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May 1, 2023

Beautiful Photos of Dona Drake in the 1940s

Born 1914 as Eunice Westmoreland in Miami, Florida, American singer, dancer and actress Dona Drake began performing in 1932, working under the name Una Villon as a chorus girl and in nightclubs. As Una Villon, she appeared in Earl Carroll’s Vanities in 1933. She began using the name Rita Rio in 1935, and settled on the stage name Dona Drake in the early 1940s.

Her striking, angular features and dark curly hair led her to being cast as an ethnic character, such as a Latina, Middle Easterner, American Indian, or Gypsy. Drake is perhaps best known for playing the American Indian maid of Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest. She also appeared as the Arab girl Mihirmah, opposite Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in Road to Morocco in 1942. In 1944, she appeared as a lead role as a big band singer in a B-movie titled Hot Rhythm, which also featured Irene Ryan (Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies) as a ditsy secretary.

Drake had a notable “non-ethnic”, non-musical role as the second female lead in the 1949 comedy The Girl from Jones Beach, playing opposite Eddie Bracken. The year before, she gave a memorable comic performance as the fortune-hunting sister in So This Is New York.

Drake died of pneumonia and respiratory failure in Los Angeles, California in 1989, at the age of 74. Take a look at these vintage photos to see the beauty of young Dona Drake in the 1940s.


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