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Donna in Cheyenne, WY, November 22, 1919 at the Princess Theater
Chin Chin ad, 19 Nov 1919
Wyoming State Tribune
We don’t know where Donna and the “Chin Chin” company were on November 20th or the 21st. It is likely there were somewhere, but wherever it was the local newspaper doesn’t appear to currently have an on-line archive available. It is likely they were in Colorado or Wyoming those dates.
The pre-show buzz began as it typically did about a week before the show. On November 15th, the Wyoming State Tribune reported that, “‘Chin Chin’ Is Coming.” Manager M. H. Todd of the Princess theater announced the coming of “Charles Dillingham’s greatest musical comedy success ‘Chin Chin’ on November 22nd.” The hype kept going with an article on November 17th regarding “Catchy Music In ‘Chin Chin.’”
The first Princess Theater ad regarding the show ran on November 19th.
Wyoming State Tribune – 19 Nov 1919
Besides the typical ad, there was a photo of many of the “Pekin Girls” that were in the show.
Looking carefully at this photo, neither Uncle Russ nor I believe Donna is in it. Also, on the 19th, the Wyoming State Tribune ran a short article about the show that indicated, among other things that the show was “a bevy of feminine beauty with pretty dresses, swift and grotesque dancing, a feast of music….” In this case, I believe that “grotesque dancing” means “comically distorted dancing.”
The newspaper on November 20th ran an article, “Choose Your Own Star” wherein they indicate, “There is no leading lady in this organization, although a number of beautiful women, principals, and otherwise song birds and actresses are in the cast. “It appears that show who is to enjoy the place of honor as first favorite is left tot he choice of the public.”
That is an interesting statement because it clearly comes from the press releases before the show. Sometime later, Donna’s press will say she was the star of “Chin Chin” which didn’t have a leading lady. I guess her place of honor in the company is our choice.
The day of the show, not only did The Princess advertise “Chin-Chin” tonight but Night-Cambell;s advertised that people could “Hear Tom Brown’s Famous Clown Band.” The Bucscher Saxophones used by the Clown Band were available at Knight-Cambell’s music. Also on the 22nd, there was the typical short article about the “Meaning of ‘Chin Chin.’”
The review of the show, which ran in the Wyoming State Tribune on Monday, November 24, 1919 was less than stellar.
First-Class Show; Second Class Cast
This Was Verdict of Big Crowd at Princess Theater Saturday Night — Many Possibilities, But That’s All
“A first-class show,” said Little Mary Sunshine, after it was all over with at the Princess Saturday night.
“A first-class show, put on by a second-class company. corrected Old Man Grouch, sitting at her elbow.
And, if a vote had been taken, probably three-fourths of the capacity house would have agreed with the old Man.
It was easy to see that “Chin Chin had possibilities. It was easy to see why, when it came out in New York a number of years ago; Montgomery and Stone were able to keep it going night after night for something like two seasons. But it was also easy to see why, with Dave Montgomery dead, with Fred Stone in other productions, and with to the music now out of the so-called popular class, this show had lost a goodly share or whatever drawing power It may once have had.
A Few Pleasing Features.
The clown saxophone band was excellent. So were the performances of “Paderewski” at the piano, the fake ventriloquist, and the horse and bareback rider in the circus. The soprano got away in good shape when she sang something about violets, and again when she asked the tenor to fly with her to loveland. The costumes were quite a novelty.
But outside at that there isn’t much to be said. The scenery was rather shopworn, the chorus girls were drowned out by the orchestra at least half of the time, and, with the exception of the two comedians, who did their best to make up for the absence of ‘their illustrious predecessors, the cast was pretty much along the amateur style.
Good in its Day.
As one young lady remarked; “This reminds me of the plays we used to put on at the convent.”
The only song we can recall today was “Goodbye, Boys, I’m Through.” It was good in its day, but that day has long since passed.
There may have been a plot but if there was we don’t seem to in able to remember the details.
Perhaps the weakest fink in the chain was the big young tenor. He broke down twice. We excused him afterward, however, when we found that he had joined the troupe only last week in Denver—and then of course who knows but what be really did have a bad cold?
This Man Liked It
It also developed afterwards that this was the same young man who sang “Micky” when the movie by that name appeared at the Princess some time ago. And, it seem here was one man at least who knew how to appreciate the show.
“If the people of Cheyenne don’t like it,” he said Saturday morning, it may be because it goes over their heads—too high class for ‘em. That’s why it didn’t get by very well in Denver.
Maybe so, maybe so.
The Princess Theater
Courtesy of the Wyoming State Archives, Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources
I can’t find out much about the Princess Theater in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I can’t find any information about when it was built. Certainly it was open in 1918 when it hosted WWI films. The Wyoming State Tribune mentions the Princess Theater being “prosperous” on Page 2 of the March 14, 1918 newspaper. So the theater clearly predates that date. [Anyone who can find information about the theater, please feel free to comment below.]
It appears that the building was sold in 1940. After the death of the owner in 1948, his widow had the building renovated in 1950. It was reopened as the WYO Theater. The WYO theater was closed in 1969.
ATTORNEY IS PREPARING FOR PRELIMINARY IN MURDER CHARGE
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“I find in preparing for the preliminary hearing that the state has no case against Bell for the murder of McAllister,” Shelby Myrick, attorney, stated today.
To Defend Bell
Mr. Myrick has accepted the case and will defend William R. Bell,
who is in jail on a charge of murdering Edward L. McAllister. The dead man was discovered in his home Tuesday of last week. He
had been slain with a hatchet
Myrick says he expects the preliminary hearing will take place within a few days.
Donna in Colorado Springs, CO, November 19, 1919 at the Burns Theater
It was less than two weeks after Donna joined the “Chin Chin” before her superior skill was called out in a review.
The pre-show buzz began as it typically did with stories from the Press Agents ten days before the show. Again on the 11th, the Press Agents wrote, and the Colorado Springs Gazette reported about “Charles Dillingham’s Stupendous Musical Comedy ‘Chin Chin.”
The pre-show buzz continued with an article on the 14th and again on the 15th with “What Press Agents Say.” Also on the15th there appeared an here-to-unseen photograph of “‘The Four French Dancing Dolls’ in Charles Dilingham’s stupendous production of “Chin Chin, coming to Burns Theater next Wednesday evening.” The woman on the far left looks surprisingly like Donna. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any further sources for the image and can’t confirm that it is Donna.
Again, on the 18th, “What Press Agents Say” ran a rehash of “The Evolution of ‘Chin Chin,” which has run in other papers. Also, in the newspaper of the 18th, there was a small advertisement by the Burns Theater indicating “Chin Chin” was coming, Wednesday, November 19th. They ran a similar ad on the 19th indicating the show was tonight.
In a very unusual action, the Colorado Springs Gazette published a review of the show in the next day’s paper. It is somewhat unusual for a review to run subsequent a one-show production. The review said
‘CHIN CHIN’ OF PRESENT
RECALLS PAST GLORIES
Spectacular and Tuneful Musical
Comedy Retains Much of Charm
Which Made It Success
The “Chin Chin” of the past and this “Chin Chin’* of the present are two separate and distinct attractions, only distantly related, in fact; yet this current production was gulped down by a hungry audience at the Bums last evening as eagerly as if it had been the original. “Which only goes to show what limited theatrical opportunities will do to a people who are commonly supposed to he somewhat critical.
From this it is not to be judged that today’s “Chin Chin” is impossible. It is simply that it suffers by comparison. Were it not that its reputation had preceded it probably it [sic] would have been received without more than a word or two of dissent. For it did offer an evening’s entertainment.
Generally, the production is spectacular; somewhat the worse for the handling and a bit faded, but still possessing a glitter that made for friendliness. Numbers produce a sense or activity and a couple of comedians of slapstick tendencies kept things going where musical numbers fall. There is no music worth mentioning. Melodies of years gone by, “Goodbye, Girls, I’m Thru,” “Temple Bells,” “Love Moon,” et cetera, are on the program, but they simply account for so many minutes of playing time, there being no one in the company with a voice, sufficient even to get these over. Yes, there Is music; too; the clown band, a saxophone quintet which aroused, and legitimately, the only real enthusiasm of the evening.
Walter Wills and Roy Binder appear in the varied roles In which Montgomery and Stone once carried the play along with the greatest joy, and not without some degree of success. Particularly did Mr. Wills appear to good advantages in his ragtime Paderewski and in his mad dance with Miss Irene McKay. For the most part the comedy is of a low type which is not so noticeable when everyone is putting the full amount of life into h!s work, but which becomes woefully apparent otherwise. Miss Donna Montran. a stunning type, is the only other one likely to he remembered after the curtain. [Emphasis min
Wow, how exciting, Donna “A stunning type” and likely to be remembered.
The Burns Theater
The Burns Theater was built in 1912 for $300,000 on Pikes Peak Avenue near Tejon Street. In 1928 it was turned into a movie house and renamed the Paramount Theater. Several years later it was renamed the Chief Theater. The theater was demolished in 1973 and is now the site for a drive-through for US Bank.
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 9, 1919, Page 33 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 11, 1919, Page 10 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 14 1919, Page 7 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 15, 1919, Page 12 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 18, 1919, Page 6 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 19, 1919, Pages 2 & 12 via Genealogy Bank
Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), November 20, 1919, Page 2 via Genealogy Bank
Cinema Treasures, Chief Theater, 21 E. Pikes Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Opera in Old Colorado, Opera Houses, Pueblo, Grand Opera House.
We do not know if the company took off on November 16th and 17th or played somewhere we do not have a newspaper record of. Based upon Walter Wills and Nora Seiler being married on the 15th, I suspect that the company had two days off before they began shows again. In any event, the Chin Chin company passed by Colorado Springs to go to Pueblo for one night show, on November 18th, at the Grand Theater.
Small towns, like Pueblo was in 1919, often have the greatest coverage of an event like “Chin Chin” coming to town. Pueblo was no exception to having a lot of coverage of the event. Pre-show coverage for the Pueblo engagement began November 9th, 1919. The Pueblo Chieftain reported:
“CHIN CHIN” COMING NEXT
It is with a great deal of pleasure, in fact pride, that Manager Anderson of the Grand theater announces the coming of Charles Dillingham’s greatest musical comedy success, “Chin Chin” on Tuesday, November 18.
This play appeared first at the Globe theater in New York for two solid years and is now on a transcontinental trip touring the west for the first time.
In the leading roles will be seen Walter Wills and Roy Binder, who came to us with the stamp of approval won in such productions as “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Red Mill,” “Hitchy Koo,” etc., etc., etc.
The company is acceded to be the largest musical comedy aggregation on the road today, comprising sixty-five people, mostly girls and Tom Brown’s famous Clown Saxaphone band. Charles Dillingham’s name is associated with the biggest and best theatrical enterprises, such as the Hippodrome and Glove theater in New York. Some of his latest productions are “Jack O’Lantern,” with Julia Sanderson and Joe Cawthorp; “Hip, Hip, Hooray,” with 1200 associates, and “Everything,” which has surpassed all records at the New York Hippodrome during the season 1918-1919.
“Chin Chin” is a fantastic production, rich in Oriental and Old English costuming. In seven sets, including the most startling surprises, ingenious trickery and grotesque dancing in plenty, affording an entertainment that is clean and wholesome, proving hilarious amusement for both young and old, which qualities are the making of and particular success of the theatrical magnate, Charles Dillingham.
Absolute capacity houses have greeted “Chin Chin” everywhere, therefor mail orders should be dispatched immediately to insure location desired.
The next day, November 10, 1919, the Pueblo Chieftain reported on page 2 more about the show.
Charles Dillingham’s production, “Chin-Chin,” one of the biggest hits emanating from Broadway, will be presented at the Grand Opera House on Tuesday, Nov. 18.
Altho the name savors of the Oriental the show is intensely American.
Aladdin and his lamp, toys coming to life. Teddy bears dancing and similar things give the watcher the feeling of taking part in a good fairy tale and recall of the Teddies for more of their amusing dance is expressive of the sort of fun one has through the play.
In Fact, a chorus which can really dance, adds to the rhythmic effect in tone and motion which the designers of such entertainment mean to give. Really pretty chorus girls who can sing and dance, wearing the most picturesque Chinese and fancy costumes, effective stage settings, giving colorful backgrounds for the work of the principals and chorus, much fun and clever solo work make up n entertainment of unusual merit.
The Pueblo Chieftain continued the “Chin Chin” hype on the 11th were it reported:
At the Grand Opera house Tuesday night, November 18, the everlasting “Chin Chin” is announced. There is but one company presenting this, the greatest American musical comedy.
Seven gorgeous settings make up the stupendous production of Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin.” The principal comedians are Walter Wills and Roy Binder.
The book is by Anne Caldwell and R. H. Burnside, the lyrics by Miss Caldwell and James O’Dea, the music by Ivan Caryll, so well remembered for his ingratiating melodies in “The Pink Lady” and “The Little Cafe.”
This riot of run, feast of music, bevy of feminine beauty with pretty dresses, swift and grotesque dancing and lots of prankish amusement, including Tom Brown’s Clown Band as the famous Saxophone Sextette, promises a most enjoyable entertainment, with Charles Dillingham’s own company presenting this wonderful spectacle.
In this musically rich show such numbers as “Violet”, “The Grey Moon”, “The Love Moon”, “Goodbye Girls, I’m Thru”, and the comedy song, “Go Gar Sig Gong-Jue”, always receive spontaneous applause. Seat sale opens Saturday.
A similar article appeared in the November 12th Pueblo Chieftain newspaper. Besides the above information, it added that “‘Chin Chin‘ has rivaled even ‘Flordora‘ in its popularity.” It also added that, “even during war times ‘Chin Chin‘ has been doing a record business on the road, near army camps and elsewhere.” It also reiterates that, “‘Chin Chin’ is a show that is clean and wholesome fun, offending no one.”
The buzz was kept alive with an article, in the November 13th, 1919, issue of the Pueblo Chieftain, which included photos of some of the cast.
Do you remember when you were just a tiny chap, how you would read the “Thousand and One Nights” or the wonderful adventures of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and “Sinbad, the Sailor,” and all the rest of those fascinating characters, and how from out of them all emerged “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” as the prime adventure of them all? And not Aladdin – a very modern aladdin – very much in love with an American girl appears in Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin” which comes to the Grand Opera house Tuesday, November 18. In this musical concoction everything comes Aladdin’s way upon wishing and rubbing the wonderful lamp, thereby causing many strange and wonderful situations.
Walter Wills and Roy Binder as the two slaves of the lamp keep the audience in constant laughter through seven scenes and the three acts that cover one hundred and fifty minutes of the most enjoyable fun.
Among the many features in this gigantic show are also the Teddy Bear Dance, Tom Brown’s Clown Saxophone Band, a real circus tent with an “honest-to-goodness” big white circus horse circling around the ring while Mlle. Falloffski performs the most daring and screamingly funny bareback stunts.
On November 14, 1919, the Pueblo Chieftain ran another article regarding “Chin Chin” titled. “The Evolution of ‘Chin Chin.’”
There appears to be no doubt that Charles Dillingham’s stupendous production of “Chin Chin” with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the lead will duplicate its record of absolute capacity audiences at the Grand theater on next Tuesday night.
It was during the run of “The Lady and the Slipper” that “Chin Chin” was evolved.
The idea of a circus horse and Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp found favor with Charles Dillingham for a production of magnitude and wonders.
Several months elapsed before Mr. Dillingham was in a position to send for Anne Caldwell and R. H. Burnside and to hand them over the matter that had been collected by manager and comedians. Upon completion of the book, lyrics had to be written. Miss Caldwell had to submit a series of songs and those in turn were discussed carefully. With the book and lyrics in completed form, Ivan Caryll, the composer, was called into conference. He went to the South of France to write his music. In the meanwhile Charles Dillingham put himself into communication with Wilhelm, an eEnglish artist, and the scheme of coloring seen in “Chin Chin” was evolved. Then came into action those responsible for the mechanical construction of the scenery — electricians and property makers.
After months of labor and research everything was in shape for Burnside to begin his labor in making the whole matter practical by rehearsing the company. The final outcome of the matter was an expenditure of $75,000 before the curtain could be raised on the first presentation of “Chin Chin.” The result was the biggest Charles Dillingham success. Seat sale opens tomorrow.
On the 15th, The Pueblo Chieftain ran another story in anticipation of “Chin Chin’s” arrival. I pretty much covered the same information that previous articles covered, however, there was a new photo of Walter Wills and Roy Binder shown.
The 16th saw the first ads for Chin Chin in the Pueblo Chieftain along with an article that included a large photo of 12 of the girls in the show along with photos of Walter and Roy. Again the quality of the newspaper image is not good enough to tell if Donna is included. The accompanying article is multi column and multi-page. Although the article provides much of the color and sounds of the show, it doesn’t provide much additional insight.
The Grand Opera House in Pueblo was built in 1890. When built, it was the largest theater in Colorado seating 1,200 people at a cost of $350,000. The building was destroyed by fire March 1, 1922. The loss was put at $700,000. Photos of the building after the fire show lots of ice so it must have been a miserable fire to fight.
Grand Opera Theater after 1922 fire
Today, the northwest corner of 4th and Main does not have the splendor that the old opera house had. It is a rather plain, nondescript, four story building.
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 10, 1919, Page 2 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 11, 1919, Page 9 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 13, 1919, Page 8 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 14, 1919, Page 6 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 15, 1919, Page 8 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 16, 1919, Page 15 via Genealogy Bank
Murder Suspect, and Wife, Who Prepares to Fight His Cause
Mr. Bell is held incommunicado in Chatham jail on a charge of slaying Edward L. McAllister, who was found dead a week ago. His wife stoutly maintains his innocence and is preparing to go to work to earn money that he may be given every advantage in his defense. Mr. Bell was in the army during the war. He served for a time at Camp Wheeler, Macon.
BELL’S WIFE TRACES HIS MOVEMENTS ON NIGHT OF MURDER
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
SAYS DOESN’T SEE HOW THEY SAY HER HUSBAND SLEW M’ALLISTER
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
W. R. BELL ARRESTED LATE ON YESTERDAY
Mrs. Lillian Bell, wife of William Robert Bell, who was jailed late yesterday on the charge of murdering Edward L. McAllister, does not know “how they can say Mr. Bell killed ‘Mac.'” and traces the movements of her husband on Monday night, the time the police believe Mr. McAllister was killed with a hatchet in his home on Thirty-ninth street, near Ash.
A Press representative called on Mrs. Bell this morning and, although busily engaged in cooking breakfast when the newspaper man arrived. Mrs. Bell, rather frail but very attractive little woman with bronze hair and brown eyes, talked about the case very freely.
“I don’t know how they can say Mr. Bell killed ‘Mac.’ I know they say he was late going to work that Monday night, but I can show you the bottle of medicine he got for the baby. She was well all afternoon, but about 8 o’clock she became ill and Mr. Bell said he did not intend to go to work. I told him I thought he could go to work, but he is simply foolish about Dolores and said he did not intend to leave her ill. He ﬁnally made up his mind to go down to yard on Liberty street and ask Mr. Ferguson to tell his leader, Mr. Champion, that his baby was ill and he would not be at work.”
Went to Drug Store
Continuing her story of her husband’s movements on the Monday night in question, Mrs. Bell said: “When Mr. Bell came back from the yard, he went to Norwood’s drug store to get some medicine but it was closed. He then went to the other drug store down on East Broad, but It was also closed. Mr. Bell then came back, put up his, car and went to work.”
When asked if her husband and McAllister had been on good terms lately, Mrs. Bell hesitated a little before replying, but finally said: Well, yes, I think so. I know Mr. Bell told me he and “Mac” walked out together on Saturday the latter part of December when they were paid off. Asked if they came off together the Saturday just prior to the killing, Mrs. Bell said Mr. Bell was paid off in the morning while McAllister was paid off Saturday afternoon.
Married in Macon
From the talk with Mrs. Bell, it developed that the couple were married in Macon – about seven years ago. Later they went to Florida, returning to Georgia about two years ago, she said.
A Good Man
In this connection Mrs. Bell said: “I can say this for Mr. McAllister, He was one of the best men I ever saw. He certainly was good to us. When my baby was ill at the hospital he used to go there nearly every day.”
When the interviewer was going, little Dolores, six-year-old daughter of the prisoner was playing with her big doll. She insisted on showing the reporter her “Mama Doll” as she called it. Later when her mother gave her a nickel she wanted the Press man to “go out and get her some ice cream” with it.
Efforts of the county police to solve the McAllister mystery culminated late yesterday in the arrest of
Mr. Bell, who lives at 111 East Broad Street, and who was a co-employee, [sic] working on an alternative shift, with with the late Edward L. Mc-
(Continued on Page Seven.)
BELL’S WIFE TRACES HIS MOVEMENT IN
(Continued from Page Sixteen)
Allister at the Atlantic Coast Line car repair department at Southover Junction.
After chcecking [sic] up all the evidence obtainable in the case Chief Chapman, and Officers Umbach, Sheppard, and Henderson, went to Bell’s residence on East Broad between Broughton and State streets and arrested him on a warrant issued by Judge John E. Schwarz, recorder. Joseph McAllister, a brother of the dead man, swore out the warrant.
Bell was placed in the car with the group of ofﬁcers and taken to county police headquarters. He was
taken into the private office of Chief Chapman where he was kept for about an hour and questioned before being locked up in the county jail. The prisoner, however, was said by the police to be in a semi-intoxicated condition and their efforts to get a coherent statement from him did not result in anything tangible.
When taken to the jail Bell was dressed in the clothes in which he was accustomed to work. He is a small man and rather thin. He has dark eyes and hair and appears to be about 30 years old. After he was locked up orders were given that no one be allowed to interview the prisoner.
While the county police were not willing to divulge all the clues they claim to have in their possession
relatives to the murder, it is claimed that Bell owed the dead man considerable money, and that the relations between the two for several months past had not been agreeable. The county police also understood to have evidence that Mr. Bell made a remark indicating that he and Mr. McAllister were not on good terms. On what the police believe the fatal night, ‘Bell is said to have reported to work on the night shift at the car repair shops an hour late.
Mr: McAllister, the police believe, was murdered on Monday night. He was found dead on Tuesday morning, his head having been mutilated with a hatchet.
Never Saw Hatchet.
When shown a picture of the hatchet with which McAllister is believed to have been killed, Mrs. Bell said she did nont [sic] remember ever having seen it at the McAllister residence. “We only live at Mr. McAllister’s house about a month, and I don’t think it was there. Mr. McAllister always split the wood in the yard with an ax,” she said.
Early this afternoon, Mrs. Bell called on Col. Shelby Myrick, who she said had been retained to represent her husband. she called at the county jail this morning to see her husband, but under orders from Chief Chapman she was not permitted to do so.
In the neighborhood it was at stated today that Mrs. Bell is a native of Virginia. She is said to he an efficient stenographer and, in case her husband is kept in jail, intends to get a position in order to support herself and her little girl. Several of the neighbors have assured her that they would take care of the child while she is at work, it was stated.