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 Collection – Part 54

Donna at Rialto, Swiss Gardens, & American Theatres, plus three photos.

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at image DSCN1468  from the Donna Darling Collection. This image includes 5 objects; two newspaper clippings and three photographs.

The Two Clippings

The first clipping shows “Donna Darling & Co with Sammy Clark in a Singing and Dancing Revue in Five Scenes” as an added feature to the Rialto Theatre in Racine, Wisconsin, show on Sunday. With them are four other vaudeville shows.

  • Boyd Senter “Jazzologist Supreme”
  • Denyle Don & Everett “Up for Air”
  • Bennett & Lee “Vaudeville Etiquette”
  • Dallas Trio “A Comedy Novelty”

This clipping is the identical advertisement I had seen previously in the Journal Times, Racine, Wisconsin, 31 July 1926, Page 11. (Thanks to Newspapers.Com.)

The second clipping is a very short one that says:

DONNA DARLING and SAMMY CLARK are enjoying a long run at the Swiss Gardens, Cincinnati, O., with their vaudeville revue. They will remain there until July 31 and then open in Chicago at the American on Aug. 20.

My previous research indicated that Donna and Sammy played at the Swiss Gardens July 23rd thru July 31st. However, I did not know they played at the American Theatre in Chicago August 20th. Thanks to this clipping I was able to add the location of the Swiss Gardens Theatre as being Cincinnati, Ohio and was able to add a new venue, The American Theatre in Chicago on August 20.

The three photos.

The first is a photo of Russell standing between two men, who are certainly brothers and are probably twin brothers.  Russell was born in August 1927, so this photo appears to be from 1928 or 1929. I vaguely recall seeing them before, but I wasn’t able to find them in a quick search. I’ll keep a sharp eye out for twins in my other activities.

The second photo is of an unknown couple in swimming suits standing at a beach. Again, I do not know who they are, so I’ll keep an eye out for them in my future work.

Cropped.

Finally, is a badly damaged photo of a woman sitting next to the stairs leading to the porch of a house. She is wearing something of a sailor blouse and the house next door appears to have a “beach” porch. Again, I’ll add her to my unknown photos.

Discover you family history through historical newspapers at Newspapers.com

Actions

I updated Donna’s Career History with the following (new information in bold):

  • July 23 – 31 – Swiss Gardens, Cincinnati, OH See Illinois Digital Newspaper DDC-54
  • August 20, 1926 – Chicago, Illinois – American Theatre – DDC-54

I also put the three photos into my “unknown subjects” folder.