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This Day in WWII 23 March 1942 - 1945


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chevroletadmarch1943.jpg Chevrolet Ad - March 1943

1942: During World War II, the U.S. government began moving Japanese-Americans from their West Coast homes to detention centers.

1942: The British convoy, have escaped serious damage are approaching Malta. However, it is here that they come under concentrated air attack which sinks 1 freighter and damages another, although the other two freighters make it safely in to the port of Valleta. However, air attacks against the docks at Valletta made it very difficult to unload.

donadrake.jpg *Dona Drake

1942: The Japanese occupy the Anadaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.

1942: Port Moresby is again attacked by Japanese aircraft.

donadrake2.jpg Dona Drake

1945: The RAF launches a devastating raid (300 bombers) against Hildesheim near Hannover, a small city of little military and industrial importance.

1945: The U.S. Third Army crosses the Rhine North of Worms, as the British Second and Canadian First Armies begin their assault across the Rhine above the Ruhr.

donadrake4.jpg Dona Drake

1945: The Russian reach the outskirts of Danzig and Gotenhafen.

1945: Colonel Benjamin O. Davis prepares to fly cover with the 332nd Fighter Group on a bombing mission over Berlin. Davis will later become the first African-American to be promoted to the rank of Major General.

donadrake3.jpg Dona Drake

*Dona Drake was born Eunice Westmoreland in Miami, Florida on November 15, 1914, one of five children of Joseph Andrew Westmoreland of Arkansas and his wife, Novella Smith of Alabama. Studio publicity will later claim she was born in Mexico City in 1920. Entering show business in the 1930s, she used the names Una Velon, Rita Rio and Rita Shaw. In early 1940 she toured - as Rita Rio - with her "All Girl Orchestra" with actresses Marie Wilson and Toby Wing (who was essentially retired) and Faith Bacon (from the Earl Carroll Vanities) across the United States. The actresses made numerous appearances for the Infantile Paralysis Fund and Tuberculosis campaign during the tour.

She settled on the stage name Dona Drake in the early 1940s. Studio publicity during her heyday incorrectly stated that Drake was of Mexican origin and was born Rita Novella. (Novella was actually her mother's first name.)

Because of her dark hair and Latin-looking features, Drake generally played Latin or other "ethnic" types. She is probably best known for playing the American Indian maid of Bette Davis in "Beyond the Forest". She also appeared as an Arab girl opposite Bob Hope in "Road to Morocco" in 1942. Her biggest "non-ethnic" role was the second female lead in "The Girl from Jones Beach," playing opposite Eddie Bracken.

On April 23rd, 1943 is on the cover of Yank, The Army Weekly.

In 1944 while filming "Hot Rhythm", her friend, actress Joan Blondell, is introduced her to young designer William Travilla. On August 19th, 1944 marries Travilla and concentrates on married life. Her daughter, Nia Novella, is born in Los Angeles on August 16th 1951. In 1954 Dona retires from film and resides with her family at 3241 North Knoll Drive, Los Angeles.

Dona Drake dies on June 20th, 1989 as Dona D. Travilla, at age 74 in Los Angeles, California, from pneumonia and respiratory failure.

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