Donna in the News – Seven New Venues

Chin Chin
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 advertising regarding my grandmother, Madonna Montran (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 I researched “Chin Chin,” the show Donna joined in October 1919, while it was already on tour. Thanks to Newspapers.com, I was able to learn of seven new appearances of “Chin Chin.”

Date in 1919 Theatre Location
Nov 1 Chatterton Opera House Bloomington, IL
Nov 3 Plumb Theatre Streator, IL
Nov 4 Dixon Opera House Dixon, IL
Nov 5 Greene’s Cedar Rapids, IA
Nov 6 Berchel Des Moines, IA
Nov 21 Sterling Theater or
Rex Theatre[i]
Greeley, CO
Dec 9 Arcade Theatre La Grande, OR

The Greeley showing was an exciting find because the theater wasn’t identified. On November 27, 1919, the Windsor Beacon (Windsor, CO) reported:

The Windsor Beacon, Windsor, CO – Nov 27, 1919

MANY TAKE IN SHOW AT
   GREELEY FRIDAY NIGHT
—–

“Chin Chin” was the attraction which took many Windsor people to Greeley last Friday night. Among those known to have attended were:

Dr. and Mrs. T. B. Gormly…

(Note: Windsor is about ten miles northwest of Greeley.)

Followup

The 1921 Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide reports Both the “Republican” and the “Tribune” as newspapers that serviced Greeley. I’ll need to find sources for those newspapers when I write more about “Chin Chin” playing in Greeley.

Because of those newly available online articles, I was able to add another seven venues for Donna’s “Chin Chin” tour.

New information added to her career list:

    • Nov 1, 1919 – Bloomington, IL – Chatterton Opera House
    • Nov 3, 1919 – Streator, IL – Plumb
    • Nov 4, 1919 – Dixon, IL – Dixon Opera House
    • Nov 5, 1919 – Cedar Rapids, IA – Greene’s
    • Nov 6, 1919 – Des Moines, IA – Berchel
    • Nov 21, 1919 – Greeley, Colorado – (Sterling or Rex Theatre)
    • Dec 9, 1010 – Arcade Theatre – La Grande, Oregon

– – – Disclaimer – – –


Endnotes

[i] Vaudeville Trails Thru the West “By one who knows” – Herbert Lloyd, page 98, reports only one theatre in Greeley, Colorado, the Sterling Theatre. It indicates the Sterling operated on Thursday for a 3PM matinee and an 8:15 PM night show. This could have been a special Friday night show. Alternately, the 1921 Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide for 1921 indicates that a second theater, the Rex Theatre, J. Lynch, Mgr. had a seating capacity of 800 and also played Traveling Companies.

When I first left home

My History, My Memories
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I was reading Randy Seaver’s Blog “Genea-Musings,” (http://www.geneamusings.com) where, in his blog, he asked, “When [did] You First Left Home.” He had five questions,

    1. When did you first leave your parents’ home? 
    2. Why did you leave? 
    3. Where did you move to? 
    4. What was it like? 
    5. What did you learn?

That is complicated to answer. An abusive stepfather complicated my life and my mother’s life. My mom left him several times. One of those times, we left him in Minneapolis and went west to Denver, Colorado. He convinced her that he had “changed,” and we returned to him in Minneapolis.

A few months later, I had had enough and ran away, this time by myself. I hopped on a bus by myself and headed for Denver. I had learned there was a circus operating there and intended to join it. (Yes, I really did “run away to join the circus.” On the bus, I fortuitously encountered a man that was returning to the circus. He had been a clown with the circus. He dissuaded me from joining that life. So, once I got to Denver, I didn’t join the circus. Instead, I got a room at a rooming house and a job at a nearby store. It was summer, but I registered for school in the fall and intended to live independently, go to school, and work enough to pay for food and a place to live. I was 14, living just off East Colfax, and working at a Safeway (I lied about my age) just a few blocks away from my rooming house. I was in Denver for about four weeks.

Then, one evening, I was walking home quite late and the police stopped me. I didn’t have any ID and they suspected I was underage, so they brought me in for a “curfew violation.” I didn’t want to give them my address, but after a few hours, I finally gave them 2419 Bryant. A few minutes later, a furious policeman came back to inform me they sent a car there, but there was no 2419 on Bryant. I thought I had been so cute, but they didn’t think it was funny. It was then I told them it was 2419 Bryant, Minneapolis (not Denver).

Apparently, they contacted the Minneapolis Police Department, because the next day, the police informed me that my “parents” were informed where I was, and they were going to have me fly back to Minneapolis. I don’t recall if it was the third or fourth day being in custody in Denver, but I was eventually taken to the Denver airport and put on a non-stop flight to Minneapolis. The social worker person told the flight crew I wasn’t to be allowed to slip out of the plane. The plane was met in Minneapolis by my mom and my stepfather.

I learned to not be cute, clever, or difficult with the police. I also learned making a life for yourself is difficult.

Things with my stepfather improved for a while. First, my stepfather didn’t get on me for a couple of months, then my parents bought a new house, and we moved to a temporary home for a few months while the new house was being built. While in that temporary house, one of my step-sisters lived with us. My stepfather was always “good” when she was around. Anyway, she returned to her mother’s about when we moved to the new house in the suburbs. It was several months before I ran away again, but that is another story.

Chin-Chin in the News – 16 November 1919 – Trinidad, CO – Unknown Theatre

Vaudeville/Chin-Chin

My grandmother was a vaudeville star and I am following her career, trying to learn of her many performances. In October 1919, she joined the cast of the Charles Dillingham production of “Chin-Chin” “Chin-Chin” played in the US and Canada until June 1920. I monitor several newspaper services watching for new venues that the show played while she was a cast member.

I recently received a notification from the folks at Elephind that they had added the “Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection to their searchable items. As such, I ran a quick search and had two new findings. The first entry is from the Denver Jewish News dated 5 November 1919. It was an ad for Chin Chin playing at the Broadway Theatre in Denver, a venue I had learned about previously.

The second article found was from the Walsenburg World dated 20 November 1919, Page 5, Column 3, Para 12, which read:

Walsenburg World – Nov 20, 1919 – Page 5, Column 3, Paragraph 12.

“Mr. and Mrs. George Blickhahn, Mr. and Mrs. James Flynn, Mrs. B. Gardner, Aldolph Unfug, Miss Clara Kincaid of La Veta, and Lois Sporleder all spent Sunday in Trinidad seeing ‘Chin Chin.’”

The previous Sunday would have been November 16, 1919. Trinidad is a small town about 40 miles southeast of Walsenburg and about 11 miles north of the New Mexico border.

It appears that the show may have been at West’s Theatre, however, I’ll need to confirm that with additional research. The show played in Denver from the 9th to the 15th, went south to Trinidad for the 16th then returned back north to Pueblo on the 18th and Colorado Springs on the 19th.

New Venue Added:

Nov 16, 1919 – Trinidad, Colorado – (Probably) West’s Theatre.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 74

Donna Darling Revue
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Collection that includes both a clipping and a photo.

Palm Theater – Pueblo, Colorado

Image DSCN1433 from the Donna Darling Collection – Note the 6th act was apparently cut off. 

Key features:

  • The venue is the Palm Theater – Pueblo’s Leading Theater – Always a Big Show. The show is “Today and Monday – 2 Big Days. And is part of the Western Association of Keithp-Albee Orpheum Circuit.
  • The show is a “Double Headliner Bill with the First Feature Ace — “Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark”
  • The Second Feature Act is “Orpheus Quintet in “Big Moments from Big Operas”
  • Also on bill:
    • Zuhn & Dreis – Dementus Americanos – A Feature Comedy Act Made For Laughing Purposes.
    • Curtis & Lawrence – Up to the Minute and a Minute Ahead in “Is That the Custom.”
    • Morrell & Elynor – Beauty-Grace-Speed 0 Introducing the Charleston on Rollers.

Analysis

The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark began in May 1926. On September 17th and 18th, the show played at the Burns Theater in Colorado Springs and played on September 25th in El Paso, Texas. It is most likely that the show played in Pueblo on a date between the 18th and the 25th. The only Monday between those dates was Monday, September 20th, so it appears that the show played in Pueblo, CO, on September 19th and 20th.

I looked for newspapers on Newspapers.Com, Genealogy Bank, NewspaperArchive.com, and other sites via The Ancestor Hunt to prove that date; however, I was unable to find any papers for Pueblo in 1926 available online. However, I did discover that the Donna Darling Revue played at the Grand Theater in Douglas, Arizona on September 27th.

Photo of Sammy

Unknown woman & Sammy Clark – ca. 1926.

On the same page in the Donna Darling Collection as the Palm Theater clipping is a photo of an unknown woman and Sammy Clark. It must be from sometime between 1926 and 1928, with 1926 as the most likely. It is nice to have another photo of Sammy. I’ll keep an eye out for any other photos showing this unidentified woman.

Conclusion

September 19 & 20, 1926 – The Palm Theater, Pueblo, Colorado – “The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark.”

September 27, 1926 – The Grand Theater, Douglas, Arizona – “The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark.”

A day I learn of two more dates and venues for Donna’s Vaudeville Career is a good day.

Sources

Douglas Daily Dispatch, 1926-09-17 – Page 6 via Genealogy Bank.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 21

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.The Burns Theatre, Colorado Springs, CO

For Treasure Chest Thursday, I looked at three clippings from the Donna Darling Collection which mention The Burns Theater. I love it when there are handwritten notes with photos and Donna’s notes made analyzing these clippings quite easy. One clipping mentions “Colorado Springs” and the other says Barnes Theatre – Colo. Springs Sept 17-18.

 

 

I have cropped, edited, and sized these images for the web.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Barnes Theatre, Colorado Springs, Co. The theatre was part of the Western Vaudeville Managers’ Association.
  • The show is the “Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark”
  • Seven other acts were on the bill and also had three shows daily.
    • Billy Curtis and Lou Lawrence in “Is That The Custom?”
    • Bozo Fox & Company – Vaudeville’s Latest Surprise
    • Morrell and Blynor – Beauty, Grace, Speed
    • Nick Pallizi – The Wizard of the Accordeon [sic]
    • O’Brien Sisters and Mack – Bits of Musical Comedy Hits
    • Princess Winona – Indian Prima Donna
    • Zuhn and Dreis – Dementus Americanos Habitat North America

Analysis

From other research, I know that the “Donna Darling Review [sic] with Sammy Clark” was a 1926 show.  On September 7th, 1926, the show played in Alton, IL and on October 9, 1926, the show played in Santa Ana, California so its playing in Colorado Springs on September 17 and 18 makes sense.

Conclusion

Sept 17, 18, 1926 – Colorado Springs, CO – Burns Theatre – Donna Darling Review

Note:

Donna played at the Burns Theater previously during her Chin Chin performances.  See: Donna in Colorado Springs, CO, November 19, 1919, at the Burns Theatre.