Donna in the News – The New Theater Bills

“Donna in the News” is my reporting of newly found newspaper articles and advertising 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. 

This week’s clipping is from The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kansas), dated 2 December 1923. It and several other clippings can be added to Donna’s history.  

THE NEW THEATER BILLS

ORPHEUM

VAUDEVILLE. Matinee and night. Two shows Saturday night. Blossom Seeley headlining bill opening Monday matinee for three days.

Blossom Seeley calls her medium of expression “Miss Syncopation.” Evidently she…

Billy McDermott, who bills himself as “The only Survivor of Coxey’s Army,” is a tramp…

Donna Darling is a musical comedy ingenue. With a capable supporting company, Miss Darling offers a dazzling dance fantasy called “A Song and Dance Romance.”

Orpheum Advertisement The Wichita Eagle,
2 December 1923

This clipping and the associated advertisements show Donna played at the Orpheum Theater in Wichita, Kansas, on December 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 1923.

Thanks to Newspapers.com’s newly available online articles, I was able to add another venue for Donna’s vaudeville career.

 

 

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.

SOUTH BROAD—“KAZAN”

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

Conclusion

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.

BATHING GIRLS NOW PLAYING AT THE TERRACE THEATRE

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.

Conclusion

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

Donna Darling Collection – Part 78

Terrace Theatre – Bathing Beauties

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

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

Terrace Theatre – Attendance Records Smashed, circa 1925

Cinema Treasures reported 41 Terrace theatres in the united states, but only one of them in a city named Danville – Danville, IL. Donna appears to have had two trips into Illinois with her Bathing Beauties, once in the fall of 1924 (September) and again in January/February 1925. So this show must have been from one of those periods.

This clipping is particularly interesting because it names the other girls in the show.

  • Betty Bryant of Ziegfield’s – A Prize Winner.
  • Mildred O’Brien – In Singing and Dancing.
  • Alyce Louyse – A Bather From Mars.
  • Clarice Allyn – Petite Toe Dancer.
  • May Walker – Blue Singer and Beach Flirt

It also mentions Murray Earl as Comedian.

Key features:

  • The venue was the Terrace Theatre in Danville, Illinois.
  • The show was the “California Motion Picture – Big Hollywood Reue of Bathing Beauties, featuring Donna Darling.

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

Conclusion

Date Unknown (Probably Fall 1924or Spring 1925) – Danville, IL – Terrace Theatre – Hollywood Revue of Bathing Beauties.

Donna at the State Street Theatre in Trenton, NJ

100 Years Ago – March 3rd, 1921

We know Donna played in Amsterdam, NY, in early February but have no shows for her from then until she played at the State Street Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey, from March 3rd through the 5th. The Trenton Evening Times published two brief writeups. The first one, March 3rd, under Theatres and Movies, read:

Trenton Evening Times, 3 March 1921, Page 16 (via  Genealogy Bank)

STATE—FATTY ARBUCKLE

The last half of Banner wee opens today at the State Street Theatre with a complete change of program, embracing six star vaudeville acts and the famous Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle in Brewster’s Millions.”

Manager Wahn has also booked Tom Rooney’s and Earl Lindsay’s California Bathing Girls, an attraction of high character, including the noted Donna Montran. “Fatty” Arbuckle in the role….

The California Bathing Girls is a miniature musical comedy, “A Beach Promenade,” and is replete with brilliant songs and appealing musical numbers. There is fun aplenty and a fashion show of 1921 bathing costumes, including the one-piece suits in vogue at the prominent winter resorts. Other vaudeville star acts are….

Interestingly, the article cites Tom Rooney[i] and Earl Linsay as owning the show “their California Bathing Girls.”  I’m sure Donna didn’t like that much. That might be why it was changed in the second listing. which read:

STATE—“FATTY” ARBUCKLE

Trenton Evening Times, 4 March 1921, Page 22 (via  Genealogy Bank)

The last half of Banner Week at the State Street Theatre opened yesterday with capacity crowds. The show in its entirety is a round of riotous laughter, in which the noted Rosco (“Fatty”) Arbuckle is presented in “Brewster’s Millions,” six all-star vaudeville acts and comedy films….

The California Bathing Girls proved a combination of beauty and 1921 bathing suit style show, reflecting those to be worn this season at the popular bathing resorts. The American girl, in a snappy one-piece suit, made a distinct hit. Blair & Crystal appeared….

The other shows on the bill included:

    • Martin Goodwin in “The Union Man”
    • Josephine Lenhardt, diminutive comedienne
    • Harry and Ruth Sullivan in “The Love Nest”
    • Blair Crystal comedy skit
    • Comedy Martinetti in “The Silent Fool.”

The movie playing that week was the 1921 edition of “Brewster’s Millions.” (Not to be confused with 1914, 1935, 1945, or 1985 versions of the film – Or the future “Brewster’s Billions” currently in development.)

State Street Theater, Trenton, New Jersey

The State Street Theatre (Public Domain)
The State Street Theatre (via Cinema Treasures)

The State Street Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey, opened on December 9th, 1903.[ii]

Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide for 1910-1911 reports that the seating capacity was 2,025. Interestingly the Guide for 1913-1914 indicated that vaudeville and movies played at the theatre but that the theater management ignored repeated requests for corrected details. And the guide for 1921 did not include the theatre.

The theater closed in the early 1950s.[iii]

Specifications for the State Street Theatre[iv]

Seating Capacity: 2,025

Proscenium opening: 39 ft
Footlights to back wall: 40 ft
Between side walls: 75 ft
Between fly girders: 58 ft
To rigging loft: 70 ft
To fly gallery: 25 ft
10 Dressing rooms


Endnotes

[i] Thomas Valentine Rooney was Donna’s second (known) husband. They were married on 24 November 1915.
[ii] “RKO State Theatre In Trenton, NJ – Cinema Treasures”. 2021. Cinematreasures.Org. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/11944
[iii] ibid.
[iv] The Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide for 1910-1911