With his deep, baritone, vocals, Alfred Drake (born: Alfred Capurro) reigned over Broadway during the 1940s and GÇÿ50s. Best known for his portrayal of Curly in Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1943 musical, [RoviLink="VW"]Oklahoma, he debuted such classic songs as "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning", "Surrey With A Fringe On Top", "People Will Say We're In Love" and the title tune.
Drake appeared in some of the era's most influential productions. Making his stage debut in [RoviLink="VW"]Mikado, in 1935, he starred, with Mitzi Green and Ray Heatherton, in [RoviLink="VW"]Babes In Arms, two years later. With music composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and choreographed by George Balanchine, [RoviLink="VW"]Babes In Arms was one of few musicals to be successfully staged at the height of the Depression.
The 1930s offered only a hint of Drake's versatility. In the 1940s, he co-starred, with Burl Ives, in a folk musical, [RoviLink="VW"]Sing Out Sweet Land", in 1944, portrayed a union organizer in a revival of Marc Blitzstein's [RoviLink="VW"]The Cradle Will Rock in 1947 and appeared in an updated version of [RoviLink="VW"]The Beggar's Opera, composed by Duke Ellington. He capped the decade as star of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate.
Drake continued to find interesting roles in the 1950s and early-60s. Although he turned down an offer to portray the lead in [RoviLink="VW"]The King And I, in 1951, he showed his strength in the role when he substituted for Yul Brynner for several weeks. He received a Tony award for his portrayal of Hadji, a street poet who becomes Wazir of Baghdad, in the 1953 folktale, [RoviLink="VW"]Kismet, and made his television debut, in 1957, in a [RoviLink="VW"]Hallmark Hall Of Fame production of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta, [RoviLink="VW"]Yeomen Of The Guard. He appeared, with Richard Burton, in John Gielgud's [RoviLink="VW"]Hamlet, in 1964.
Making his final Broadway appearance, in a 1973 revival of [RoviLink="VW"]Gigi, Drake continued to make occasional appearances in films, including [RoviLink="VW"]Trading Places in 1983, and television for the remainder of his life. With his passing on July 25, 1992, Broadway lost one of its greatest leading men. ~ Craig Harris
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