Donna Darling Collection – Part 23

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.It is always great when I can add a new venue to Donna’s show list and today’s collection item did just that. It was another Capitol Theater clipping, but this time from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Kitchener is about 110km (70 miles) west of Toronto. Luckily, Donna wrote the dates of her playing there next to the clippings – June 21, 22, 23. The silent movie “Beverly of Graustark” is playing at the same time which dates the show in 1926.

Newspaper Clipping of Capital Theater from 1926 showing Darling & Clark playing

AT THE CAPITOL

Marion Davies….

The Revue Different as presented by The Darling and Clark Metropolitan Revue is one of the most pleasing acts seen in Kitchener in some time. Miss Darling puts over her songs in a wonderful manner and her costumes are gorgeous. Mr. Clark is a comedian of no mean ability, and the dancing artists and the whistling soloist were the recipients of rounds of applause last evening. All in all it can trustfully be called a “bang up” show.

I have cropped, edited, and sized the photo for the web.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Capitol Theater. One of the articles confirms it is Kitchener.
  • The show is the “Darling and Clark – Metropolitan Revue” staring [Donna] Darling and [Sammy] Clark.
  • Also on bill
    • Movie: “Beverly of Graustark” starring Marion Davies & Antonio Moreno also played.

Analysis

According to IMDB, “Beverly of Graustark” was released in April 1926[i] indicating that the show occurred after that.

Conclusion

Donna & Sammy played at the Capitol Theater, Kitchener, Ontario on June 21, 22, 23, 1926.

Sources

[i] IMDB “Beverly of Graustark” 1926 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016646

Donna Darling Collection – Part 21

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.The Burns Theatre, Colorado Springs, CO

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.

Key features:

  • 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

Analysis

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.

Conclusion

Sept 17, 18, 1926 – Colorado Springs, CO – Burns Theatre – Donna Darling Review

Note:

Donna played at the Burns Theater previously during her Chin Chin performances.  See: Donna in Colorado Springs, CO, November 19, 1919, at the Burns Theatre.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 19

The Bijou Theaters

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi. 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:

  1. Ad clipping – Bijou – Mon – Tues – Wed – California Bathing Girls (0065)
  2. Ad, Article, and Photo – Bijou – Thur, Fri, Sat Donia Darling & Co. “Modern Vaudeville Frolics – Savannah (0155)
  3. Ad – Bijou – Hollywood Revue Motion Picture Bathing Beauties (1403)
  4. Ad – Dacatur’s Favorite – The Bijou – Donna Darling and Sammy Clare Revue – “A Modern Vaudeville Frolic” (1428) (Might be June 24, 25, 26)
  5. 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.

Analysis

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.”

Photo of Donna for Savannah Show.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.

Image of Article about Donna Darlings show in SavannahMiss 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.

Key features:

  • 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)

Image - Bijou - Vaudeville - Donna Darling & Sammy Clark RevueDecatur’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.

Discussion:

Event found – Need to document – See below.

 

DCC Bijou Image 5 (1504)

Ad - Bathing Beauties at BijouThis 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.
  • Betty Bryant of Ziegfeld’s “Miss America”
  • Clarice Allyn – Petite Toe Dancer
  • May Walker – Blue Singer and Beach Flirt
  • Mildred O’Brian – Sennett Bather – Palm Beach Bather
  • Murray Earle – George White Scandals – Eccentric Dancing Life Guards
  • Rose Lasgo – Christie Comedies Acrobatic Dancer

Conclusion

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.

Actions

  1. Future Article: Donna at the Bijou in New Haven, CT, Nov/Dec 1920 – California Bathing Girls.
  2. Research later. Donna at Bijou in Savannah, GA, between Sep 1925 and June 1927 – Donia [sic] Darling & Company – Modern Vaudeville Frolics
  3. .No further Action. (See 5 below)
  4. Future Article: Donna at Bijou in Decatur, IL on July 25, 1925- Donna Darling and Sammy Clare [sic] Revue “A Modern Vaudeville Frolic”
  5. Future Article – Donna at the Bijou in Decatur, IL on January 25, 1925 – California Bathing Beauties – Donna Darling.

Sources

[i] Cinema Treasurers – Theaters Search – http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/united-states?q=Bijou

 

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.

 

Donna in Bridgeport, CT, at Poli’s – June 30-July 2, 1927

Donna in Bridgeport, CT, at Poli’s – June 30-July 2, 1927.

We know Donna played in Warren, PA, in early May, but don’t know where she, Sammy, and Hal Dixon were until the played at Poli’s Theater in Bridgeport, CT from June 30 until July 2, 1927.[i] [ii]

From the advertising it is clear that the movies had taken over. Irene Rich in a Warner Bros. silent feature, “The Climbers” was top billing. Even for the opening night, the “Donna Darling Revue” was promoted after “Amateur Night” in the “Amusements” article regarding what was playing at the Poli, which read:

AMATEURS TONIGHT AT POLI’S VAUDEVILLE 

In addition to the amateur presentations tonight, Poli’s Vaudeville theater offers a splendid new program today. 

Irene Rich leads an all-star cast through the screen version of the stage success “The climbers.” Commander Byrd’s start over the Atlantic is in Pathe News and a short Mack Sennett comedy completes the photoplay bill.

Heading the vaudeville contingent is Stan Stanley and company in a bit of farce, hokum and burlesque. The captain Boys present their six beautiful fashionettes in an elaborate dance act. Modern Vaudeville Frolics includes Donna Darling, Sammy Clark and Hal Dixon; Watts and Reingold in “Their Own Way,” and William Moore as “The Chef” contribute entertainment of high caliber.[iii] 
I’m still searching for other Donna Darling showings during 1927. This may have been her last show in 1927 as her son, Russell, was born less than two months later. I do know she played in Mount Carmel, PA in April 1928.

Poli’s Theater
Cinema Treasures photo of
the Palace Theater shows the
glory the theater once had.[vi]
Poli’s was, in some ways, kind of an early multiplex. Built in 1922 by Sylvester Z Poli, the Palace and Majestic Theaters were separate theaters within the same building complex separated by the Savoy Hotel. The Poli Palace was the larger of the two theaters and was the largest theater in Connecticut until 1975[iv]. According to Historic Buildings of Connecticut, Mae West also played the Poli Palace in 1927.[v] The Majestic Theater closed in 1971 and the Palace Theater closed in 1975. The theater has been vacant for 40 years and the city is hoping to redevelop the property.

Google Maps view of the Palace/Majestic Theater
Endnotes


[i] Bridgeport Telegram, 29 Jun 1927, Pg 10 – via Newspapers.com
[ii] Bridgeport Telegram, 2 Jul 1927 – Bridgeport (CT) Telegram – Via Newspaper Arvhives.com.
[iii] Bridgeport Telegram, 30 Jun 1927, Donna Darling Revue at Poli’s via Newspaperarchive.com
[iv] Web: Historic Buildings of Connecticutt: http://historicbuildingsct.com/?p=19817
[v] Web: Historic Buildings of Connecticutt: http://historicbuildingsct.com/?p=19817 
———- DISCLAIMER ———-