Donna at Rock Springs, Wyoming on November 23, 1919 at the Grand Theater

Donna at Rock Springs, Wyoming on November 23, 1919 at the Grand Theater.

Rock Springs Miner
21 November 1919
Thanks to the
Wyoming Newspaper Project
I almost missed that Chin Chin played at the Grand Theater in Rock Springs Wyoming. But thanks to the Wyoming Newspaper Project’s indexing of the Rock Springs Miner, I was able to learn about that venue. 
The Rock Springs Miner apparently was a weekly paper, so information about the show was limited to only two editions. The newspaper on November 14th, included an ad for the show, a brief article about the shows coming, and another photo of “The Four French Dancing Dolls.”  The quality of this photo’s image is much better than the one which was in the Colorado Springs Gazette. Uncle Russell, Donna’s son, and I are fairly sure that the woman on the left is Donna. 
It appears that Donna is on the left.
Rock Springs Miner – 14 November 1919
Thanks to the Wyoming Newspaper Project
The newspaper on November 21st also included the photo of “The Four French Dancing Dolls” along with an ad and a short write up article.  The article also mentions, “There is no leading lady in this organization.  Although a number of beautiful women, principals and otherwise, who is to enjoy the place of honor as first favorite is left to the choice of the public.”
The article goes on to say that, “It is estimated that 250,000 people from all points more than one hundred miles from New York have already seen ‘Chin Chin” while it was presented at the Globe Theatre in New York, and now Mr. Dillingham is actually bringing this his only company in its entirety to the Grand Thearte [sic].”

The Grand Theater

The Grand Theater Today
Larger View

When I first saw the Google Maps photo of the Grand Theater today I was astounded.  I couldn’t imagine what the company thought when they came to the Grand Theater.  It appeared small, very small.  By a quick Google Map view of the theater it appeared to be about 60 feet by 80 feet.  It was difficult to imagine that such a small theater could host a cast of over 60 people and still have room for customers.

Then I contacted the good folks at the Rock Springs Historical Society on Facebook and asked them about the Grand Theater. They were kind enough to send a photo they had.  Their photo clearly showed additional space in the rear, which probably housed the stage, changing rooms, etc.

What a relief. Back in the day, it held over 300 people. The photo also show a roof element that indicates the building was built in 1914 as a Labor Temple.

The Grand Theater, Rock Springs, WY
Courtesy of Rock Springs Historical Museum

Today it hosts an “Adult store” and some vacant frontages.

Rock Springs Miner (Rock Springs, WY) Nov 14, 1919, Pages 3, 5, & 6 via the Wyoming Newspaper Project 
Rock Springs Miner (Rock Springs, WY) Nov 21, 1919, Pages 2, 3, 5, & 6 via the Wyoming Newspaper Project Wyoming Theater Tour Rock Springs and the Grand Theater 
Google Maps 463 North Front Street, Rock Springs, WY, 82901

Rock Springs Historical Museum via Facebook

McAllister Murder – January 29, 1925 – Bell’s Preliminary Hearing Tomorrow

Savannah Press
27 January 1925




An unidentified negro boy with wounds in, his head similar to those that killed Edward L. Mc Allister, was found on the canal bank this morning within a stone’s throw of the McAllister home.
Found at Canal.
The boy, who is about twelve years old, was discovered at the canal near Cedar street and Seiler avenue by J. D. Stafford, of 1312 Seiler avenue.  He reported his discovery to the police. The negro had evidently been thrown in the canal by his assailant as dead. When discovered, his hands were clenched so tightly together as to be almost white. He was carried to the Georgia Infirmary. 
Savannah Press
27 January 1925
The negro was found just within the city limits and city police will investigate. Lieut. Hallford of the police, reports that the negro who up to this time is not identified beyond the name “Joe,” was chopped in the head with a hatchet.
County policemen who saw the wounds in the boy’s, head believe he was struck with a blunt instrument, not a hatchet. This view is said to be held by the physician who operated on the youth.
One Arrested.
The victim of the assault mumbled the name of someone supposed to have been his assailant. The city police have one suspect in custody. He is a negro. They, are looking for another negro.
The theory of the police is that the negro was thrown into the canal and that he crawled out on the bank, where he was found and the case reported. 
McAllister’s Death,
McAllister was discovered dead In, his house a fortnight ago, terrible hatchet wounds having been inflicted in his head. William R. Bell was arrested and charged with the murder. He is now In jail awaiting a preliminary hearing. This will be held tomorrow morning.
The spot where the negro was found is within a very short distance of the McAllister home.

Savannah Press (Savannah, GA) January 27, 1925 – Page 14 – microfilm via University of Georgia Libraries.

Donna in Cheyenne, WY, November 22, 1919 at the Princess Theater

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Donna in Cheyenne, WY, November 22, 1919 at the Princess Theater

Chin Chin ad, 19 Nov 1919
Wyoming State Tribune
We don’t know where Donna and the “Chin Chin” company were on November 20th or the 21st.  It is likely there were somewhere, but wherever it was the local newspaper doesn’t appear to currently have an on-line archive available.  It is likely they were in Colorado or Wyoming those dates. 
The pre-show buzz began as it typically did about a week before the show.  On November 15th, the Wyoming State Tribune reported that, “‘Chin Chin’ Is Coming.” Manager M. H. Todd of the Princess theater announced the coming of “Charles Dillingham’s greatest musical comedy success ‘Chin Chin’ on November 22nd.”  The hype kept going with an article on November 17th regarding “Catchy Music In ‘Chin Chin.’”
The first Princess Theater ad regarding the show ran on November 19th. 
Wyoming State Tribune – 19 Nov 1919
Besides the typical ad, there was a photo of many of the “Pekin Girls” that were in the show.
Looking carefully at this photo, neither Uncle Russ nor I believe Donna is in it. Also, on the 19th, the Wyoming State Tribune ran a short article about the show that indicated, among other things that the show was “a bevy of feminine beauty with pretty dresses, swift and grotesque dancing, a feast of music….”  In this case, I believe that “grotesque dancing” means “comically distorted dancing.”  
The newspaper on November 20th ran an article, “Choose Your Own Star” wherein they indicate, “There is no leading lady in this organization, although a number of beautiful women, principals, and otherwise song birds and actresses are in the cast. “It appears that show who is to enjoy the place of honor as first favorite is left tot he choice of the public.”
That is an interesting statement because it clearly comes from the press releases before the show.  Sometime later, Donna’s press will say she was the star of “Chin Chin” which didn’t have a leading lady.  I guess her place of honor in the company is our choice. 
The day of the show, not only did The Princess advertise “Chin-Chin” tonight but Night-Cambell;s advertised that people could “Hear Tom Brown’s Famous Clown Band.” The Bucscher Saxophones used by the Clown Band were available at Knight-Cambell’s music.  Also on the 22nd, there was the typical short article about the “Meaning of ‘Chin Chin.’”
The review of the show, which ran in the Wyoming State Tribune on Monday, November 24, 1919 was less than stellar.

First-Class Show; Second Class Cast 

This Was Verdict of Big Crowd at Princess Theater Saturday Night — Many Possibilities, But That’s All


“A first-class show,” said Little Mary Sunshine, after it was all over with at the Princess Saturday night. 
“A first-class show, put on by a second-class company. corrected Old Man Grouch, sitting at her elbow.

And, if a vote had been taken, probably three-fourths of the capacity house would  have agreed with the old Man. 
It was easy to see that “Chin Chin had possibilities. It was easy to see why, when it came out in New York a number of years ago; Montgomery and Stone were able to keep it going night after night for something like two seasons.  But it was also easy to see why, with Dave Montgomery dead, with Fred Stone in other productions, and with to the music now out of the so-called popular class, this show had lost a goodly share or whatever drawing power It may once have had.

A Few Pleasing Features.
The clown saxophone band was excellent. So were the performances of “Paderewski” at the piano, the fake ventriloquist, and the horse and bareback rider in the circus. The soprano got away in good shape when she sang something about violets, and again when she asked the tenor to fly with her to loveland. The costumes were  quite a novelty.

But outside at that there isn’t much to be said. The scenery was rather shopworn, the chorus girls were drowned out by the orchestra at least half of the time, and, with the exception of the two comedians, who did their best to make up for the absence of ‘their illustrious predecessors, the cast was pretty much along the amateur style.

Good in its Day.

As one young lady remarked; “This reminds me of the plays we used to put on at the convent.”

The only song we can recall today was “Goodbye, Boys, I’m Through.”  It was good in its day, but that day has long since passed.

There may have been a plot but if there was we don’t seem to in able to remember the details.

Perhaps the weakest fink in the chain was the big young tenor. He broke down twice. We excused him afterward, however, when we found that he had joined the troupe only last week in Denver—and then of course who knows but what be really did have a bad cold? 

This Man Liked It

It also developed afterwards that this was the same young man who sang “Micky” when the movie by that name appeared at the Princess some time ago. And, it seem here was one man at least who knew how to appreciate the show.

“If the people of Cheyenne don’t like it,” he said Saturday morning, it may be because it goes over their heads—too high class for ‘em. That’s why it didn’t get by very well in Denver.

Maybe so, maybe so. 


The Princess Theater

Courtesy of the Wyoming State Archives,
Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources
I can’t find out much about the Princess Theater in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  I can’t find any information about when it was built.  Certainly it was open in 1918 when it hosted WWI films. The Wyoming State Tribune mentions the Princess Theater being “prosperous” on Page 2 of the March 14, 1918 newspaper. So the theater clearly predates that date. [Anyone who can find information about the theater, please feel free to comment below.]
It appears that the building was sold in 1940.  After the death of the owner in 1948, his widow had the building renovated in 1950. It was reopened as the WYO Theater. The WYO theater was closed in 1969. 
Today, a parking ramp exists at that location. 

View Google Map

Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne, WY) Nov 15, 1919, Page 5 via Genealogy Bank
Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne, WY) Nov 17, 1919, Page 5 via Genealogy Bank
Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne, WY) Nov 19, 1919, Page 5 via Genealogy Bank
Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne, WY) Nov 20, 1919, Page 5 via Genealogy Bank
Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne, WY) Nov 22, 1919, Page 5 via Genealogy Bank
Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne, WY) Nov 24, 1919, Page 1 via Genealogy Bank
Wyoming State Archives – Photographs – Princess Theater
Cinema Treasures, Wyo Theater, 1612 Carey Ave, Cheyenne, WY, 82001

McAllister Murder – Defense Attorney says “No Case”


– – – – – – – – – – – – 


– – – – – – – – – – – – 

“I find in preparing for the preliminary hearing that the state has no case against Bell for the murder of McAllister,” Shelby Myrick, attorney, stated today.

To Defend Bell
Mr. Myrick has accepted the case and will defend William R. Bell,
who is in jail on a charge of murdering Edward L. McAllister. The dead man was discovered in his home Tuesday of last week. He
had been slain with a hatchet

Myrick says he expects the preliminary hearing will take place within a few days.

Savannah Press (Savannah, GA) January 22, 1925 – Page 14 – microfilm via University of Georgia Libraries.

Donna in Colorado Springs, CO, November 19, 1919 at the Burns Theater

Donna in Colorado Springs, CO, November 19, 1919 at the Burns Theater

It was less than two weeks after Donna joined the “Chin Chin” before her superior skill was called out in a review.
The pre-show buzz began as it typically did with stories from the Press Agents ten days before the show. Again on the 11th, the Press Agents wrote, and the Colorado Springs Gazette reported about “Charles Dillingham’s Stupendous Musical Comedy ‘Chin Chin.”

The pre-show buzz continued with an article on the 14th and again on the 15th with “What Press Agents Say.”  Also on the15th there appeared an here-to-unseen photograph of “‘The Four French Dancing Dolls’ in Charles Dilingham’s stupendous production of “Chin Chin, coming to Burns Theater next Wednesday evening.”  The woman on the far left looks surprisingly like Donna. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any further sources for the image and can’t confirm that it is Donna.

Again, on the 18th, “What Press Agents Say” ran a rehash of “The Evolution of ‘Chin Chin,” which has run in other papers. Also, in the newspaper of the 18th, there was a small advertisement by the Burns Theater indicating “Chin Chin” was coming, Wednesday, November 19th.  They ran a similar ad on the 19th indicating the show was tonight.

In a very unusual action, the Colorado Springs Gazette published a review of the show in the next day’s paper.  It is somewhat unusual for a review to run subsequent a one-show production.  The review said
Spectacular and Tuneful Musical
Comedy Retains Much of Charm
Which Made It Success

The “Chin Chin” of the past and this “Chin Chin’* of the present are two separate and distinct attractions, only distantly related, in fact; yet this current production was gulped down by a hungry audience at the Bums last evening as eagerly as if it had been the original. “Which only goes to show what limited theatrical opportunities will do to a people who are commonly supposed to he somewhat critical.

From this it is not to be judged that today’s “Chin Chin” is impossible. It is simply that it suffers by comparison. Were it not that its reputation had preceded it probably it [sic] would have been received without more than a word or two of dissent. For it did offer an evening’s entertainment.
Generally, the production is spectacular; somewhat the worse for the handling and a bit faded, but still possessing a glitter that made for friendliness. Numbers produce a sense or activity and a couple of comedians of slapstick tendencies kept things going where musical numbers fall. There is no music worth mentioning. Melodies of years gone by, “Goodbye, Girls, I’m Thru,” “Temple Bells,” “Love Moon,” et cetera, are on the program, but they simply account for so many minutes of playing time, there being no one in the company with a voice, sufficient even to get these over. Yes, there Is music; too; the clown band, a saxophone quintet which aroused, and legitimately, the only real enthusiasm of the evening.

Walter Wills and Roy Binder appear in the varied roles In which Montgomery and Stone once carried the play along with the greatest joy, and not without some degree of success. Particularly did Mr. Wills appear to good advantages in his ragtime Paderewski and in his mad dance with Miss Irene McKay. For the most part the comedy is of a low type which is not so noticeable when everyone is putting the full amount of life into h!s work, but which becomes woefully apparent otherwise. Miss Donna Montran. a stunning type, is the only other one likely to he remembered after the curtain. [Emphasis min

 Wow, how exciting, Donna “A stunning type” and likely to be remembered.

The Burns Theater

The Burns Theater was built in 1912 for $300,000 on Pikes Peak Avenue near Tejon Street. In 1928 it was turned into a movie house and renamed the Paramount Theater.  Several years later it was renamed the Chief Theater.  The theater was demolished in 1973 and is now the site for a drive-through for US Bank.




Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 9, 1919, Page 33 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 11, 1919, Page 10 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 14 1919, Page 7 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 15, 1919, Page 12 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 18, 1919, Page 6 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 19, 1919, Pages 2 & 12 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 20, 1919, Page 2 via Genealogy Bank
Cinema Treasures, Chief Theater, 21 E. Pikes Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Opera in Old Colorado, Opera Houses, Pueblo, Grand Opera House.