“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, from Newspapers.com, I learned of five new venues for Donna.
From the Brooklyn Times Union (Brooklyn, NY) dated 25 January 1921, I learned that Donna Montran and her “California Bathing Beauties” were booked into the Keeney Theatre. The dates and length of the booking is unclear but I now know she was there in late January 1921.
The York Daily Record (York, PA) dated 4 April 1922, indicates that Donna Darling played at the York Opera House. The dates suggested are April 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Those dates are in conflict with other items I’ve found indicating that on April 3rd, 4th, and 5th Donna played in Johnstown, PA. Further investigation is needed on this topic.
From the Morning Call (Paterson, NJ)) dated 4 December 1922, I learned that Dona [sic] Darling and Boys played the Majestic Theatre on the 4th, 5th, and 6th, of December 1922.
Of particular interest, the Winona (MN) Daily News indicated that “Donna Darling and Earle” played at the Strand Theatre on May 12th and 13th 1923. This booking fits into a large gap I’ve had in her work.
Back to the Brooklyn (NY) Times Union, this time dated 5 May 1928. In that issue, I learned that Donna Darling and Somory [sic] Clark played at the Majestic Theatre in Brooklyn. Again, it is unclear what the exact dates were, but I know it was in May 1928.
Additions to Donna’s Career History
Jan 25-?, 1921 – Brooklyn, New York – Keeney Theatre – Donna Montran and her “California Bathing Beauties.”
April 3-5, 1922 – York, PA – York Opera House – Donna Darling & Boys – Conflict.
December 3-5, 1922 – Paterson, NJ – Majestic Theatre – Donna and Boys.
May 12-13, 1923 – Winona, Minnesota – Strand Theatre – “Donna Darling and Earle.”
May 5, 1928 – Brooklyn, New York – Majestic Theatre – Donna Darling and Sammy Clark.
I will further research these performances and theatres in future postings. I currently have 110 performance events to still write about and research.
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Collection. The page includes two photos, one ad for the Bijou, one non-descript ad, and two articles about Donna and Sammy playing at Lowe’s.
Lowe’s Theatre – “Seven Sinners”
The only item identified with a date is the clipping for Loew’s Theatre – “Seven Sinners”. It indicates June 24, 25, 26 and “Ont.) IMDB indicates that the movie was released on 7 November 1925 in the USA. That would suggest the film played at Loew’s in June 1926.
Donna and Sammy played at the Capitol Theater in Kitchener on June 21, 22, & 23, so it fits that after Kitchener they went the 110km (68 miles) to London to play at the Loew’s Theatre there.
The first article reads:
Dona Darling, former Zeifield Follies girl, heads an all-star vaudeville cast at Loew’s Theatre the last half of this week, and together with the famous crook story, “Seven Sinners,” as the feature picture, London theatregoers are treated to a perfectly balanced theatre bill. Mary Prevost makes a crook really too pleasant to be natural, and Clive Brook, the hero, is an excellent parallel.
The story is interesting in its novelty; everybody in it is a crook, but everybody manages to enlist the sympathies of the audience before the picture ends. The settinsg [sic] show careful choosing and the plot development is well worked out. The story consists of the efforts of seven crooks to steal jewels from a deserted mansion, and then, when the house is quarantined with them inside it, the owner returns. Situations develop which are in turn funny and tense, until, at the end, crooks are probed to be sometimes nearly human, after all.
The vaudeville bill is exceptionally fine. It is seldom that London audiences have the pleasure of seeing such smooth aerial performancers as the Aerial Smiths on the same bill as the act given by Dave Fox and Jane Allyn. This is a comedy skit of unusual merit entitled, “To Let.” The last act on the bill, the Darling and Clark Revue, has five very capable performers. The dancing in the first part is especially good.
The second clipping appears to have been clipped without the information about the motion picture. The clipping says:
AT THE THEATERS
The trapeze work of the vaudeville program is carried out by the Aerial Smiths. It is said of them that they have been a long time at it, and it can be said for them that they haven’t wasted their time. They make other acts of their kind look like the last rose of summer, especially when the climax is reached and the woman shoots out on a trapeze that suddenly lengthens as she swings in mid-air.
Fox and Allen entertain with songs and patter based upon an unsatisfactory search for an apartment in a big town. They seem to please and draw to themselves a generous amount of the applause.
The Darling and Clark Revue is not the kind that deals exclusively in dancing. It has that, too, but it also has other features equally as entertaining, including songs, whistling, a clever recitation and a darkened-stage novelty. The whole is permeated with the personality of Miss Darling, there are five persons.
The third item is a simple ad for Donna and Sammy and “Their New Revue.” There is no theatre mentioned but it reminds us that Donna was “The Scintillating Beauty” and Sammy was the “Juvenile Komik.”
Next, are two photos that appear to shoe the entire cast of the Darling and Clark Revue. It looks like one photo was taken by Donna and includes Sammy as the third person from the left. The second one looks like it was taken by Sammy and has Donna as the third person from the left. I am quite certain the other three people in these photos are the other members of the show. I will need to do a little more research to determine what their names were.
Finally, there is an ad for “Decatur’s Favorite – The Bijou” It mentions three vaudeville acts: Donna Darling and Sammy Clare [sic] Revue “A Modern Vaudeville Frolic” Donna & Sammy’s show is playing with Paul & Darling “Two Broadway Rounders” and Billy De Armo doing a comedy novelty show. It wouldn’t be clear why this clipping would be on the same page with the Loew’s Theatre clippings unless you knew that Donna and Sammy played at the Bijou Theatre in Decatur, IL only eight days later.
I was able to add a new venue to Donna’s Career. She and Sammy played June 24 to 26, 1924, in their “Darling and Clark Revue” at Loew’s Theatre in London, Ontario, Canada.
I was also able to add images I suspect are the three other performers in the show.
Finally, I was able to add another advertising clipping to Donna and Sammy’s show at the Bijou Theatre in Decatur, IL.
Research the other three individuals who play in the Darling and Clark Revue.
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at clipping DSCN1449 from the Donna Darling Collection.
Thanks to Newspapers.Com, I have long known that Donna played at the Grand Theatre in Great Falls Montana, November 26th & 27th, 1926. I hadn’t realized what a big deal it had to have been as Donna, Sammy, and Princess Winona stopping in Great Falls. The newspaper had nice photos and a long article in the newspaper of the troop. It was a rare use of her “Donna Darling playing the Balalaika” photo. Such a large article is rare for a short, two-day show.
Five Big Acts of Vaudeville Open Tonight
Princess Winona, Donna Darling and Sammy Clark of the Donna Darling Revue, headliner on the Extra vaudeville at the Grand tonight and tomorrow night.
Circumstances have made it possible for Manager Will Steege of the Grand to present an additional bill of five acts of vaudeville there tonight and tomorrow night, with the usual two shows, at 7 and 9 o’clock. The acts are here on a long jump on the way to open another Association vaudeville circuit.
The feature act is the Donna Darling revue, with Sammy Clark. Miss Darling won the Madison Square Garden beauty contest a few years ago and was afterwards featured in “Chin Chin” and also with George White and Flo Ziegfeld. With Sammy Clark, “The Juvenile Komik,” Barring and Lazur and Hal Dixon, she presents a routine of songs and dances, garnished with comedy. The beauty of the act is enhanced by special stage settings and exceptional costumes.
Zuhn and Dreis, two of the most effective epithet throwers in the varieties, are appropriately characterized as “Dement’s Americanos.” Originality is one of their gifts, and the ability to use entertaining slang is not the least of their skill.
Billy Curtis, vaudeville author and songwriter, has a skit where laugh provoking lines and tuneful music predominate. Lou Lawrence is his partner in the entertainment. “Is that the Custom?” is the name of the act, which was written by Curtis. Miss Eva Tanguay and the late Bert Williams employed Curtis as a special composer. Clever as his accomplishments were then, no doubt he gave even better effort in the writing of his own act.
Ever on the alert for novelties, Morrell and Elynore, and up-to-date couple, are on the bill for the Charleston on roller skates. They also introduce singing and comedy talk and have a sackful of variety for their program.
Appearing in Indian costume, Princess Winona sings modern Indian songs. She has a soprano voice that is sweet and well modulated. A good voice and a pleasing personality contribute to Princess Winona’s success. Her act also appeals because of its being a bit different than the ordinary vaudeville presentation.
Manager Steege is quite elated over the feature picture which opens the bill, “Rolling Home,’ the star being no less than the popular Reginald Denny.
The venue is the Grand Theatre, Great Falls, Montana
The show is the “Danna Darling Revue, with Sammy Clark” staring Donna Darling and Sammy Clark along with Barring and Lazur and Hal Dixon
“The show must go on” is a long-time show-business mantra. One of the clippings in the Donna Darling Collection tells of a harrowing story of making sure the show continues. Not only once but twice.
On September 25th and 26th 1926, Donna and Sammy played in El Paso, Texas at the Texas Grand Theatre. Knowing their typical schedule, they probably played somewhere in New Mexico on September 27th and 28th.
D & R Theatre
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor
This is another case that I’ve found where Donna’s notes, or the newspaper articles, regarding Donna’s show are incorrect. Regarding her playing at the D&R Theatre in Aberdeen, Washington, her note clearly identifies the clipping as being from Nov. 18. However, the article says that she opened “yesterday afternoon.” The D&R ¼ page ad indicates that she was showing Tuesday and Wednesday. November 18th 1926, was a Thursday which indicates that something was wrong. If the clipping were from November 17th, all would be good.
D & R Theatre – Aberdeen, Washington —“Donna Darling Review with Sammy Clark”
D & R Theater Tonight
A weird dancing and singing act in a futuristic version of the nether regions, won headline honors at the five act vaudeville show that opened yesterday afternoon at the D & R theater. Donna Darling and Sammy Clark, both well known stars of terpiscore[i], are assisted in the act by Barring, Lazure and Hal Dixon. The act moves rapidly, the stage settings are intriguing and the songs and dances spritely.
The D & R advertisement included a photo of Donna. Playing with Donna and Sammy are:
Zuhn & Dreis – Dementus Americanos
Curtis & Lawrence in “Is That the Custom”
Morell & Elynor introducing “The Charleston on Rollers”
Princess Winona “Indian Prima Donna”
What I learned:
Consequent to the above, I have updated the Donna Montran Timeline to include the following:
November 16-17, 1926 – Aberdeen, Washington – D & R Theater – Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark.
This show fits nicely between their show in Olympia, Washington, on November 12-13 and Anaconda, Montana, on November 24th.
[i] [sic] Should be terpsichore. In Greek Mythology Terpsichore was one of the muses and the goddess of dance and chorus. Terpiscore, in this context probably means “dance.”