Frances Morgan Dean
October 22, 1912
New York City, U.S.
|Died||January 18, 2000 (aged 87)|
Irvine, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Lt. the Hon. Cecil John Arthur Howard |
(m. 1939–1985; his death)
(m. 1992–2000; her death)
Drake was born in New York City as Frances Morgan Dean to a wealthy family. She was educated at Havergal College in Canada and at age 14 "she was sent to school in England, under her grandmother's wing." She was there when the stock market crashed in 1929.
Needing to make money for the first time in her life, Drake became a dancer and stage actress and found that film paid even better. In 1933, she explained: "I met an actor in London -- Gordon Wallace, who was in Eva Le Gallienne's repertory company for a while -- and he asked me to form a dance team with him. We danced, and a stage producer asked us to take parts in a play. Then I was invited to make films in England."
She returned to the United States in 1934 and was offered a contract by Paramount, which changed her name to Frances Drake (after the studio initially wanted her new name to be Marianne Morel to avoid confusion with the then-popular star Frances Dee). She was coached by opera singer and actress Marguerite Namara while continuing in film. She was often typecast in "damsel in distress" roles and appeared in proto-horror and proto-sci-fi films opposite stars like Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre. One film reference book summed up Drake's career as follows: "She played leads in many Hollywood productions of the '30s, often as the terrified heroine of horror and mystery tales."
On February 12, 1939, Drake married Cecil Howard (1908–1985), second son of Henry Howard, 19th Earl of Suffolk. Howard disapproved of her career, and she retired from the screen when he received his inheritance. After Howard's death in 1985, she married David Brown in 1992; he died in 2009.
She has a school named after her in Leominster, Massachusetts. 
- The Jewel (1933) - Jenny Day / Lady Joan
- No dejes la puerta abierta (1933) - Modelo
- Meet My Sister (1933) - Helen Sowerby
- Bolero (1934) - Leona
- The Trumpet Blows (1934) - Chulita
- Ladies Should Listen (1934) - Anna Mirelle
- Forsaking All Others (1934) - Connie Barnes Todd
- Transient Lady (1935) - Dale Cameron
- Les Miserables (1935) - Eponine
- Mad Love (1935) - Yvonne Orlac
- Without Regret (1935) - Mona Gould
- The Invisible Ray (1936) - Diana Rukh
- The Preview Murder Mystery (1936) - Peggy Madison
- Florida Special (1936) - Marina Landon
- And Sudden Death (1936) - Betty Winslow
- I'd Give My Life (1936) - Mary Reyburn
- Midnight Taxi (1937) - Gilda Lee
- You Can't Have Everything (1937) - Pamela Beaumont
- She Married an Artist (1937) - Sally Dennis
- Love Under Fire (1937)
- There's Always a Woman (1938) - Anne Calhoun
- The Lone Wolf in Paris (1938) - Princess Thania of Arvonne
- It's a Wonderful World (1939) - Vivian Tarbel
- I Take This Woman (1940) - Lola Estermont
- The Affairs of Martha (1942) - Sylvia Norwood (final film role)
- Social Security Death Index. Although some sources say 1908, the Social Security Death Index indicates Frances D. Howard was born on October 22, 1912, and died on January 17, 2000
- ""Frances Drake - Biography"". IMDB.
- Coons, Robbin (September 27, 1935). "Hollywood Sights and Sounds". West Virginia, Beckley. The Raleigh Register. p. 4. Retrieved February 12, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Yockel, Michael. "Actress Frances Drake, 91, Checks Out".
- "Seeks to Lose English Twang". Pennsylvania, Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Times. December 8, 1933. p. 8. Retrieved February 12, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
- Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2. P. 358.
- Bergan, Ronald (January 31, 2000). "Obituary: Frances Drake: Beauty who quit movies for her aristocrat husband". England, London. The Guardian. Retrieved February 12, 2016. – via General OneFile (subscription required)
- Vallance, Tom (January 25, 2000). "Obituary: Frances Drake". England, London. The Independent. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
- "Frances Drake". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved February 12, 2016.