The Many Talents of Dona Drake

Dona Drake

Dona Drake was a talented singer, bandleader, dancer and film actress in the 1930's and 40s.  Along with her many talents, Dona also compiled quite a collection of stage names through her career.

Born as Eunice Westmoreland in November of 1914, Dona performed under the following aliases:
  • Dona Drake
  • Una Novella
  • Rita Novella
  • Rita Rio
  • Una Velon
  • Una Villon
  • Rita Shaw

For the majority of her musical endeavors she used the names Rita Rio and Dona Drake, so throughout rest of this article I will refer to her by using one of those two names.  Confused yet? 😃

She began using the name Rita Rio in 1935, when she was featured at the Paradise Cabaret on Broadway. Besides singing and dancing, she sometimes played piano, trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, drums and occasionally led the orchestra. In 1936, she and another woman formed an all-girl orchestra as a publicity stunt entitled “Rita Rio and her Rhythm Girls.”

The bands she led in the late 1930's and early 1940's are hard for me to critique.  The band's line-up always seemed to be in flux. Some recordings are really impressive while others seem very stiff and unoriginal.  Now remember,  I'm talking about the band.  Rita Rio herself was a talented, beautiful, firecracker.  Her stage presence was top shelf and she truly had a gift when it came to combining her musical and acting experience into her performances. 


At some point in the early 1940's she settled on the stage name Dona Drake and toured the United States as "Dona Drake and her Girl Band".  During this time she was also starting to receive more offers from Hollywood and began her transition from bandleader to film actress.



Dona Drake was truly a great talent and I'm going to make it a point to check out some of her many film appearances. 

The Many Looks of Dona Drake...

If you think Dona Drake had a lot of aliases, well here's some news for you, she had even more looks.  Do a Google Images search, you'll be amazed.  Here's just a few:


Picture of Dona Drake

Picture of Dona Drake

Picture of Dona Drake

Picture of Dona Drake


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