Donna 100 Years ago – Palace Theatre, Cincinnati, Ohio.

September 4-9, 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.

The Cincinnati Enquirer · 3 Sep 1922 – Page 61.

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:

The Cincinnati Post 4 Sep 1922. Page 6?
    • 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.

Palace Theater

Palace Theatre, 1924.

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].

Endnotes

[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

Donna Darling – Strand Theatre, Dayton, Ohio – 28-30 Aug 1922.

Donna 100 Years Ago
“As You Like It”
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.


Donna took a break from June 7th until about July 10th, 1922, to have her tonsils removed and take a vacation. I suspect it took a couple of months for her throat to heal because I haven’t found any venues from then until this show at B. F. Keith’s Strand Theatre in Dayton, Ohio.

She arrived in Dayton to play three days at the Strand Theatre from August 28th to the 30th, 1922.

Preshow Advertising

An article in the Dayton Herald, on August 26th, 1922, Page 5, foretold her show arrival;

MINSTRELSY NUMBER HEADS FIRST KEITH BILL ON VODEVILLE

Russell’s Minstrels Open Monday; Jean Sothern Coming Thursday.

Russell’s Minstrels scheduled as headline attraction for the first half of the week at the Keith -Strand carries patrons back to the days when minstrelsy was “the thing” and the offering with its spicy, speedy, jazzing feast of syncopation will bring much applause and much cheer to the heart.

Donna Darling the musical comedy favorite assisted by Murray Walker and Jack Finney in “As You Like It” will star in this little “cocktail” in which the ingredients and tasty and completely satisfying. Miss Darling and her clever co-workers are all excellent songsters.

The following day, the Dayton Daily News, August 27th, 1922, on Page 17, wrote:

Donna Darling, the musical comedy favorite, whose voice is as charming as her personality and her adaptability equivalent to the most favored star, will be assisted by Murray Walker and Jack Finney and the trio will present melody of that is of particular interest and influence….

Ad – The Dayton Herald – 29 August 1922.

On the 29th, the day after the show began, the Dayton Herald reported (on page 12):

Donna Darling and Murray Walker present a little skit replete with song and dance which has many brief moments of excellence. Especially noteworthy in this act is the singing of Miss Darling and the dancing of Walker.

And finally, on the 30th, the last day of the show, the Dayton Daily News reported;

“Donna Darling, who is blonde and beautiful, has a great deal of talent. She is assisted in her act by Murray Walker, another excellent dancer.”

B. F. Keith’s Strand Theatre

Dayton’s RKO Strand Theatre – Photo Courtesy Gary Smith via Cinema Treasures.org

The Theatre opened in 1904 as the National Theatre. It became the Lyceum Theatre in 1913 and changed its name to the B. F. Keith Theatre the following year. A fire damaged the Theatre in 1916, and it reopened as the Strand Theatre later in 1916 and showed movies only.[i] Sometime between then and 1922, the Theatre began showing Vaudeville shows again. It was destroyed by fire in 1943 and never rebuilt. Today, the Convention Center sits on the site.

The 1921 Julius Chan—Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory lists B. F. Keith’s as a 1,841-seat capacity theatre that plays both Vaudeville and Pictures, managed by James L. Weed. As you might guess, it is part of the Keith’s Theatre Circuit.

Today the site appears to be a street underpass under the railroad tracks near the Dayton Convention Center.


Endnotes

[i] Internet: Cinema Treasures dot org – “RKO Strand Theatre” 214 Maine Street, Dayton, Ohio. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/33385

Donna In the News – Evansville, IN – 27 September 1922

Donna In the News – Evansville, IN – 27 September 1922

Donna in the News
by Don Taylor

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


This week from the Evansville Journal (Evansville, IN), dated 27 September 1922, on Page 12, I learned that Donna was coming to the Victory Theater and opening on Thursday (28 September). 

VICTORY VAUDEVILLE BILL CHANGES THURSDAY

Ad showing Dona Darling & Co. playing at the Victory Theatre – The Evansville Courier, 28 September 1922, via Newspapers.Com

— A new bill opening Thursday consists of “The Runaways”; Twyman and Vincent, “Pancakes and Flapjacks”; Casson and Clem, “Mirth Melody and Song”; Dona Darling Co., “As You Like it”; Cantwell and Walker, “Vou vez vous”; and Carl Emmy’s “Mad Wags.” Trained pets.

The following day, September 28th, the advertisement for the show included Dona Darling & Co.

Because of those newly available online articles available through Newspapers.com, I was able to add another venue for Donna’s exciting vaudeville career.

New information added to her career list:

September 28-30, 1922 – Evansville, Indiana – Victory Theatre “As You Like It.”

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.

 

Donna 100 Years ago – November 1921

“Donna 100 years ago” is my reporting items relating to my grandmother, Madonna Montran (aka Donna Montran and aka Donna Darling). Hers was the exciting world of 1920s vaudeville. She crisscrossed the country with her many shows.

From the Donna Darling Collection, I learned that Donna played at a Strand Theatre (location and date unknown but probably October or November (See: DDC-70). She also played at the Stroud Theatre in Stroudsburg, PA on November 24-25 (See: DDC-76).

The November 25th issue of Variety’s San Francisco Offices reported under NEW ACTS that: “Donna Montran (“Bathing Beauty Revue”) in song and dance act with Walter Davis and Murray Walker assisting.” It shows that Walter and Murray were with her in November. Walter Davis left Donna and her show by January 11, 1922. They were only mentioned rarely in advertisements.

I have not been successful in finding any additional venues for Donna during November 1921.