Treasure Chest Thursday
Bathing Girl Review
By Don Taylor
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a clipping from the Donna Darling Collection of what appears to be about her playing at the “Indiana Theatre.”
“The Gayety Girl” starring Mary Philbin was released 31 July 1924.[i]
Presenting her “Bathing Beauty Review” sometime in September or October 1924 in Indiana is certainly possible. She played in Illinois in July and August of 1924. Most silent films only played for a couple of months after release, so I suspect it was between July and October she was at the “Indiana.”
Cinema Treasures indicated there were 19 theatre’s name “Indiana Theatre.”[ii] They are:
Town (County) Date Opened
Chicago, IL About 1910
Marian (Grant Co.) Circa 1922
East Chicago Feb 1925
South Bend Aug 1925
Indiana, PA Jul 1924
Terre Haute (Vigo Co.) 1922
Kokomo (Howard Co.) 1920
New Albany (Floyd) 1919
Bloomington (Monroe Co.) 1911
Martinsville Was “Switow’s Dream Theatre” from 1914 until 1917.
Richmond Was “Murray Theater” from 1909 until 1930.
Bedford Was “Stone City Opera House” from 1901 until 1924.
Indianapolis (Marion Co.) Was “Gayety Theater in 1907. Period it was Indiana Theater unknown.
Fort Wayne 1930
Fort Wayne Was “Broadway Theatre” from 1923 until 1934.
Theatres that are possible are bolded.
So, the most likely “Indiana Theatres” were in Marian, Terre Haute, Kokomo, New Albany, and Bloomington. Bedford, Indianapolis, Chicago (IL), and Indiana (PA) are also possible but not quite as likely.
The venue is probably the Indiana Theater, location unknown, After July 1924.
The show is the “Bathing Beauty Revue” starring Donna Darling.
Also on bill
Mary Philbin in “The Gayety Girl”
A lengthy search of Newspapers.Com, Newspaper Archives, Genealogy Bank, Chronicling America, and the Hoosier State Chronicles failed to yield any new information about the probable show location or date. Additionally, I didn’t see any advertisements for an “Indiana” theatre that used a similar font and design as the Donna Darling Collection clipping.
Because newspapers from 1924 will fall out of copyright next year, and because so many publications are being added to the various newspaper services every year, I’ve decided to put this on hold and will return to it in the future.
I have long known that Donna played at the Cosmos Theater in Washington D.C. a couple times. First, she did the “California Bathing Girls” show on September 19-21, 1920. She then returned to the Cosmos in March 1921. The clippings that she had were from the September show as evidenced by the other acts on the playbill. The second clipping for the Crescent Theatre in Perth Amboy is confusing and proves I got something wrong in a previous posting.
Cosmos—“California Bathing Girls”
“The California Bathing Girls,” Tom Rooney’s Broadway sensation, the headline attraction at the Cosmos theater this week, foretells an early spring, if weight and daintiness of costumes and the unfolding of feminine buds be an indication. Donna Montran, an attractive singer, introduces the bathers one by one, and Anna La Toy executes some difficult and attractive poses….”
The Crescent—“As You Like It”
The clipping is from the Perth Amboy Evening News dated May 11, 1922, and shows Donna Darling & Company in “As You Like It” with Murray Walker and Jack Finney in a Song and dance cocktail. There wouldn’t be any question about the show and the date except I had previously determined that Donna and Company played B.F. Keith’s Greenpoint Theater the week of 11-17 May 1922 (See Donna Darling at B.F. Keith’s Greenpoint.) So, now I am confused. I’ll need to do a lot more research on her playing at both theaters to be sure of the dates.
What I learned:
Consequent to the above, I have updated the Donna Montran Timeline to include the following:
May 11, 1922 – Perth Amboy – Donna Darling & Company in “As You Like It” (Possible conflict with B. F. Keith’s Greenpoint)
For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at several vaudeville clippings from three different pages of the Donna Darling Collection. All of them relate to the Colonial Theater. One to the Colonial Theater in Lancaster, PA. The second one the Colonial Theater in Washington DC, and the third Colonial theater in Detroit, MI. Determining the various locations and dates was challenging but led to new words for my vocabulary and some amazing finds.
Lancaster, PA – Colonial Theater
The first venue was easy to analyze. Donna wrote on the clipping “Lancaster Pa Apr. 15.” It appears that she also wrote “Intelligence.” but I have no idea what that might mean in this context.
Colonial – Keith Vaudeville – Best in the World Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday—April 17, 18, 19 Special Easter Show Miss Donna Daring and Co…. Bruce Morgan and Tom Moran, Valentine Vox, Transfield Sisters, [Movie] “Haunted Spooks: A Two-reel Lloyd Comedy…
PROGRAM AT COLONIAL STARTS WITH WHIRL
Yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s program at the Colonial Theatre, opened with a whirl at last evening’s show. “A Song, A Dance and a Cocktail,” was the feature of the show. Miss Dona Darling eclipsed the limelight in brightness, wit and personality of exceptional quality combined with a vein of rascality that had the audience in constant bursts of amusement.
The rest of the program….
Donna Darling and Company was a show that she had during 1922. A quick check of a 1922 calendar confirmed that April 17th, 18th, and 19th, were Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in 1922. Then on Cinema Treasures, I confirmed that there was once a Colonial Theater in Lancaster, PA. It opened before 1914 and later became the Boyd Theater. Besides the newspaper ad there were two short write-ups regarding the show. This was a new date and location for me. Of particular interest is that the newspaper clearly says, “Donna Daring.” This is a new search parameter for me to use in the future.
Washington, DC – Colonial Theater
Colonial Theater – Two Shows 2 P.M., 7:30 Tom Rooney Presents Donna Montran and Her California Bathing Beauties presenting “A Classy Beach Promenade” An Up to the Minute Musical Tabloid A Carload of Scenery and Fetching Costumes
Also, on the bill:
Little Dolly Dimples and her “Man O’ Wars Man”
Taylor & Brown – Daring Doings Herbert Trainor – Pleasing Magic Davis & Kidaire “Make ‘em Smile Boys” [Movie] Alice Calhoun Vtagraph [sic] Favorite in Princess Jones (6 Parts)
The second clipping was dated March 15th. Donna still went by Montran and she did her California Bathing Beauties in 1921. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of March 1921 were the 14th, 15th, and 16th. Her mentioning it was the Washington papers that the ad ran in, tightens the location to the Colonial Theater in Washington, DC.
Detroit, MI – Colonial Theater
Featured in Vaudeville
The following features are announced for the week by the leading vaudeville houses:
Temple –May Wirth….
Colonial – A beautifully stages singing and dancing act in a futuristic version of the nether regions[ii], offered by Donna Darling, former Follies performer, is to headline the vaudeville. Miss Darling and Sammy Clark are both well known stars of terpischore[iii] and are assisted in the act by Barring, Lazure and Hal Dixon. Other acts include…. The Colonial announces a special New Year’s eve show, starting at midnight.
This third clipping confused me a bit. I misread the last sentence which says, “The Colonial announces a special New Year’s eve show, starting at midnight.” I misread that it to mean the special show was while Donna was playing there. I searched and searched for a place that had both a Temple Theater and a Colonial Theater. I could only find two places, Chicago and Detroit. Being in Detroit during the holidays made sense as Donna’s mother lived there. I found she played at the Palace Theater in Rockford during Christmas and at the Orpheum in Des Moines in New Years. During my search I used many new search parameters to look for Donna. I ended up finding well over a hundred new dates and venues. It was truly amazing what I found. I have added the new dates and venues to my Donna Montran page.
I eventually came to the conclusion that the note regarding a New Year’s Eve show doesn’t apply to Donna’s show.
Three new dates and venues directly identified because of Donna’s Colonial Theater clippings.
Mar 14-16, 1921 – Washington, DC – Colonial Theatre – Donna Montran and her California Bathing Beauties. DDC Part 27
April 17-19, 1922 – Lancaster, PA – Colonial – Donna Daring and Co., DDC Part 27
December 19, 1926 – Detroit, Michigan – Colonial – Donna Darling Revue – DDC Part 27 – Also see: Genealogy Bank
There were also over 100 new dates and performance venues I discovered while doing this research. They have been applied to the Donna Montran Vaudeville Page.
Genealogy Bank was used extensively during this research.
Further search my newspaper sources for “Donna Daring.”
[i] I have cropped and sized all images for the web – Original scan’s available.
[ii] Wikipedia – Hell, the Underworld, or any place of darkness or eternal suffering
[iii] [sic] “terpischore” should be terpsichore – Wikipedia – In Greek mythology, Terpsichore (/tərpˈsɪkəriː/; Τερψιχόρη) “delight in dancing” was one of the nine Muses and goddess of dance and chorus. She lends her name to the word “terpsichorean” which means “of or relating to dance”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terpsichore
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I looked at several clippings from the same page of the Donna Darling Collection. Two of them relate to the 23rd Street Theater, One to the 125th Street theater and three mini-clippings that seem unrelated.
DONNA DARLING and CO. (2) Songs and Dances 22 Mins.; Full Stage (Special Hanging) 23rd St.
Donna Darling is a blond miss of fair voice supported by two male dancers in a neatly devised offering enhanced by colorful hangings.
The opening in “one” before a gold and black drop includes “Tell Me Pretty Maiden” and Silver Lining,” followed by a Pat Rooney impersonation by one of the boys. The parting of the curtains discloses attractive full stage hangings following the gold and black color scheme, the featured member appearing in a crinoline gown, for bits of old-fashioned numbers, including piano playing.
The turn drags at the point, especially with the first old-time songs. The boys return in Colonial costumes for a minuet by the trio, followed by a soft shoe and jazz stepping by the male team. Miss Darling then offers a light operatic number followed by a solo stepping hit by one of the boys and a triple tin soldier and doll specialty. A wedding number with one of the chaps as the minister tops off the turn.
The act is a flash for the three-a-day. At times chances for the bigger houses are displayed. The male dancers display ability with Miss Darling, securing fair returns vocally. The turn is running over time at present. With some pruning should improve materially.
The next clipping is an encapsulation of the entire show. There were seven vaudeville acts
The first hall bill….
… Donna Darling and Co. (New Acts) were the proper kind of a flash for the closing position, holding the audience and securing applause returns.
There was nothing in either article that suggested where the 23RD St. theater is nor when the show played. At the bottom of the scrapbook page was a small ad for F.F.Proctor’s. It shows that the 23rd St. theater is near 6th Ave. It also shows that Donna Darling & Co. was at the 125th St. Theater between Park and Lexington.
I was a bit confused, because of the differences between the 23rd St. and 125th St. theaters, but from the ads I knew they were New York. Also, Donna Darling & Co. was a 1922 production.
I began searching Newspapers.Com and quickly found the identical ad, in “The Evening World” (New York, New York) · Fri, May 26, 1922 · Page 26, which showed her playing at the 125th St Theater. This ad is really significant. Family oral history says that once upon a time, Donna was proposed to by Bert Lahr, later famous for his role as the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.” This ad, suggests that Donna and Bert Lahr at least knew each other as they played at the same theater at the same time.
Then, using Elephind, I found, on the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection (UIUC), The New York Clipper which on May 24, 1922, page 21, reported that Dona [sic] Darling Co. played at 23rd St, the first half of the week of May 22nd . The Clipper also reported that Donna played at B. F. Keith Vaudeville in Jersey City the first half of the following week (May 29th thru 31st).
The New York Clipper, on May 31, 1922, page 11, reported that Donna Darling and Company played at 125th Street theater the last half of the week (June 1, 2, & 3) at Proctor’s 125th Street. That issue had a nice write-up saying:
Donna Darling and Company had a neat offering. Miss Darling is dainty in looks, manners and voice and in her routine of songs showed herself thoroughly conversant. In the “My Hero” number she evidently lacked confidence but regained her composure in short order for the rest of the act. In old fashioned crinoline costume, she sang portions of old song favorites and finished with a brief session at the piano. The company, consisting of two clever young men dancers and singers were dressed appropriate to the period. Miss Darling looked best in pink, and in the wedding ceremony showed clever footwork in eccentric dancing, also in the mechanical toy dance, in which Miss Darling was a lively doll.
The June 7th Clipper adds a lot to the story. It includes a picture of Donna, Murray Walker, and Jack Finney and a caption that they closed Proctor’s 58th Street and are taking a 5-week vacation. The newspaper copy image isn’t very good, but it is something. It suggests that Donna Darling & Company played Proctor’s 58th Street from June 4th to June 6th.
Finally, there were three little clippings in Donna’s scrapbook. They too came from the June 7th, Clipper. One said:
Donna Darling left for Detroit, her home town, this week, where she will undergo an operation for the removal of tonsils.
The second clip says
Murray Walker is leaving for Canada this week for a month’s rest.
And the third,
Jack Finney is going to Philadelphia this week to visit his folks for a month before reopening with Donna Darling.
When I was young, I was often plagued with tonsillitis. Removal or keeping tonsils seems to have undergone sweeps each way. Some years they were kept if at all possible, other years they yanked them out. I recall talking with Donna and my mother about my tonsils and I remember Donna saying hers had been removed and it was no big thing. But we were poor and had no health insurance, so I kept mine. But back in 1922, Donna was 29 years old, and doing well. So, even though she was older than typical, she had her tonsils removed — maybe they were affecting her singing.
Discovering four more venues for Donna’s career is a good week for research. Being reminded of her tonsillectomy and learning that she actually did take vacations during her vaudeville years was good to find out. And finally, confirming that she actually would have known Bert Lahr, and the story of his proposal to Donna might be true, is priceless.
May 22-24, 1922 – F.F. Proctor’s 23rd Street Theater (at 6th Avenue) New York, NY – Donna Darling & Co.
May 29-31, 1922 – B.F. Keith’s Vaudeville, Jersey City, NJ – Donna & Co.
June 1-3, 1922 – F. F. Proctor’s 125th Street (Park & Lex) New York, NY – Donna Darling & Company.
June 4-6, 1922 – F.F. Proctor’s 58th Street Theater, New York – Donna Darling & Company.
June 7 until about July 10, 1922 – Vacation. Donna has tonsils removed.
Oh, and while searching I found one more venue for Donna’s show. From March 30th to April 5th, 1922 – she played in Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
I’ll bet, when I have a chance to research more, I’ll find that Donna played at the 5th Avenue Theater. Probably May 25th thru the 27th. Just guessing, but it would fit the pattern.
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:
Ad clipping – Bijou – Mon – Tues – Wed – California Bathing Girls (0065)
Ad, Article, and Photo – Bijou – Thur, Fri, Sat Donia Darling & Co. “Modern Vaudeville Frolics – Savannah (0155)
Ad – Bijou – Hollywood Revue Motion Picture Bathing Beauties (1403)
Ad – Dacatur’s Favorite – The Bijou – Donna Darling and Sammy Clare Revue – “A Modern Vaudeville Frolic” (1428) (Might be June 24, 25, 26)
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.
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.”
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.
Miss 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.
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)
Decatur’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.
Event found – Need to document – See below.
DCC Bijou Image 5 (1504)
This 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.
Murray Earle – George White Scandals – Eccentric Dancing Life Guards
Rose Lasgo – Christie Comedies Acrobatic Dancer
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.
Future Article: Donna at the Bijou in New Haven, CT, Nov/Dec 1920 – California Bathing Girls.
Research later. Donna at Bijou in Savannah, GA, between Sep 1925 and June 1927 – Donia [sic] Darling & Company – Modern Vaudeville Frolics
.No further Action. (See 5 below)
Future Article: Donna at Bijou in Decatur, IL on July 25, 1925- Donna Darling and Sammy Clare [sic] Revue “A Modern Vaudeville Frolic”
Future Article – Donna at the Bijou in Decatur, IL on January 25, 1925 – California Bathing Beauties – Donna Darling.