Coralee (Cora Lee, Coco) Burson Davis is a Pasadena Junior College alumnus. She was one of a select group of women who served
in the military during World War II and performed in Tars and Spars, a touring Coast Guard musical production.
Born in 1921 in Eagle Rock, California, Davis was raised in Pasadena, California by her mother and grandparents. As an 11th
grader, in 1937 she enrolled at Pasadena Junior College which under the relatively new 6-4-4 educational system included grades
11-14. According to an article in the March 1939 issue of the "Campix" PJC's magazine, Coralee Burson whose photo was featured
on the cover, liked drama and performed leading roles in many of the campus' live stage productions. She was popular among
the PJC social groups and was seen at many PJC dances.
After graduating from high school Davis worked for a brief period at Lockheed Aircraft and then in 1942 when she turned 21,
joined the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARs-“Sempar Paratus—Always Ready”). During her four years with SPARs, in addition
to typing at the Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington D.C., she also delivered recruitment speeches and did radio interviews.
She is best known however for being cast in the Coast Guard show “Tars and Spars” performing alongside actor/dancer Gower
Champion. In 1945 Hollywood produced a full-length feature film of the same title. She was involved in this production as
well and concluded her term with SPARs when her obligations for the film ended in 1946.
Following her enlistment with SPARs, Davis pursued a career in acting and modeling. In 1948 she married Walter Rathbun. They
both had active theater careers until her husband passed away in 1952. Davis then left California ending up in San Juan,
Puerto Rico where, in 1956, she met and married Horace Davis. They made their home in Washington D.C. until 1963 when they
moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, and opened a travel agency.
For more biographical information on Coralee Burson Davis please go to UNCG's (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
Digital Collection, Women Veterans Historical Project, “WV0222 Coralee Burson Davis Papers” at: http://libcdm1.uncg.edu/cdm/search/collection/WVHP/searchterm/81/field/old/mode/all/conn/and/order/nosort
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