This week, I learned of two new venues, specific dates for a previously known show, and one venue confirmed by another newspaper. I made these new discoveries using Genealogy Bank. A Search for Donna Montran found four new articles. One article confirmed a venue I wrote about before—Pacy’s Garden Theatre on September 14-17, 1920. The Baltimore American dated Sep 14, 1920, on page 5 said:
Bathing Girls at Garden.
Nine bathing girls, grouped as “The California Bathing Girls” and headed by Donna Montran are presenting “A Beach Promenade,” a musical comedy, at the Garden Theatre this week. The offering differs from the usual bathing-girl act in that it is not a series of tableaux, but is an ambitious musical comedy offering with six beach scenes and a number of tuneful melodies.
The Bijou – New Haven, Connecticut – 19-22 December 1920.
The Connecticut Labor Press (New Haven, CT) for Dec 18, 1920, said that:
George Walsh in “The Plunger,” and “The Dragon’s Net” will remain for the first half of the week in conjunction with a remarkable bill of all-star vaudeville headed by Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties.
From the Donna Darling Collection, (DDC-8) I had known that Donna played at the Bijou in New Haven sometime in November or December of 1920. An ad on this page showed it was Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (19-22 December).
State Theatre – Trenton, New Jersey – 3-5 March 1921
The latter part of Donna’s 1920-1921 Bathing Beauty Show has always been a mystery. I knew she played the Keeney Theatre in Brooklyn at the end of January and that she closed the show in May or June for the summer, but I knew nothing of February, March, April, or May. Thanks to the Trenton Evening Times, dated March 3, 1921, on page 16 I learned that she played the State Theatre, in Trenton, New Jersey in “Tom Rooney’s and Earl Lindsay’s California Bathing Girls.”
Garden Theatre – Baltimore, Maryland – 20 March 1921
The Baltimore Sun ran an advertisement for “The California Bathing Girls with Donna Montran in “A Beach Promenade” on March 20, 1921. This was a return to the Garden Theatre for Donna with the same show six months after her earlier show. Still not sure how many days she was there, but further research should provide the answer.
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.
This week’s Treasure Chest Thursday is clipping regarding Donna and her Bathing Beauties playing at the Bijou. The accompanying clipping indicates that the article was in “THE NEW HAVEN JOU,” so it appears to be the Bijou of New Haven, Connecticut. A quick check of Cinema Treasures indicated that there was a Bijou Theater in New Haven at that time.
The next question is when did she play there. There is no date with the clipping. A search of the newspapers available online did not provide any help. However, IMDb to the rescue. They indicate the movie was released on 7 November 1920. Consequently, I would expect that this showing would have occurred sometime within two months of the release date. We also know that Donna played in Bridgeport, CT on December 29th & 30th and possibly on December 20th. With that in mind, it fits that Donna and her Bathing Beauties played the Bijou in New Haven, CT sometime in November or December, 1920.
All attendance records were broken at the Bijou theater yesterday during the initial appearance of that bib combined all star vaudeville and moving picture bill, which is headed by Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties, and George Walsh in “The Plunger.” There isn’t a dull moment on the bill and yesterday’s audiences showed their appreciation by prolonged applause throughout the entire performance.
Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties lived up to all the good things that had been said about them and presented a production that was a delight to the eye.
Also on the bill:
Katheyn Arnold and George L. Cohan.
The Carpas Bros.
New Engagement Added:
Unknown Date: [Nov-Dec] 1920 – New Haven, CT – Bijou – Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties.
Cinema Treasurers – Bijou Theater – 28 Church Street, New Haven, CT 06510