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

 

McAllister Murder – Murder Suspect and Wife – Jan 20th

Murder Suspect, and Wife, Who Prepares to Fight His Cause

Darling-McAllister

Wm. R. Bell & Mrs. Lillian Bell- Savannah Press – 20 Jan 1925  – Page 16

Mr. Bell is held incommunicado in Chatham jail on a charge of slaying Edward L. McAllister, who was found dead a week ago. His wife stoutly maintains his innocence and is preparing to go to work to earn money that he may be given every advantage in his defense. Mr. Bell was in the army during the war. He served for a time at Camp Wheeler, Macon.

BELL’S WIFE TRACES HIS MOVEMENTS ON NIGHT OF MURDER
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
SAYS DOESN’T SEE HOW THEY SAY HER HUSBAND SLEW M’ALLISTER
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
W. R. BELL ARRESTED LATE ON YESTERDAY

Mrs. Lillian Bell, wife of William Robert Bell, who was jailed late yesterday on the charge of murdering Edward L. McAllister, does not know “how they can say Mr. Bell killed ‘Mac.'” and traces the movements of her husband on Monday night, the time the police believe Mr. McAllister was killed with a hatchet in his home on Thirty-ninth street, near Ash.

Talked Freely.

A Press representative called on Mrs. Bell this morning and, although busily engaged in cooking breakfast when the newspaper man arrived. Mrs. Bell, rather frail but very attractive little woman with bronze hair and brown eyes, talked about the case very freely.
“I don’t know how they can say Mr. Bell killed ‘Mac.’ I know they say he was late going to work that Monday night, but I can show you the bottle of medicine he got for the baby. She was well all afternoon, but about 8 o’clock she became ill and Mr. Bell said he did not intend to go to work. I told him I thought he could go to work, but he is simply foolish about Dolores and said he did not intend to leave her ill. He finally made up his mind to go down to yard on Liberty street and ask Mr. Ferguson to tell his leader, Mr. Champion, that his baby was ill and he would not be at work.”

Went to Drug Store

Continuing her story of her husband’s movements on the Monday night in question, Mrs. Bell said: “When Mr. Bell came back from the yard, he went to Norwood’s drug store to get some medicine but it was closed. He then went to the other drug store down on East Broad, but It was also closed. Mr. Bell then came back, put up his, car and went to work.”
When asked if her husband and McAllister had been on good terms lately, Mrs. Bell hesitated a little before replying, but finally said: Well, yes, I think so. I know Mr. Bell told me he and “Mac” walked out together on Saturday the latter part of December when they were paid off. Asked if they came off together the Saturday just prior to the killing, Mrs. Bell said Mr. Bell was paid off in the morning while McAllister was paid off Saturday afternoon.

Married in Macon

From the talk with Mrs. Bell, it developed that the couple were married in Macon – about seven years ago. Later they went to Florida, returning to Georgia about two years ago, she said.

A Good Man

In this connection Mrs. Bell said: “I can say this for Mr. McAllister, He was one of the best men I ever saw. He certainly was good to us. When my baby was ill at the hospital he used to go there nearly every day.”
When the interviewer was going, little Dolores, six-year-old daughter of the prisoner was playing with her big doll. She insisted on showing the reporter her “Mama Doll” as she called it. Later when her mother gave her a nickel she wanted the Press man to “go out and get her some ice cream” with it.

Make Arrest.

Efforts of the county police to solve the McAllister mystery culminated late yesterday in the arrest of
Mr. Bell, who lives at 111 East Broad Street, and who was a co-employee, [sic] working on an alternative shift, with with the late Edward L. Mc-

(Continued on Page Seven.)

BELL’S WIFE TRACES HIS MOVEMENT IN

(Continued from Page Sixteen)

Allister at the Atlantic Coast Line car repair department at Southover Junction.
After chcecking [sic] up all the evidence obtainable in  the case Chief Chapman, and Officers Umbach, Sheppard, and Henderson, went to Bell’s residence on East Broad between Broughton and State streets and arrested him on a warrant issued by Judge John E. Schwarz, recorder. Joseph McAllister, a brother of the dead man, swore out the warrant.

Questioned.

Bell was placed in the car with the group of officers and taken to county police headquarters. He was
taken into the private office of Chief Chapman where he was kept for about an hour and questioned before being locked up in the county jail. The prisoner, however, was said by the police to be in a semi-intoxicated condition and their efforts to get a coherent statement from him did not result in anything tangible.
When taken to the jail Bell was dressed in the clothes in which he was accustomed to work. He is a small man and rather thin. He has dark eyes and hair and appears to be about 30 years old. After he was locked up orders were given that no one be allowed to interview the prisoner.

Police Silent.

While the county police were not willing to divulge all the clues they claim to have in their possession
relatives to the murder, it is claimed that Bell owed the dead man considerable money, and that the relations between the two for several months past had not been agreeable. The county police also understood to have evidence that  Mr. Bell made a remark indicating that he and Mr. McAllister were not on good terms. On what the police believe the fatal night, ‘Bell is said to have reported to work on the night shift at the car repair shops an hour late.
Mr: McAllister, the police believe, was murdered on Monday night. He was found dead on Tuesday morning, his head having been mutilated with a hatchet.

Never Saw Hatchet.

When shown a picture of the hatchet with which McAllister is believed to have been killed, Mrs. Bell said she did nont [sic] remember ever having seen it at the McAllister residence. “We only live at Mr. McAllister’s house about a month, and I don’t think it was there. Mr. McAllister always split the wood in the yard with an ax,” she said.
Early this afternoon, Mrs. Bell called on Col. Shelby Myrick, who she said had been retained to represent her husband. she called at the county jail this morning to see her husband, but under orders from Chief Chapman she was not permitted to do so.
In the neighborhood it was at stated today that Mrs. Bell is a native of Virginia. She is said to he an efficient stenographer and, in case her husband is kept in jail, intends to get a position in order to support herself and her little girl. Several of the neighbors have assured her that they would take care of the child while she is at work, it was stated.

Sources:

Savannah Press (Savannah, GA) January 20, 1925 – Pages 16 & 7 – microfilm via University of Georgia Libraries.

McAllister Murder – Expect Arrest Soon – Jan 19, 1925

EXPECT ARREST IN MURDER CASE SOON

The county police continued to work on the McAllister murder case today. An arrest is expected soon.

Relatives Here.
Joseph McAllister, brother of the dead than, and H. Lane, a brother-in-law, are in Savannah from Pittsburgh. They attended Mr. McAllister’s funeral yesterday.

Mr. Mcallister said he did not that his brother had been murdered until he arrived here on Saturday afternoon. Messages sent him had simply stated his brother had been found dead In his rooms. Edward L. McAllister was found murdered with a hatchet on last Tuesday.

Heard from Him.
Mr. McAllister had been away from Pittsburgh about two and one-half years, his brother, and he had been hearing from him in Savannah since last summer. His letters indicated that everything was “lovely” in Savannah, he stated when asked if hls brother had ever indicated he had enemies here.

County Administrable Wade is looking after the estate of the late Mr. McAllister.

Interlibrary Loan and Edward McAllister

I know I mentioned it before, but I’ve got to mention it again, Interlibrary loan is one of your best friends. I wrote last January about the Georgia Virtual Vault and Edward Lamb McAllister
I still had many questions regarding Edward’s murder.  Could newspaper articles provide answers to the questions I’ve been looking for?
One of my favorite places to look for books, or anything is WorldCat. WorldCat is a huge network of library content. It will tell you the availability of all kinds of things at thousands of libraries. So, I wanted to see where I might find the newspapers I was looking.
It took some poking around WorldCat to find a Savannah newspaper from 1925 available.  World Cat showed The Savannah Press had issues from 1891 to 1931 available at two libraries.  Zooming in, I found it available at University of Georgia, only about 1-1/2 hour drive so certainly a possible road trip. (The holding at University of Rochester (NY) was a bit far for a visit.)  Looking more closely at their holdings, they appeared to have both a paper and microform versions and the microform has multiple copies. One more click and I see their status as “Not Checked Out.” I took that as code that they allow the film to be checked out and will allow interlibrary loan.  
Logging into my county library, I selected their interlibrary loan option, which opened their link to WorldCat. I found the same selection, Savannah Press, and ordered it.
Savannah Press
Jan 14, 1925, Pg 14
A few weeks later I receive a call from my county library, the microfilm has arrived.  Going through unindexed newspapers on microfilm is a brutal process. This one was like I expected.  The nice thing about having the film local is I didn’t have to review it all in one sitting.  I could take my time and review the material over several visits if I so desired. Nice. 
Anyway, the view was about 1/12 of the page, so it was necessary to make three sweeps across each page, top, middle bottom, looking for relevant articles. I read, the papers slowly looking for key words in headlines and the first paragraph of most articles. Luckily, I could skip over the Society pages, and the entertainment pages.
I found nine articles during the two weeks following his murder. Lots of detail about Edward’s life, a photo of Edward, a photo of the man arrested for the murder and a photo of that man’s wife. Could she be the woman he was “bedding,” as mentioned in the family oral history? There was even a photo of the grizzly murder weapon. 
What a treasure trove of information. Having the film available via interlibrary loan save me several hours driving time, parking hassles, (It is usually a hassle parking at a University.) and the frustration of using unfamiliar equipment. Yes, Interlibrary is one of my best friends.