Donna Darling Collection – Part 82

Two photos of the Bathing Beauties

Treasure Chest Thursday
Hollywood Bathing Beauties
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at two photographs from the Donna Darling Collection.

Stage – Donna Darling Revue – 6 women on stage – with “India My Own” sign

This first photo has six women on stage. One of the girls is holding a sign that says, “INDIA My Own.” The back of the photo says “Donna Darling Revue.”

In the 1920s, Donna had a show, California Bathing Girls. During that show she sang the song, “India, My Own,” which she wrote. So, this photo is clearly from that time. Donna always needed to be the center of attention and this photo really exemplifies that with two girls on their knees with incense bowls. Additionally, this appears to be Donna in the same hat and dress she wore during her Christmas wishes. (See: Donna Darling Collection – Part 32.) This photo is clearly from that time.

Donna Darling – “California Bathing Girls” – 8 women on stage

This second photo shows all eight of the bathing girls, including Donna, who were part of the “Beach Promenade.” Besides Donna, there were seven other women in the show; Lola St. Clair, Marie Thompson, Alice Eldridge, Bobby Tremaine, Helen Travis, Dorothy Smith, and Alie Dean[i]. Sadly, I have not been able to identify which woman is which in the photo. If you have other photos of any of these women, I’d love to see them.


Two photos of The California Bathing Girls from Donna Darling’s 1920 Vaudeville show.

Future Actions

Try to better identify the seven supporting California Bathing Beauties.


[i] See:  Donna Montran – Moss’s Broadway Theater, July-August 1920

The Pride’s Corner Union Bible Society

Treasure Chest Thursday
Welch-Harris Project

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.One of my favorite resources in researching ancestors is to check the local historical society. A simple google search using the “Site” criteria for a search. In this case, I was researching Mildred Swain in my Welch-Harris Project. I knew from the 1910 Census she was living in Westbrook and attending school. A Google search of the Westbrook Historical Society’s website site for Mildred would be:

Mildred Swain

The search returned one page, A quick <cmd-f> to find an entry of “Swain” on the page yielded a photo of “The Pride’s Corner Union Bible Society” as well as a great little article. Besides my Mildred, who would have been about 12 at the time, is another Mildred (I wonder who she is?), her sisters Ruby and Esther, and Mildred’s father, Milton. What a treasure to find. There is additional history about the Pride’s Corner Church; land for the church was purchased on Elmwood Street in 1912, and the church was dedicated in 1915, free from debt.

A colorized and enhanced version of the Pride’s Corner Union Bible Society photo, circa 1911. Photo courtesy of the Westbrook Historical Society.

On the back of the original photograph is additional information about some of the people in the photo. Included is that Mildred Swain married Lawrence Harmon (which I knew) and that Ruby Swain married Van Vliet (which I didn’t know.)

Key features:
    • Milton Swain was a founder of the Pride’s Corner Union Bible Society. His children, Ruby, Mildred, and Esther, also attended the Society.
    • Ruby Swain married Van Vliet.
    • All were living in the Pride’s Corner neighborhood of Westbrook in 1912.
    • I cropped mall headshots of the various Swain family members in the photo to use in my family tree.


I couldn’t wait to see what else might be on the Westbrook Historical Society. A search for just “Swain” on the site found a list of people buried at the Highland Lake Cemetery. It included the following entries:

    • SWAIN Emma L. Bunker w/o Milton N. Swain 1866 – 1933
    • SWAIN Milton N. 1867 – 1961
    • SWAIN Ruby L. (VanVliet) w/o Willem VanVliet 1895 – Mar 7, 1958

Continuing with more items to follow-up with:

    • A heretofore unknown woman also named Mildred Swain lived in the area and should be researched regarding her relationship. (Possibly a sister of Milton’s and/or namesake for young Mildred?)
    • Research the Pride’s Corner Church on Elmwood Street.
    • Research the Pride’s Corner school, its students, etc.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 81

Russell, Don, & Matthew Photos

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a scan (SCAN0180) of five photos from the Donna Darling Collection.

First, there is a photo of my uncle Russell Kees. In this photo, he appears to be in some sort of uniform. Additionally, his writing on the back suggests this is the first photo after leaving for the service. As such, I date this photo about 1951, when Russell would have been about 24 years old.

Next is a photo of me, probably about one year old. I had seen and remembered this photo from when I was a child.


Finally, there are three photos of my son, Matt, which I sent to Donna in 1974. I didn’t remember Matt’s picture at the beach, wearing the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) t-shirt. It had to have been San Diego, my ship’s home port.

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.


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


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 Darling Collection – Part 79

Terrace Theatre – Beautiful Bathing Girls

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

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


Miss Donna Darling, star with Beautiful Bathing Girls from the Motion Picture Studios, now playing at the Terrace theatre.

The stellar act at the Terrace theatre the first of the week is the Beautiful Bathing girls from the Moving Picture Studios, headed by Donna Darling. Fashions in bathing suits from 1860 down to the present are shown by these girls, who also give a good account of themselves in several dance numbers. Probably the largest early week night audience in many fonths [sic] witness the performance Monday night. Two other good acts and a feature picture, “So This Is Marriage,” complete the Terrace bill.

The silent film, “So This Is Marriage,” was released in 1924, confirming that this showing was from 1924 or 1924 and not any of Donna’s earlier Bathing Beauty shows.

Cinema Treasures reports there were 41 Terrace theatres in the United States. Thirty-seven of them opened after 1925. One was in Vallejo, California; Donna didn’t tour the west coast with this show. One, the Airdome, was a second listing for the Terrace in Danville, Illinois. The last one was the Terrace Theatre in Chicago. This is clearly a clipping from her show at one of the two locations, either Danville or Chicago.

Because Donna played the Empress Theatre in Chicago in October 1924, I suspect that this clipping is from her probable show in Danville in October 1924.

Key features:

  • The venue was the Terrace Theatre in (Probably Danville, Illinois) but possibly Chicago.
  • The show was the “Beautiful Bathing Girls from the Motion Picture Studios” staring Donna Darling.

Finally, a review of the newspapers of the time yielded none currently available online for Danville, Illinois.


Date Unknown (Fall 1924- Spring 1925) – Danville, IL, Hollywood Revue of Bathing Beauties.