Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor
Donna Darling and Hollywood Motion Picture Bathing Beauties at the Apollo, 1 Feb 1925 in Peoria, IL
For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at clippings from the Donna Darling Collection relating to her playing at the Apollo Theatre in Peoria, IL, in 1925.
Donna’s clippings from her time in Peoria are some of the most interesting clippings that I have. First, there is a list of her Bathing Beauties cast, a never seen before photo of Donna, and a good description of the show and what various individuals are doing. Second, there is something of a mystery for me to solve regarding the date she played in Peoria and the Apollo. Third, there is additional press about Donna and her troupe of beauties supporting the local American Legion. Finally, there is a mystery of the kidnapping of one of her cast members.
The Apollo advertisement provides the names of her entire cast and a claim to fame. They were:
- Donna Darling – Mack Sennett’s Prize Winner
- Betty Bryant – Miss America from Ziegfeld’s
- Mildred O’Brian – From Sennett’s
- Clarice Allyn – Christie Comedies
- Alyce Louyse – Christie Comedies
- Rose Lasgo – Acrobatic Dancing
- Florence Rielliso – Spectacular Dancing
- [Murray] Earle – Christie Comedies
- [Al] Ross – Christie Comedies
- Helen Dawn – Hollywood Society Girl
There is also an amazing clipping of Donna, leaning back showing a leg.
Hollywood Revue of
Bathing Beauties Is
Special at Apollo
Bathing beauties from various motion picture studios of California will appear in a special Hollywood revue at the Apollo theater for one week beginning Sunday, February 1. Miss Donna Darling, who features in this revue, is the well-known star from Sennett’s. She is the originator of the principal part of “Chin Chin,” the famous musical play. She has won beauty prizes in Boston, New. York and San Francisco. Her dancing is excellent and her lyrical songs are surpassed only by her clever and pleasing personality. She presents the bathing girls of 1860 and follows them to the present day when Betty Bryant in a crimson bathing suit represents “Miss America of Today.”
Bathers from various famous beaches appear in charming costumes. Clever Clarice Celynn [sic – s/b Allyn] represents the Chinese toe dancer. Allyce Louyse, the Hawaiian bather, and Mildred O’Brien from Christie, dance to snappy music preceding a spectacular balloo [sic] dance in the “Bathers from Mars.”
When Miss Darling left the coast she was followed by two life guards: Murray Earle, formerly a specialty dancer of “George White Scandals,” and Al Ross, late of Christie. These life guards are eccentric dancers who add comedy to the revue.
Special scenic and lighting effects elaborate this unusual attraction. The costumes are elaborate from the opening of the revue to its end, at which time Miss Darling appears in a rhinestone bathing suit.
“Fifth Avenue Models,” a picture completes the program.
Second, I was a bit confused about the date of the show. Several clippings indicate the show began on February 1st, however, the movie that was playing with her show is identified in IMDb and Wikipedia has having been released on April 25, 1925, nearly three months after Donna’s playing.[i], [ii] It is unusual for a silent film to have been playing in a theater nine months after its release, so I was confused. I found that the British Film Institute indicates the film was released in 1924. Finally, the December 3, 1924 issue of Los Angeles Times has a preview of the film released by Universal.[iii] I have also found it playing at several other theaters long before April 25th; so, I’m convinced that both IMDb and Wikipedia are incorrect in their release dates.
Beauties help American Legion
Third, there are two clippings relating to the ‘Bathing Beauties” helping the American Legion.
I just love photos and a photo of the girls from the revue in their bathing suits is fantastic.
“The above is a picture of Donna Darling, Mack Sennett’s prize winner, and eight other Hollywood bathing beauties who will auction tickets to “Buddies,” the American Legion comedy success, next Tuesday, beginning at 12 o’clock noon, in front of The Journal-Transcript building. “Buddies” will be staged by the Gifford Players at the Hippodrome theater all this week. The legion’s proceeds from all advance sale tickets will go toward a home for ex-service men. Donna Darling and her troupe of vamps are appearing at the Apollo theater this week in a song and dance revue.
Although it mentions Donna and eight others, sadly, there is only Donna and six others in the image.
There is also a simple, follow-up article which states:
Sell 224 Tickets
For Legion’s Show
Pedestrians who passed by The Journal office today noon failed to resist the beauty and smiles of the “Bathing Beauties” who are now playing at a Peoria theater, and who proved themselves good saleswomen. During their brief selling campaign today, they sold 224 tickets for “Buddies,” the show now playing at the Hippodrome theater for the benefit of Peoria Post No. 2, American Legion. The position left vacant by Helen Dawn, who is missing from the cast, is being taken by Mildred O’Brien. No trace of the Dawn girl has been found, according to members of the troupe.
The last sentence of the above article brings me to the kidnapping of Helen Dawn. I’ll post about that next week in Part 16 of the Donna Darling Collection.
[iii] The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) · Wed, Dec 3, 1924 · Page 58 (Pre-view section page 11) – Accessed via Newspapers.com.