Drake photographed by Carl Van Vechten in 1951
October 7, 1914
New York City, U.S.
|Died||July 25, 1992 (aged 77)|
New York City
Alfred Drake (October 7, 1914 - July 25, 1992) was an American actor and singer.
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Born as Alfred Capurro in New York City, the son of parents emigrated from Recco, Genoa, Drake began his Broadway career while still a student at Brooklyn College. He is best known for his leading roles in the original Broadway productions of Oklahoma!; Kiss Me, Kate; Kismet; and for playing Marshall Blackstone in the original production of Babes in Arms, (in which he sang the title song) and Hajj in Kismet, for which he received the Tony Award. He was also a prolific Shakespearean, notably starring as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing opposite Katharine Hepburn.
Drake was mostly a stage and television actor; he starred in only one film, Tars and Spars (1946), but played several roles on television, including providing the voice for the Great Ak in the Rankin-Bass stop-motion animated adaptation of the L. Frank Baum novel The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. He appeared in a minor film role as president of the stock exchange in the classic comedy Trading Places (1983), with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. His first musical television appearance was as Captain Dick Warrington in the January 15, 1955 live telecast of the operetta Naughty Marietta. His 1964 stage performance as Claudius in the Richard Burton Hamlet was filmed live on the stage of the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, using a "quickie" process called Electronovision, and shown in movie theatres in a very limited engagement. It was also recorded on LP. His final stage appearance in a musical was in 1973 as Honore LaChaisse in Lerner and Loewe's Gigi. Two years later he starred in a revival of The Skin of Our Teeth.
He was also a published author - writing at least a few plays: Dr. Willy Nilly, an adaptation of Molière's The Doctor in Spite of Himself, an adaptation of Goldoni's The Liar, and even at least one book on cards (specifically Gin rummy).
Alfred Drake died of heart failure, after a long fight with cancer, in New York City at the age of 77.
Alfred Drake is survived by his wife Esther, his two daughters Candace Olmsted and Samantha Drake, and two grandchildren.