Donna Darling Collection – Part 84

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week, for Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Collection. The page includes three clippings, all relating to the Grand Theater.

The Grand

This is the first week of the Grand’s new and permanent policy of offering a program of pictures and vaudeville at popular prices and judging from the reception accorded the entertainment yesterday by the patrons it should develop Into a successful institution. The Hollywood motion picture bathing girls present the variety entertainment, while the screen’s chief feature is a Monty Banks full length comedy, “Racing Luck.”

“The Evolution of the Bathing Suit” is what the Hollywood organization, of which Donna Darling is the star, calls its revue. The schedule is opened by a magnetic little miss who calls herself the poet or the show. She introduces Miss- Darling, who sings a song about the girl of 1860, to be followed by three girls who dance in bathing costumes of that period. Betty Bryant dances as the modern girl, Alice Louise is the Bowery type, Clarice Allyn the Chinese bather, Jerry Jean the Atlantic City model, Nattie Norine the Palm Beach stroller and Tom Watson and Al Ross as the life guards.

There are few slow moments in the production, the dancing is varied and pleasing and the singing of Miss Darling, who wears some beautiful costumes, is well worth the applause it receives. There is a hula dancer who is the most interesting hula dancer we have seen in front of the footlights of a Terre Haute theater this season, and the team of Watson and Ross is excellent in its eccentric creations. The show, as a whole, is a well-balanced piece.

The Grand orchestra, under the direction of George Jacob, violinist, who has Cliff Lowe, his pianist, as his trusty right-hand man, surprises one with its skill in handling the musical score of the show.

Along with the article is an advertisement and a photo of Donna with her beautiful cloak.  Both of the clippings also mention she is at the Grand Theatre.

Key features:

    • Venue: Grand Theatre in Terre Haute.
    • Cast: Betty Bryant, Alice Louise, Clarice Allyn, Jerry Jean, Nattie Norine Tom Watson, and Al Ross.
    • Also on bill:
      • The movie: “Racing Luck” with Monty Banks.

Analysis

According to Wikipedia[i], Racing Luck with Monty Banks was released on 11 May 1924, so the show needed to be after that.

Donna began her Bathing Girl Review in the fall of 1924 and played at Indiana theatres from February through May of 1925. My uncle Russell’s research indicated that Donna played in Terre Haute, IN, on 18 April 1925. I do not know where he got this information; however, this date fits in nicely with Donna’s itinerary being in Rushville, IN, on 26 March and Vincennes, IN, on 27 April.

Cinema Treasures indicates the Grand Opera House opened in 1907 and changed its name to the Grand Theatre when movies replaced live entertainment. This clipping shows that the name had changed by 1925 when it switched to having a film and vaudeville mix.

Terre Haute Saturday Spectator, 11 April 1925, Page 10. (via Newspaper Archives)

The 11 April Saturday Spectator[ii] ran an ad for The Grand Theatre showing the “Hollywood Motion Picture Bathing Girls featuring Donna Darling” to run all week starting Sunday. That ad suggests her show ran from 12 April to the 18th. Really interesting is that the Saturday Spectator of 18 April says that, “The Donna Darling Company will continue on the bill the remainder of the week. A change in songs, dances and costumes was made Thursday.” I had no idea that the show changed during the middle of a run.

Conclusion

During the week of 12-18 April 1925, Donna’s “Evolution of the Bathing Suit” played at the Grand Theatre in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Sources

[i] Wikipedia: Racing Luck (1924 film) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racing_Luck_(1924_film).

[ii] Terre Haute Saturday Spectator, April 11, 1925, Page 10 (Via Newspaper Archives).

Donna Darling Collection – Part 40

Grand Theatre, Great Falls, Montana

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

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. 

Photo of Donna Darling with Balalaika
Donna Darling with Balalaika

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.

Key features:

  • 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
  • Also on the bill
    • Zuhn & Dreis – “Dement’s Americanos”
    • Billy Curtis & Lou Lawrence
    • Morrell and Elynore
    • Princess Winona

Sources

Donna Darling Collection – DSCM1449