b. Tamara Drasin, c.1910, Sorochintzy, Ukraine, d. 22 February 1943, near Lisbon, Portugal. Educated mainly in the USA, Tamara appeared in the revue The New Yorkers (1927, not the Cole Porter show) and was in Crazy Quilt (which starred Fanny Brice) and Free For All (both 1931), Americana (1932), Roberta (1933, introducing Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach’s ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’), Right This Way (1938, singing Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal’s ‘I Can Dream Can’t I?’ and Brad Greene and Marianne Brown Waters’ ‘Don’t Listen To Your Heart’), and Leave It To Me! (1938, in which she sang Cole Porter’s ‘Get Out Of Town’, also singing duets with William Gaxton on ‘From Now On’ and ‘Far, Far Away’). Before and during her Broadway years, Tamara sang in cabaret, first at Russian restaurants in New York, later at some of the city’s fancier night spots. Throughout her career Tamara, who was billed only by her forename, was sometimes confused with other similarly named Russian artists who appeared in New York, especially ballerina Tamara Geva.
Tamara’s film career began with Live And Let Laugh (1933, aka Geleb Un Gelakht), a Yiddish-language film directed by Sidney M. Golin and featuring Max Wilner, who also co-wrote and co-directed. She was then in Sweet Surrender (1935), directed by Monte Brice from Herbert Fields’ screenplay, with songs by Dana Suesse and Edward Heyman. Co-starring with Frank Parker, who was noted, rather oddly, as Radio’s Best Dressed Man, Tamara plays multiple roles, one of which is Delphine, a famous ballerina; this despite having risen to Broadway fame as a singer. Close-ups of dance steps during ‘The Appassionata’ were of a real ballerina. In none of her roles in the film does Tamara sing, although two songs, which ended on the cutting room floor, might have been hers. Her third film, which proved to be her last, was the screen version of No, No Nanette (1940) in which she played Sonya. The star was Anna Neagle and the film was directed by Neagle’s husband, Herbert Wilcox. Also in the film were Richard Carlson, Victor Mature, Roland Young, Helen Broderick, ZaSu Pitts, Eve Arden and Billy Gilbert.
Early in 1943, Tamara and singer Jane Froman were on a USO tour to entertain troops in Europe. Their aircraft crashed into the River Tagus in Portugal. Froman was seriously injured in the crash; Tamara was one of 25 who were killed.