Donna Darling Collection – Part 80

The South Broad Theatre 

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a clipping from the Donna Darling Collection.

Clipping discovered to be from the Trenton Evening Times dated January 9, 1922.

SOUTH BROAD—“KAZAN”

Delightful screen and vaudeville entertainment will be provided at the South Broad Theatre for three days beginning today when the James Oliver Curwood drama, “Kazan” and a series of new acts will be presented, together with comedy films and other events.

Of course, there is a delightful man and woman romance in this refreshing Curwood story, but its greatest power lies in the parallel drawn between human and animal life, and without a remarkable dog to interpret the role of “Kazan” the production could not have been made. But such a remarkable dog was found, and Director Bertram Bracken was enabled to accomplish the so-called “impossible.” The result is declared to be one of the finest photoplays of the North country.

The new vaudeville will be headed by Doona Montram [sic] and Her Boys in a musical comedy review, called “As You Like,” supported by Thomas Doray and Edna Sarlini in “by Heck,” the Novilions, a comedy acrobatic team, and John and Dave Mills, musical comedy duo.

Tomorrow night will be “Ye Olde Country Store” night, when 25 presents will be given away free to members of the audience.  

“Kazan,” written by James Oliver Curwood, was released in October 1921. Additionally, the two other clippings on the same page in Donna’s album related to the Stroud Theatre, Stroudsburg, PA, where she played on November 24th and 25th. See DCC-76

Donna didn’t begin using Darling until 1922, so this clipping is clearly from 1921.

Searching for “Thomas Doray” I found an article at Genealogy Bank that spoke of the delightful vaudeville card composed of Donna Montram [sic] and Her Boys in a musical comedy revue, called “As You Like.” Supported by Thomas Doray and Edna Sarlin, in “By Heck….” It was in the January 11, 1922, Trenton Evening Times.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Broad Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey.
  • The show is the “Donna Montran and Her Boys in “As You Like [It]”
  • Also, on the bill:
    • Thomas Doray and Edna Sarlini in “by Heck,”
    • Novilions, an acrobatic comedy team,
    • John and Dave Mills, a musical comedy duo.
  • The movie showing was the James Oliver Curwood story, “Kazan,” staring Jane Novak

Conclusion

I added a new venue for Donna’s vaudeville career:

  • January 9-11, 1922 – Trenton, NJ – South Broad Theatre – “Donna Montram [sic] and Her Boys in “As You Like” – DDC-80.

Donna at the State Street Theatre in Trenton, NJ

100 Years Ago – March 3rd, 1921

We know Donna played in Amsterdam, NY, in early February but have no shows for her from then until she played at the State Street Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey, from March 3rd through the 5th. The Trenton Evening Times published two brief writeups. The first one, March 3rd, under Theatres and Movies, read:

Trenton Evening Times, 3 March 1921, Page 16 (via  Genealogy Bank)

STATE—FATTY ARBUCKLE

The last half of Banner wee opens today at the State Street Theatre with a complete change of program, embracing six star vaudeville acts and the famous Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle in Brewster’s Millions.”

Manager Wahn has also booked Tom Rooney’s and Earl Lindsay’s California Bathing Girls, an attraction of high character, including the noted Donna Montran. “Fatty” Arbuckle in the role….

The California Bathing Girls is a miniature musical comedy, “A Beach Promenade,” and is replete with brilliant songs and appealing musical numbers. There is fun aplenty and a fashion show of 1921 bathing costumes, including the one-piece suits in vogue at the prominent winter resorts. Other vaudeville star acts are….

Interestingly, the article cites Tom Rooney[i] and Earl Linsay as owning the show “their California Bathing Girls.”  I’m sure Donna didn’t like that much. That might be why it was changed in the second listing. which read:

STATE—“FATTY” ARBUCKLE

Trenton Evening Times, 4 March 1921, Page 22 (via  Genealogy Bank)

The last half of Banner Week at the State Street Theatre opened yesterday with capacity crowds. The show in its entirety is a round of riotous laughter, in which the noted Rosco (“Fatty”) Arbuckle is presented in “Brewster’s Millions,” six all-star vaudeville acts and comedy films….

The California Bathing Girls proved a combination of beauty and 1921 bathing suit style show, reflecting those to be worn this season at the popular bathing resorts. The American girl, in a snappy one-piece suit, made a distinct hit. Blair & Crystal appeared….

The other shows on the bill included:

    • Martin Goodwin in “The Union Man”
    • Josephine Lenhardt, diminutive comedienne
    • Harry and Ruth Sullivan in “The Love Nest”
    • Blair Crystal comedy skit
    • Comedy Martinetti in “The Silent Fool.”

The movie playing that week was the 1921 edition of “Brewster’s Millions.” (Not to be confused with 1914, 1935, 1945, or 1985 versions of the film – Or the future “Brewster’s Billions” currently in development.)

State Street Theater, Trenton, New Jersey

The State Street Theatre (Public Domain)
The State Street Theatre (via Cinema Treasures)

The State Street Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey, opened on December 9th, 1903.[ii]

Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide for 1910-1911 reports that the seating capacity was 2,025. Interestingly the Guide for 1913-1914 indicated that vaudeville and movies played at the theatre but that the theater management ignored repeated requests for corrected details. And the guide for 1921 did not include the theatre.

The theater closed in the early 1950s.[iii]

Specifications for the State Street Theatre[iv]

Seating Capacity: 2,025

Proscenium opening: 39 ft
Footlights to back wall: 40 ft
Between side walls: 75 ft
Between fly girders: 58 ft
To rigging loft: 70 ft
To fly gallery: 25 ft
10 Dressing rooms


Endnotes

[i] Thomas Valentine Rooney was Donna’s second (known) husband. They were married on 24 November 1915.
[ii] “RKO State Theatre In Trenton, NJ – Cinema Treasures”. 2021. Cinematreasures.Org. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/11944
[iii] ibid.
[iv] The Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide for 1910-1911

Donna in the News – Two New Venues

Donna Montran
Vaudeville

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.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.



————–  Disclaimer  ————–