Alfred Drake

Alfred Drake
Born Alfred Capurro
(1914-10-07)October 7, 1914
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died July 25, 1992(1992-07-25) (aged 77)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor, singer
Spouse(s) Alma Tollefsen (divorced)
Esther Harvey Brown (1944 – his death; 2 children)

Alfred Drake (October 7, 1914 - July 25, 1992) was an American actor and singer.


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. However, one notable film appearance came in 1982 at the conclusion of "Trading Places," where Drake, with evident relish as president of the stock exchange, informs the movie's antagonists that they are broke. 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.

As a director he staged the 1974 premiere of The Royal Rape of Ruari Macasmunde at the Virginia Museum Theater. He was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.[1]

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).[2]


Alfred Drake died of heart failure, after a long fight with cancer, in New York City at the age of 77.[3]

Family life

Alfred Drake is survived by his wife Esther, his two daughters Candace Olmsted and Samantha Drake, and two grandchildren.[3]

Theatre credits



  1. "26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame", New York Times, March 3, 1981.
  2. Anyone Can Win at Gin Rummy and Canasta by Alfred Drake (c) 1949 Avon Books.
  3. 1 2 Alfred Drake obituary,, July 26, 1992; accessed March 24, 2016.
  4. Kirby, Walter (April 27, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved May 9, 2015 via

External links

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