Treading the boards
Though his lack of a film career hindered his fame, Drake was the American musical theater’s great singing dramatic actor. His breakthrough role was Curly in the original production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” (1943). By following it with the parts of Fred Graham in Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate” (1948), Hajj in “Kismet” (1953) and the title role in “Kean” (1961), he ensured an unshakable place in American musical theater history. He also played Claudius opposite Richard Burton in John Gielgud’s famous Broadway production of “Hamlet” (1964) and landed a memorable cameo in pic “Trading Places” (1983).