Donna Darling Collection – Part 17

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.California Bathing Beauties

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at several photos from the Donna Darling Collection. First, Image 0174 is a photo of Donna Darlings Bathing Beauties in a “Beach Promenade.” In most of the advertisement billings, this show was called, “The California Bathing Beauties. The show probably began in July 1920 at Moss’ Broadway at 41st and appears to have played in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Coney Island, Baltimore, Albany, Alexandria (IN), Wilkes-Barre, Reading, New Haven (CT), and Bridgeport (CT).

I have not learned who the other five women are in the photograph, but it is clearly Donna in the top back.

Photo of the Donna Darlings Bathing Beauties in a Beach Promenade
Donna Darlings Bathing Beauties in a Beach Promenade – cropped, edited, and resized for the web. See Note Below.

Photos 0194

Next, I looked at the Donna Darling Collection Item 194 – a set of seven photographs.

Two of the photos are of Donna holding Russell – one as a baby and one as a toddler with both Donna and Russell in swimming suits. Next are two photos of Russell. In one he is sitting in a walker of some sorts and the other he is standing behind a life ring aboard the SS Virginia out of New York. In 1930 Donna, Sammy, and Russell went to Panama for work. Russell would have been about three, which looks right for this photo. A Wikipedia article[i] indicates that the SS Virginia was built in 1928, was part of the American Line whose route was New York to Havana, to the Panama Canal, then on to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Photo of Russell Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran c. 1927
Russell Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran c. 1927

Photo of Russell Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran - c. 1930
Russell Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran – c. 1930.

Photo of Russell Amsterdam (Kees) in walker circa 1928
Russell Amsterdam (Kees) in walker c. 1928

Photo of Russell Amsterdam (Kees) (aboard S S Virginia) circa 1930
Russell Amsterdam (Kees) (aboard S S Virginia) c. 1930
Photo of Sammy Clark Amsterdam (with car) - 1927
Sammy Clark Amsterdam (with car) – 1927

Next is a photo of Sammy Clark Amsterdam standing alongside a car. I don’t know cars well enough to identify what it is. [If anyone that can identify it I’d love to hear from you. – Please, use the comment form below.] The license plate indicates it was in Michigan in 1927.

The final photo is something of a mystery. This is clearly Donna holding a baby, but the baby doesn’t appear to be Russell. I believe the baby is Sylvia and I believe the man is Harvey Knight, Donna’s stepfather. If so, this would be from 1932. [Photo below.]

Conclusion

December (XX) 1924 – The Bathing Beauty Review featuring Donna Darling and Murry Earle played at the Al Ringling Theatre in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Photo of Harvey Knight, baby Sylvia Amsterdam & Donna Montran on right - circa 1932.
Probably, Harvey Knight, the baby appears to be Sylvia Amsterdam (Kees) & Donna Montran is on right – circa 1932.

Sources

[i] Wikipedia Article: SS Brazil (1928) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Brazil_(1928)

Note:

I have a higher quality image of Donna Darlings Bathing Beauties available for family members and vaudeville buffs. Please contact me via eMail or the contact form below for a copy. Cite “Image 0174.”


Donna Darling Collection – Part 12

Family Photos #1 – Russell, Donna, & Sammy

Treasure Chest Thursday

by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week I took a look at ten photos from the Donna Darling Collection. Unfortunately, three of the photos were blurry or otherwise unusable. Of the remaining seven photos, five included uncle Russ as a child. One showed Russell and Donna and one showed Russ with Sammy.  One photo showed all three. There were also two additional photos of Donna but both were family type photos and not part of her vaudeville life.

Some of the photos were badly damaged but I was able to clean them up significantly. For each of the photos, I have:

  • Original scanned image.
  • Original cropped image.
  • Edited PSD (Adobe Photoshop Elements) image
  • Edited JPG image

With each edited version of the photo, I added a caption.  I am certain about the individuals shown, however, the dates are by guess and by golly.

Names:

Sammy, Russell, & Donna at the Beach, circa 1928.
Sammy, Russell, & Donna at the Beach, circa 1928.

Donna was born Madonna Montran. She used Donna Montran in her early vaudeville days. She then used Donna Darling as her stage name. I don’t believe that she ever used the surname Amsterdam.  Sometime after 1935, Donna lived with a man named Russell Kees. Although I don’t believe that Donna and Russell were ever married, Donna and her two children, Russell and Sylvia began using the Kees surname.  Sammy was born Samson Amsterdam. He used the stage name of Sammy Clark for many years. If the names aren’t confusing to you, you are good.

I have uploaded the seven photos to Google Photos. The downloads from Google Photos are generally of sufficient quality to work for most situations.  However, if you need a higher quality image of any of the photos let me know and I’ll send you one.