Donna in the News – Binghamton Theater, Binghamton, New York

“Apple Blossoms” – 16, 17, & 18 November 1922

 Vaudeville, Donna Darling & Boys
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.“Donna in the News” is my reporting of newly found newspapers articles and advertisements regarding my grandmother, Madonna Montran (aka Donna Montran and aka Donna Darling). I am always excited when I find a new venue for my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s. 

Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin – Nov 16, 1922 – via Newspapers.com.

This week I found an article from the Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, NY) newspaper dated 17 November 1922 via Newspapers.com.

The other acts on the bill the last half of the week include Donna Darling and company, with Murray Walker, assisted by Jack Finney and Nellye Du Barry, in “Apple Blossoms,” a super song reuse and dazzling dance fantasy….

Because of those newly available online articles, I was able to add another date and venue to Donna’s vaudeville career.

  • November 16, 17, 18, 1922 – Binghamton, New York – Binghamton Theater – “Apple Blossoms”

Donna Darling Collection – Part 89

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at two clippings from one page of the Donna Darling Collection. There is both an ad and a text write-up. The good news is that a handwritten note above the clippings is “Topeka Kans.”

 

Clipping from Donna Darling Collection

The ad shows three show times, 3:00—7:30—9:15, at the Novelty Theater.

The show is the “Dona [sic] Darling Revue with Sammy Clark in a riot of beauty and comedy singing and dancing.”

The clip also mentions four other acts in the program, Pathe News, and a Screen Comedy.

The text advertising write-up reads:

AT THE NOVELTY
The First Half.

An entirely different bill of vaudeville will be on at the Novelty the first three days of the week. Col Mack believes in “mixing them” and avoiding “that sameness.” This season he will not only mix the attractions on every bill but he will make every possible effort to make each bill “different.”

The feature of the first half will be the Donna Darling Revue, with Miss Darling “The Musical Comedy Beauty,” and Sammy Clark the “Juvenile Komic,” making merry both on their own and because of their absolute dissimilarity. The revue is filled with song and dance number of just the sort that are demanded by vaudeville patrons. Donna and Sammy are supported in the act by the team of Barring and Lazure with Hal Dixon featured at the piano.

The program as usual will be started by the newest movie news….

Key features:

    • The venue is the Novelty Theater in Topeka, Kansas.
    • None of the other shows on the bill are named.

Analysis

Donna and Sammy began their show together about May 1926 in New York. The show headed west to Michigan and Ontario. In July, it was in Illinois and Ohio. In August, it headed west to Illinois and Oklahoma. After a short return to Illinois, they headed west again for Colorado, Texas, and Arizona in September. After several months in the west, they returned to the Midwest (Iowa) in January 1927. I haven’t found any dates or venues for Donna and Sammy in Kansas; however, they had to have played in Kansas in August or September 1926.

Cinema Treasures indicates that the Novelty Theatre opened in Topeka, Kansas, in 1908. After Donna played there, it became the Dickinson Theatre, then closed in 1988 and was demolished in 1993.

Conclusion

New Venue:  August or September 1926 – The Novelty Theater, Topeka, Kansas – Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark.

Actions

  • I have set up alerts for “Donna Darling” and “Sammy Clark” in Kansas during 1926 at Newspapers.com and Genealogy Bank.
  • I added a task to check NewspaperArchives and Elephind (Library of Congress) every year for new postings.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 88

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

This week, for Treasure Chest Tuesday, I look at clippings from a page of the Donna Darling Collection.

Clipping: Plaza – Let’s Go – Donna Darling Collection

“Plaza – Let’s Go” showed the movie “The U. P. Trail” from Zane Grey’s great novel. For Vaudeville, “Donna Montran and Her ‘Bathing Beauties’ is the headliner. This ad doesn’t say when or where the show occurred. However, Donna went by Montran in her Bathing Beauties shows during 1920 and 1921. Along with Donna on the bill were:

  • Billy and Eddie Gorman – Passing Songs of 1920
  • Bo Peep and Jack Horner – Kathlyn Arnold and George L. Cohan.
  • Bart Doyle – Chesterfieldian Entertainer
  • The Great Richards.

It also mentions the show played Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday. And in the margin between two clippings was a handwritten note that said “Worchester Mass.”

Image rotated horizontally for readability.

Analysis

Worchester Evening Gazette 27 Dec 1920 via Genealogy Bank.

My review of available online newspapers found an ad, via Genealogy Bank, from the Worchester Evening Gazette, 27 December 1920, that is almost identical. It advertised “Plaza – Let’s Go” and included the same vaudeville acts. Other newspaper issues and pages indicated that Donna’s show played at the Plaza in Worchester on December 27, 28, & 29, 1920.

That fills a gap I had in her show schedule from her playing at the Palace Theater in Hartford, CT, December 22-25 and playing the Plaza Theater in Bridgeport, CT, between 30 December 1929 and 1 January 1921.

Actions

  • I added the following to her list of shows:

December 27-29, 1924 – “Donna Montran and Her ‘Bathing Beauties’” played Plaza-Let’s Go in Worchester, MA.

  • There are four more clippings from the Donna Darling Collection which relate to this show. Additionally, I found six articles in three newspapers on Genealogy Bank that document the show even more. I will include them in detail when I write about this show in detail.

Donna in the News – Jefferson Theater, Auburn, NY, Jan 8-10, 1923

Donna Darling – Vaudeville
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.“Donna in the News” is my reporting of newly found newspapers articles and advertisements regarding my grandmother, Madonna Montran (aka Donna Montran and Donna Darling). I am always excited when I find a new venue for my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s. I received a newsletter from New York State (NYS) Historic Newspapers that they had several new papers digitized and others updated. So, I thought I’d check it out.

First, I found that she was mentioned in several ads in the Dziennik Dla Wszystkich = Polish Everybody’s Daily. The ads reminded me that Donna played at the Layfayette Square Theater in Buffalo, NY, between September 15th and 20th, 1923, which I had known about before.

Second, I learned from the Advertiser Journal (Auburn, NY) dated 6 January 1923, that she played at the Jefferson Theater.  

The headliner will be presented by Donna Darling and Company, with Jack Finney and Mary [sic] Walker happily cast, presenting a song and dance revue of the better sort. They call the revue “A Song and Dance Romance” and one descriptive phrase is that it is a “dazzling dance phantasy.” Donna Darling and her partners have dressed the act sumptuously and introduce a number of novelty dances that have been winning success for the offering over the Keith Circuit. It is the kind of an act that vaudeville goers particularly enjoy, and will make a headline number of the most attractive sort.

Subsequent articles show she played at the Jefferson Theater in Auburn, New York, from January 8th through the 10th.

Because of those newly discovered articles, I was able to add another venue for Donna Darling & Company:

January 8-10, 1923 – Auburn, New York – Jefferson Theater – Donna Darling and Company in “A Song and Dance Romance”


My thanks to the folks at NYS Historic Newspapers for their providing online images of so many New York papers.

 

 

 

Donna 100 Years ago – Feeley Theatre, Hazleton, PA.

20 April 1922

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.“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.

Since my previous review, Donna at the Harris Theater, Pittsburgh, PA, in March, Donna had the following venues:

    • March 12-16, 1922 – Canton, Ohio – Lyceum Theatre
    • March 14, 1922 – Massillon, Ohio[i]
    • March 27-??, 1922 – Pittsburgh, PA – Sheridan Square Theatre
    • April 3-5, 1922 – York, PA – York Opera House
    • April 6-8, 1922 – Harrisburg, PA – Majestic Theatre
    • April 13-15, 1922 – Middletown, New York – Stratton Theatre
    • April 17-19, 1922 – Lancaster, PA – Colonial Theatre

Finally, she arrived in Hazelton, PA, to play for three days at the Feeley Theater from April 20th to the 22nd.

Preshow Advertising

Advertising for the show began on April 15th with a short paragraph on page seven in the Plain Speaker, “Big Bills at Feeley Theatre.”

The Plain Speaker, Sat., Apr 15, 1922.

Donna Darling, the favorite musical comedy star in a song and dance cocktail entitles “As You Like It” will be the feature vaudeville offering with the picture the last half of the week. Miss Darling is assisted by Murray Walker and Jack Finney, and this trio presents on the highest class variety acts in vaudeville today. They have a gorgeous stage setting in three scenes all of gold drapes and with wonderful lighting effects present a magnificent spectacle.

The Standard Sentinel ran the same article on the 17th.

Donna’s Scrapbook included a clipping showing the advertising copy from the show (Trimmed by Donna).

Feeley Theatre Ad – From the Donna Darling Collection

On the bill with her were:

  • Walter Kaufman – “The Black Cloud”
  • Chapman and Ring in “A Breeze From Musical Comedy.”
  • Grant and Wallace – Those Two Fall Guys
  • Two Movies
    • “The Silent Call” movie starring Strongheart (the dog), “The Most Amazing Animal Ever Seen on Any Screen.”
    • Buster Keaton in “The Playhouse”

But, the real gem from this show’s articles is a photo of Donna, the “Famous Musical Comedy Star Now Playing at the Feeley.

Beautiful Miss Donna Darling, who appeared here two seasons ago in “Chin Chin,” is presenting an elaborate Song and Dance spectacle at the Feeley in the Current Bill.

One hundred years ago, Donna played in the vaudeville act “As You Like It” at the Feeley Theatre in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.

Donna’s whereabouts are unknown for the next couple of weeks, but she appears at the Palace Theatre in Port Richmond (Staten Island), New York, on May 5th.

The Feeley Theater, Hazleton, PA[ii]

The Feeley Theatre opened in November 1916 and closed in 1976 for good. It was demolished in 1980.[iii] Today, the theatre location is a parking lot.

Specifications for the Feeley Theatre[iv]

Feeley Theatre, Hazelton, PA – Photo courtesy “Granola” via Cinema Treasures

Proscenium opening: 35×25 ft
Front to back wall: 35 ft
Between side walls: 65 ft
Apron 3 ft
Between fly girders: 40 ft
To rigging loft: 60 ft
To fly gallery: 20 ft
9 Dressing rooms


Endnotes

[i] Date and location provided by Russell Kees and not confirmed.
[ii] Hazleton is about 100 miles north-northwest of Philadelphia.
[iii] Source: Internet-Cinema Treasures, Feeley Theatre – Overview –  http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/12631
[iv] The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill theatrical and moving Guide, V. 20, 1921, page 306.