September 4-9, 1922
By Don Taylor
“Donna 100 years ago” reviews my grandmother’s vaudeville life. Madonna Montran, aka “Donna Montran” & “Donna Darling,” had an exciting career during the 1920s. A definite headliner, she crisscrossed the country with her many shows.
Donna performed in the Keith Vaudeville Circuit. She had just finished a week in Louisville, Kentucky, and arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio, to play six days at the Palace Theater from the 4th to the 9th.
The Cincinnati Enquirer Friday, September 1st, 1922, issue, Page 5, in their “Cincinnati Theaters and Parks” feature, included three paragraphs about what would be showing at the Palace Theatre. The article included, “Donna Darling of musical comedy fame, assisted by Murray Walker and Jack Finney, in a Melange of song and dance, styled “As You Like It;” The Sunday paper also promoted the show with “Donna Darling in ‘As You Like It,’ a musical playlet in which the former musical comedy favorite is assisted with Murray Walker and Jack Finney.” There was also an ad on the same page that listed seven vaudeville shows and one photoplay starting Monday. The playbill included:
- Burke Morgan & DeForest Wooley
- Burke, Larry & Clifford
- Donna Darling
- Naie & Rizzo
- Harry Bussey
- Nadje & Co.
- Don Lanning
- Photoplay: “The Top of New York” with May McAvoy
Donna always wanted to be the headliner, and sure enough, the Monday paper put her as the first show in subsequent advertisements. The Tuesday paper wrote that the show was “worthy of headline honors.”
One hundred years ago, Donna played in the vaudeville act “As You Like It” at the Palace Theater in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Palace Theater opened on December 6th, 1919, as a B. F. Keith vaudeville house, across the street from the world-famous Cincinnatian Hotel. By the time Donna played there in 1922, the theatre was a mixed theater playing vaudeville and photoplays. An eight-piece orchestra, led by William Heege provided music during the silent films and as needed for the vaudeville shows. The theater converted to all movies in 1928. It was renamed the RKO Palace Theater. It was renamed TKO International 70 in 1964 and closed in 1976. It reopened as the International Music House in 1978. It closed again in 1982 when it was demolished.
Specifications for the Palace Theatre[i]
- Seating Capacity: 2,619.
- Stage Dimensions: 70’ wide x 60’ high and 35’ deep.
Today, the location includes the high-rise office, “Center at 600 Vine”[ii],[iii].
[i] The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory, Volume XX (1921), Page 74 – Palace Theatre. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924063709764&view=1up&seq=118&q1=Cincinnati%20Palace
[ii] Cinema Treasures – International Music House – http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/1048
[iii] Google – https://www.google.com/search?q=16+Sixth+Street+E%2C+Cincinnati%2C+OH+45202