My grandmother was a vaudeville star and I am following her career, trying to learn of her many performances. In October 1919, she joined the cast of the Charles Dillingham production of “Chin-Chin” “Chin-Chin” played in the US and Canada until June 1920. I monitor several newspaper services watching for new venues that the show played while she was a cast member.
I recently received a notification from the folks at Elephind that they had added the “Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection to their searchable items. As such, I ran a quick search and had two new findings. The first entry is from the Denver Jewish News dated 5 November 1919. It was an ad for Chin Chin playing at the Broadway Theatre in Denver, a venue I had learned about previously.
The second article found was from the Walsenburg World dated 20 November 1919, Page 5, Column 3, Para 12, which read:
“Mr. and Mrs. George Blickhahn, Mr. and Mrs. James Flynn, Mrs. B. Gardner, Aldolph Unfug, Miss Clara Kincaid of La Veta, and Lois Sporleder all spent Sunday in Trinidad seeing ‘Chin Chin.’”
The previous Sunday would have been November 16, 1919. Trinidad is a small town about 40 miles southeast of Walsenburg and about 11 miles north of the New Mexico border.
It appears that the show may have been at West’s Theatre, however, I’ll need to confirm that with additional research. The show played in Denver from the 9th to the 15th, went south to Trinidad for the 16th then returned back north to Pueblo on the 18th and Colorado Springs on the 19th.
New Venue Added:
Nov 16, 1919 – Trinidad, Colorado – (Probably) West’s Theatre.
Donna Darling Revue
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor
For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Collection that includes both a clipping and a photo.
Palm Theater – Pueblo, Colorado
The venue is the Palm Theater – Pueblo’s Leading Theater – Always a Big Show. The show is “Today and Monday – 2 Big Days. And is part of the Western Association of Keithp-Albee Orpheum Circuit.
The show is a “Double Headliner Bill with the First Feature Ace — “Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark”
The Second Feature Act is “Orpheus Quintet in “Big Moments from Big Operas”
Also on bill:
Zuhn & Dreis – Dementus Americanos – A Feature Comedy Act Made For Laughing Purposes.
Curtis & Lawrence – Up to the Minute and a Minute Ahead in “Is That the Custom.”
Morrell & Elynor – Beauty-Grace-Speed 0 Introducing the Charleston on Rollers.
The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark began in May 1926. On September 17th and 18th, the show played at the Burns Theater in Colorado Springs and played on September 25th in El Paso, Texas. It is most likely that the show played in Pueblo on a date between the 18th and the 25th. The only Monday between those dates was Monday, September 20th, so it appears that the show played in Pueblo, CO, on September 19th and 20th.
I looked for newspapers on Newspapers.Com, Genealogy Bank, NewspaperArchive.com, and other sites via The Ancestor Hunt to prove that date; however, I was unable to find any papers for Pueblo in 1926 available online. However, I did discover that the Donna Darling Revue played at the Grand Theater in Douglas, Arizona on September 27th.
Photo of Sammy
On the same page in the Donna Darling Collection as the Palm Theater clipping is a photo of an unknown woman and Sammy Clark. It must be from sometime between 1926 and 1928, with 1926 as the most likely. It is nice to have another photo of Sammy. I’ll keep an eye out for any other photos showing this unidentified woman.
September 19 & 20, 1926 – The Palm Theater, Pueblo, Colorado – “The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark.”
September 27, 1926 – The Grand Theater, Douglas, Arizona – “The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark.”
A day I learn of two more dates and venues for Donna’s Vaudeville Career is a good day.
For Treasure Chest Thursday, I looked at three clippings from the Donna Darling Collection which mention The Burns Theater. I love it when there are handwritten notes with photos and Donna’s notes made analyzing these clippings quite easy. One clipping mentions “Colorado Springs” and the other says Barnes Theatre – Colo. Springs Sept 17-18.
I have cropped, edited, and sized these images for the web.
The venue is the Barnes Theatre, Colorado Springs, Co. The theatre was part of the Western Vaudeville Managers’ Association.
The show is the “Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark”
Seven other acts were on the bill and also had three shows daily.
Billy Curtis and Lou Lawrence in “Is That The Custom?”
Bozo Fox & Company – Vaudeville’s Latest Surprise
Morrell and Blynor – Beauty, Grace, Speed
Nick Pallizi – The Wizard of the Accordeon [sic]
O’Brien Sisters and Mack – Bits of Musical Comedy Hits
Princess Winona – Indian Prima Donna
Zuhn and Dreis – Dementus Americanos Habitat North America
From other research, I know that the “Donna Darling Review [sic] with Sammy Clark” was a 1926 show. On September 7th, 1926, the show played in Alton, IL and on October 9, 1926, the show played in Santa Ana, California so its playing in Colorado Springs on September 17 and 18 makes sense.
Sept 17, 18, 1926 – Colorado Springs, CO – Burns Theatre – Donna Darling Review
Donna in Fort Collins, CO at the Empress Theatre – November 20, 1919
Once again, I would like to thank the wonderful folks at the History Colorado Center. They were able to do a lookup for me that proves that the “Chin Chin” show was in Fort Collins on November 20th, 1919. So, I was able to backfill another date for Donna and the “Chin Chin” show during November 1919.
It appears that the hype for the show began on 16 November with an announcement in the Fort Collins Express, which said:
TO THE GENERAL PUBLICFOR THE FIRST TIME IN TEN OR MORE YEARS CHARLES DILLINGHAM OF THE NEW YORK HIPPODROME GLOBE THEATRE PRODUCER OF “JACK O’ LANTERN” WITH FRED STONE “THE CANARY”with JULIA SANDERSON and JOE CAWTHORN “HIP HIP HOORAY” “EVERYTHING” ETC., ETC., ETC. FAVORS OUR CITY AGAIN WITH ONE OF HIS RICH AND GIGANTIC PRODUCTiONS.
IT IS THEREFORE WITH A GREAT DEAL OF PLEASURE AND IN FACT PRIDE THAT I ANNOUNCE THE COMING OF HIS GREATEST MUSICAL COMEDY SUCESS
with WALTER WILLS and ROY BINDER IN THE LEAD A COMPANY OF 65 FORTY GIRLS 35 MEN BACK OF SCENESAND THE FAMOUS CLOWN SAXOPHONE BAND
“Chin Chin” ad – Fort Collins Express – 20 Nov 1919
M. C. GERHART
One Night Only
Thursday November …. 20TH
That announcement was followed with typical “Chin Chin” display ads on the 19th and the 20th. They were unable to find anything else about the show, but I did find Herbert Lloyd’s Vaudeville Guide (1919 edition), which much information regarding the venue.
The Empress Theatre
Empress Theater – late 1920s
Courtesy: Fort Collins History Connection
The theatre was built in 1907 as the Orpheum Theater and was located at 161 North College, Fort Collins, Colorado. It changed name to the Empress Theater during an ownership change in 1914.The new owners, G. W. Thompson and H. F. Beier, intended the theater to play only the best road shows. Because women and children formed a large part of the patronage the theater provided for baby carriages and offered no offensive shows.
The theater’s seating capacity was 799; it had a small proscenium, only 27 feet wide, which framed a 28 foot deep stage.
10 years before Donna played, performers looked
out at the, then Orpheum, audience.
It is unclear when the theater began silent movies, probably before “Chin Chin” played there. In 1920, it showed a locally filmed movie, “The Girl From Fort Collins.” In 1929 it entered the era of talkies and ran “the Jazz Singer.”
The building appears to have been completely renovated. For many years it was a barbecue restaurant known as Nordy’s BBQ. Today it is Hodi’s Half Note.
Sources: Fort Collins Express – November 16, 1919. Page 8, via History Colorado Center. Fort Collins Express – November 18, 1919. Page 8, via History Colorado Center. Fort Collins Express – November 20, 1919. Page 8, via History Colorado Center.
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
‘CHIN CHIN’ OF PRESENT
RECALLS PAST GLORIES
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.