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“Dona Drake was a black actress, singer, and dancer who was famous in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. However, publicly, her fans would not learn of her African ancestry until years later after studio publicity inaccurately claimed that she was born Rita Novella in 1920 in Mexico City, giving the impression that she was of Mexican heritage. In actual fact, she was born November 15, 1914 in Florida to Joseph Westmoreland (of Arkansas) and Novella Smith (of Alabama) and they named her Eunice Westmoreland. U.S Census reports of her family history show her grandparents were one Black couple and one couple that was Black/White. Because of her features and dark curly hair, film makers often cast her when they needed to fill the role of an ethnic character that looked native, gypsy, or middle eastern.”
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