October 7, 1914
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||July 25, 1992
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Alma Tollefsen (divorced)
Esther Harvey Brown (1944 – his death; 2 children)
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 star; he starred in only one film, Tars and Spars, but played several roles on television. 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. He played the President of the Stock Exchange in the 1983 Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd film Trading Places. 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 is survived by his wife Esther, his two daughters Candace Olmsted and Samantha Drake, and two grandchildren.
Alfred Drake is remembered through an annual award given to an outstanding theater professional by the Brooklyn College Theater Department. The award is known as the Alfred Drake Award commemorating his service to the theater, and his time as a Brooklyn College student. Past recipients include producer Jordan Roth, playwright Sarah Ruhl, actors Cherry Jones and Olympia Dukakis, director Doug Hughes and designer John Lee Beatty.
- The Gondoliers (1935)
- The Yeomen of the Guard (1935)
- The Pirates of Penzance (1935)
- The Mikado (1935)
- White Horse Inn (1936)
- Babes in Arms (1937)
- The Two Bouquets (1938)
- One for the Money (1939)
- The Straw Hat Revue (1939)
- Two for the Show (1940)
- As You Like It (1941)
- Oklahoma! (1943)
- Sing Out, Sweet Land (1944)
- Beggar's Holiday (1946)
- The Cradle Will Rock (1947)
- Kiss Me, Kate (1948)
- Joy to the World (1948)
- The Liar (1950)
- Courtin' Time (1951) - rare outing as a director
- The King and I (1952)
- The Gambler (1952)
- Kismet (1953)
- Marco Polo (1954)
- Kean (1961)
- Zenda (1963)
- Lorenzo (1963)
- Hamlet (1964), directed by Sir John Gielgud, with Richard Burton as co-star
- Those That Play the Clowns (1966)
- Song of the Grasshopper (1967)
- Gigi (1973)
- The Royal Rape of Ruari Macasmunde (1974) directed by Drake at the Virginia Museum Theater with Keith Fowler as Sir Roger Casement
- The Skin of Our Teeth (1975)
- Gambler's Paradise (1975)
- Alfred Drake at the Internet Broadway Database
- Alfred Drake at the Internet Movie Database
- Alfred Drake — Broadway — The American Musical — Stars over Broadway
- Alfred Drake — Overview — AllMovie
- Alfred Drake — Britannica Online Encyclopedia
- Alfred Drake performing in "Oklahoma!" on Broadway in 1943
- Alfred Drake and others — Who's Who in Musicals
- Alfred Drake Obituary — The New York Times
- Alfred Drake Obituary — The Independent, U.K.