Georgian Surnames


Tamara Tumanishvili (Toumanova)


Tamara Vladimirovna Tumanishvili (Toumanova) was born on March 2, 1919 in Tyumen, Siberia, Russia.

Tamara was born on a train while her mother was trying to flee Russia in search of her husband.They had become separated during the Revolution. Tamara was 18 months old before her parents were reunited. The family escaped from Russia to Shanghai, where they lived for a year, then moved to Cairo. After spending time in various refugees' camps the family eventually settled in Paris. Tamara studied ballet in Paris in 1924 and became a professional ballerina. She made her debut at the Paris Opera at the age of nine in L'Eventail de Jeanne.

In 1932 George Balanchine saw her in ballet class and engaged her for the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo as one of the three "Baby Ballerinas." Although all three were beautiful, Tamara was also glamorous and a real "diva." She came to be called "The Black Pearl of the Russian Ballet" and from then on, performed in ballets for the next 40 years.

Balanchine choreographed the part of the Young Girl for Tamara in his ballet Cotillon, and also starred her in his Concurrence and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.

Leonide Massine also worked closely with Tamara in the creation of many of his ballets. She played the part of the Top in his Jeux d'Enfants (which can be seen on film at the Library of the Performing Arts Dance Collection). Balanchine created a role for her in his Le Palais de Cristal (now Symphony in C) in 1947 at the Paris Opera.

As resident ballerina or as guest artist with many companies, Tamara danced most of the classic ballerina's roles in the ballet repertoire, partnered by many of the great male dancers of her day.

She made her Broadway debut in 1939 and her film debut in 1943's Days of Glory (1944), opposite Gregory Peck. That same year, Tamara married the film's producer, Casey Robinson.

Tamara also made movies: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Tonight We Sing (where she played Anna Pavlova), Deep in My Heart and in Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain.

Tamara died on May 29, 1996, in Santa Monica, California, USA.