.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 29

Globe Theatre
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Donna Montran – Ill and Injured

The Donna Darling Collection has a page that included four little clippings. None of the four were dated. Elsewhere on that scrapbook page are articles regarding Donna’s playing at the Cosmos Theater in Washington DC in March. (More about that in another post.)

ILL AND INJURED [Transcript]

“Ill and Injured” – Donna Darling Collection

“Dave Kramer (Kramer and Boyle dislocated his knee in stepping out of an automobile. The team were forced to cancel the last half of last week as a result. (April 21)”

“Bill Vidocq. Keith agent, has returned from Lakewood and is back on the fifth floor of the Keith Exchange.

“Illness beset the Donna Montra [sic] and Bathing Girls Revue last week twofold when Juva Marconi dislocated her hip while dancing, causing her confinement in the Lankanau Hospital, Philadelphia. Later in the week Miss Montran, the prima donna of the company, underwent a nose and throat operation in New York.

[Globe Theatre, Philadelphia, May 16]

Illness Strikes Donna

“Donna Montran, who with her Bathing Beauties was forced to cancel some time through the necessity of an operation recently, has fully recovered and opens at the Globe theatre, Philadelphia, for a return engagement, May 16.”

[Ann Troy]

Ann Troy joins

“Ann Troy, dancer, has replaced Juva Marconi in the Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties act.”

[Donna Takes Summer Off]

Bathing Beauties closes for summer

“Donna Montran closed her Bathing Beauties act last week and will rest up for the summer. She will appear in production next season.”

Analysis

  1. In April 1920, Donna was still performing with “Chin-Chin” in Maryland.
  2. In March 1921, Donna was performing “Donna Montran and her California Bathing Beauties.”
  3. By April 1922, Donna had changed her stage name to “Donna Darling.”

So, we know that “ILL AND INJURED” must be referring to 1921.

  Birth, Marriage & Death CollectionApril 21 was the last half of the week of April 17 to 23. That means that Juva Marconi must have dislocated her hip sometime around April 17 to 19 and that Donna must have gone to New York for her surgery about 20th or 21st.

In Clipping 2, we learn the Donna and her Bathing Beauties opened at the Globe Theatre, Philadelphia on May 16.

In Clipping 3, we learn that Ann Troy replaced Juva Marconi in the show.

In Clipping 4, we learn that the show closed for the summer. It is unclear when that occurred.

What I learned:

  • Donna and her Bathing Beauties, including Juva Marconi, must have been playing in Philadelphia or somewhere near Philadelphia the week of 17 April 1921. Possibly the Globe Theatre.
  • Donna went to New York for nose and throat surgery about 20 April 1920.
  • Donna and her Bathing Beauties “returned” to the Globe theatre on May 16.
  • Donna and her Bathing Beauties closed sometime after May 16 for the summer.

Consequent to the above, I have updated the Donna Montran Timeline to include the following:

  • April 17, 1921 – Unknown Theater near Philadelphia (Possibly the Globe Theatre).
  • May 16, 1921 – Globe Theatre, Philadelphia, PA – Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties.
  • Date unknown [May, June, or July 1921] – Donna Closed the Show for the Summer.

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.