Donna Darling Collection – Part 60 – Parkway Theatre

Donna Montran – Vaudeville
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at eight images all relating to the Parkway Theatre. None of the clippings indicate what city the show is taking place in and none of the clippings provide a date. Donna’s 1924-1925 show went by many different names, Hollywood Bathing Beauties,” “California Bathing Beauties Revue,” and “Bathing Beauties Revue featuring Donna Darling. A film mentioned, “The Painted Flapper,” was released in October 1924, so Donna’s show most likely within the three months after the film’s release.

From other research, I knew that Donna played at the Parkway Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin from January 11 to the 15th. Could this be the Parkway Theatre of Donna’s Scrapbook?

A quick review said, yes, these clippings came from that show. Many of the clippings were identical to articles I found online so, I feel comfortable these clipping for the Parkway are from Donna’s Madison Show.

PARKWAY

Clipping from the Donna Darling Collection.
Clipping from newspapers.com

THE CALIFORNIA BATHING BEAUTIES REVUE

Direct from the Studios at Hollywood
In Person
featuring

DONNA DARLING
Creator of principal role in “Chin Chin” star of “Girl Behind the Gun;” winner of Madison Square beauty contest.
MR. MURRY EARLE Late feature dancer for George White Scandals
ALL ROSS & ALICE LOUISE Dances and Comedians
MISS BETTY BRYANT – Know for her comedy team work.
MISS MILDRED O’BRIEN – In Mack Sennett Comedies
MISS CLARICE ALLYN – Toe Dancer
MISS KATHERYN KOLLEEN – Dancer
MISS MYRTLE CARLSON – Dancer


PARKWAY
Same info as the previous ad, plus additional info about the accompanying motion picture, “The Painted Flapper: An Ultra Modern Jazzology” starring James Kirkwood and Pauline Garon.

(Note: Donna cut off the ads for coming attractions. )


Parkway

Clipping from the Donna Darling Collection.

The much heralded Bathing Girl Revue headed by Miss Donna Darling and her motion picture studio girls made it bow to Parkway Patrons yesterday and won applause. Their offering is fast, clean and colorful and thoroughly devoid of anything that smacks of the sensational often associated with the miniature revues.

Identical article in the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI) · 12 Jan 1925, Page 7.

The plot, though not a new one, is unique in development. In a short half hour one is whipped through a mirage of singing and dancing numbers following in quick succession, telling a history of the bathing suit from Grandmother’s day down to the present time, with a side trip around the world including stop offs at various beach resorts. The costumes are elaborate, the setting pleasing and the lighting effects unusual.

Of the cast Miss Darling stand out by right of her personality, beauty and grace. She was ably assisted by Murry Earl, a dancer of accomplishment. Miss Betty Bryant, for her demon dancing in the Mars episode and dainty Clarice Allyn’s Chinese bathing girl number deserve special mention.


BATHING BEAUTIES OF MOVIES IN REVUE AT PARKWAY

Bathing girls from various California motion picture studios will make a personal appearance in a colorful Hollywood Revue at the Parkway this week, beginning today. This review is a clever musical and dancing number which will show the Parkway patrons that these versatile girls can do other things than merely pose before the camera.

Miss Donna Darling, who comes direct from the Mack Sennett studios, is the charming star who introduces the Bathing Beauties dressed in bathing costumes dating from 1860 to the present day. Betty Bryant is the “Miss America of 1925.” Bathing costumes of various countries and fashionable sea-shore centers are introduced. Chief among these numbers is Mildred O’Brian, who appear as the beauty from Palm Beach. Miss Darling’s life guards, Murry Earl and Al Ross, add comedy to the Egyptian dance while petite Clarice Allyn as the Chinese bathing girl enhances the offering with clever toe dancing.

Elaborate costumes have been selected for this sparkling revue. The music is snappy and the production has brilliant scenic and lighting effects.


There was a large ad that ran across two pages in Donna’s scrapbook. It shows Donna on the left and two of the other girls. I have not identified either of them yet. I suspect one of them is probably Betty Bryant, but the other could be Mildred O’Brian or Clarice Allyn or even one of the other two girls. I’ll need to research that further.

Conclusion

The Donna Darling Collection provided new information about her show at the Parkway Theatre, Madison Wisconsin on January 11 to the 15th, 1925.

Follow-up Actions

I’ll need to search for photos of the other individuals of the show that are in the advertising.

Sources

Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · 12 Jan 1925 · Page 7.

Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · 14 Jan 1925 · Page 15.

Donna in the News – Two New Venues

Donna Montran
Vaudeville

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week, I learned of two new venues, specific dates for a previously known show, and one venue confirmed by another newspaper. I made these new discoveries using Genealogy Bank. A Search for Donna Montran found four new articles. One article confirmed a venue I wrote about before—Pacy’s Garden Theatre on September 14-17, 1920. The Baltimore American dated Sep 14, 1920, on page 5 said:

Bathing Girls at Garden.

Nine bathing girls, grouped as “The California Bathing Girls” and headed by Donna Montran are presenting “A Beach Promenade,” a musical comedy, at the Garden Theatre this week. The offering differs from the usual bathing-girl act in that it is not a series of tableaux, but is an ambitious musical comedy offering with six beach scenes and a number of tuneful melodies.

The Bijou – New Haven, Connecticut – 19-22 December 1920.

The Connecticut Labor Press (New Haven, CT) for Dec 18, 1920, said that:

George Walsh in “The Plunger,” and “The Dragon’s Net” will remain for the first half of the week in conjunction with a remarkable bill of all-star vaudeville headed by Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties.

From the Donna Darling Collection, (DDC-8) I had known that Donna played at the Bijou in New Haven sometime in November or December of 1920. An ad on this page showed it was Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (19-22 December).

State Theatre – Trenton, New Jersey – 3-5 March 1921

The latter part of Donna’s 1920-1921 Bathing Beauty Show has always been a mystery. I knew she played the Keeney Theatre in Brooklyn at the end of January and that she closed the show in May or June for the summer, but I knew nothing of February, March, April, or May. Thanks to the Trenton Evening Times, dated March 3, 1921, on page 16 I learned that she played the State Theatre, in Trenton, New Jersey in “Tom Rooney’s and Earl Lindsay’s California Bathing Girls.”

Garden Theatre – Baltimore, Maryland – 20 March 1921

The Baltimore Sun ran an advertisement for “The California Bathing Girls with Donna Montran in “A Beach Promenade” on March 20,  1921. This was a return to the Garden Theatre for Donna with the same show six months after her earlier show. Still not sure how many days she was there, but further research should provide the answer.



————–  Disclaimer  ————–

Donna Darling Collection – Part 42

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

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

 

THE GIRL WITH A MILLION
DOLLAR PERSONALITY

DONNA MONTRAN

PRIMA DONNA
“CALIFORNIA BATHING GIRLS”

Now at HENDERSON’S Coney Island Variety, July 30.

“Donna Montran has an undeniable million dollar smile, oodles of personality and an elastic voice that hits the high registers smoothly and effectively – would make ideal musical comedy stuff.

Abel.

Key features:

  • The venue is Henderson’s, Coney Island.
  • The show is the “California Bathing Girls.
  • The Date of the clipping is July 30, 1920.

Analysis

This is a very confusing clipping. It clearly indicates she was playing in Coney Island on July 30th. However, other articles indicate she was playing at Moss’ Broadway at 41st at the same time. Additionally, other sources indicate Donna played at Henderson’s Theatre from September 6-13.

So, I believe this write-up was wrong. Rather than being about a particular show, the article was intended to promote Donna for the personality she had and not advertise a specific show she was headlining.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 38

Treasure Chest Thursday
Family Photos (1370)

By Don Taylor

Three photos of Donna

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Scrapbook. The page had five items pasted onto it.

Preparing to Dive

Donna Montran Preparing to Dive.

When she was young, Donna was an incredible beauty. She won the beauty contest at Madison Square Garden several years before Miss America began there.[i] She was also one of the Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties. I believe this first photo probably comes from either of those periods. Certainly, the photo shows how beautiful she was. The original of this photo was a cut-out of a photo. It was torn at the top. I clipped the photo, touched it up, and pasted it onto a new background.[ii]

Donna with a Parasol

Donna with a Parasol

Donna loved to dress and look pretty. In this photo, Donna is wearing what appears to be one of her many bathing suits and she carrying a parasol. It is probably from 1920 or 1921 when she was staring in “California Bathing Girls.” It is possibly from 1924-25 when she headlined the “Motion Picture Bathing Beauties” show. This photo appears to be a promotional photo and the mark at the bottom left indicates “This Week” which was a magazine at the time. I would love to review an archive of “This Week” magazines from 1920-1925, to see if there might be a better quality photo of Donna there.

Donna

Another photo of Donna on the scrapbook page showed Donna apparently with someone. However, the photo of Donna with the parasol was pasted over half of the photo. In this photo she appears to be a bit older and the photo is clearly not a promotional in nature.

Other Images

Finally, there is a photo of a marquee with Andrew Mack at the top and Donna Montran and her Bathing Girls are listed below.  I’m still not sure where that comes from.  Hopefully, I’ll figure it out as I continue my research on the Donna Darling Collection. I have not seen Andrew Mack in any of the playbills for Donna during her Bathing Girls days.[iii]

Future Actions

  • Find a source for “This Week” magazine for between 1920 and 1925 and review them for possible photos of Donna.
  • Determine the date and place of the Andrew Mack, Donna Montran marquee photo.

Sources

Donna Darling Collection – Scan 1370.

Endnotes

[i] My feeling is that Donna was “Miss America” 3 years before the first “Miss America” pageant.

[ii] To save space, the Donna Montran “Preparing to Dive” image presented here is a 150 dpi image. I have a 600 dpi image available.

[iii] I have a copy of the original scrapbook page showing the Marquee at 600 dpi, but I hope to include the image when I determine the place and date of the engagement.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 29

Globe Theatre
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Donna Montran – Ill and Injured

The Donna Darling Collection has a page that included four little clippings. None of the four were dated. Elsewhere on that scrapbook page are articles regarding Donna’s playing at the Cosmos Theater in Washington DC in March. (More about that in another post.)

ILL AND INJURED [Transcript]

“Ill and Injured” – Donna Darling Collection

“Dave Kramer (Kramer and Boyle dislocated his knee in stepping out of an automobile. The team were forced to cancel the last half of last week as a result. (April 21)”

“Bill Vidocq. Keith agent, has returned from Lakewood and is back on the fifth floor of the Keith Exchange.

“Illness beset the Donna Montra [sic] and Bathing Girls Revue last week twofold when Juva Marconi dislocated her hip while dancing, causing her confinement in the Lankanau Hospital, Philadelphia. Later in the week Miss Montran, the prima donna of the company, underwent a nose and throat operation in New York.

[Globe Theatre, Philadelphia, May 16]

Illness Strikes Donna

“Donna Montran, who with her Bathing Beauties was forced to cancel some time through the necessity of an operation recently, has fully recovered and opens at the Globe theatre, Philadelphia, for a return engagement, May 16.”

[Ann Troy]

Ann Troy joins

“Ann Troy, dancer, has replaced Juva Marconi in the Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties act.”

[Donna Takes Summer Off]

Bathing Beauties closes for summer

“Donna Montran closed her Bathing Beauties act last week and will rest up for the summer. She will appear in production next season.”

Analysis

  1. In April 1920, Donna was still performing with “Chin-Chin” in Maryland.
  2. In March 1921, Donna was performing “Donna Montran and her California Bathing Beauties.”
  3. By April 1922, Donna had changed her stage name to “Donna Darling.”

So, we know that “ILL AND INJURED” must be referring to 1921.

  Birth, Marriage & Death CollectionApril 21 was the last half of the week of April 17 to 23. That means that Juva Marconi must have dislocated her hip sometime around April 17 to 19 and that Donna must have gone to New York for her surgery about 20th or 21st.

In Clipping 2, we learn the Donna and her Bathing Beauties opened at the Globe Theatre, Philadelphia on May 16.

In Clipping 3, we learn that Ann Troy replaced Juva Marconi in the show.

In Clipping 4, we learn that the show closed for the summer. It is unclear when that occurred.

What I learned:

  • Donna and her Bathing Beauties, including Juva Marconi, must have been playing in Philadelphia or somewhere near Philadelphia the week of 17 April 1921. Possibly the Globe Theatre.
  • Donna went to New York for nose and throat surgery about 20 April 1920.
  • Donna and her Bathing Beauties “returned” to the Globe theatre on May 16.
  • Donna and her Bathing Beauties closed sometime after May 16 for the summer.

Consequent to the above, I have updated the Donna Montran Timeline to include the following:

  • April 17, 1921 – Unknown Theater near Philadelphia (Possibly the Globe Theatre).
  • May 16, 1921 – Globe Theatre, Philadelphia, PA – Donna Montran and her Bathing Beauties.
  • Date unknown [May, June, or July 1921] – Donna Closed the Show for the Summer.