Betsy Drake
Born(1923-09-11)September 11, 1923
Paris, France
DiedOctober 27, 2015(2015-10-27) (aged 92)
London, England
Other namesBetsy Drake Grant
EducationHarvard University, M.Ed.
Occupation(s)actress, writer, psychotherapist
Years active1948–1965
(m. 1949; div. 1962)

Betsy Drake (September 11, 1923 – October 27, 2015) was an American actress, writer and psychotherapist. She was the third wife of actor Cary Grant.

Early life and education

Betsy Drake, the eldest child of two American expatriates, was born in Paris. Her grandfather, Tracy Drake, and his brother had opened the Drake Hotel in Chicago on New Year's Eve in 1920.[1] The Drakes lost their money in the 1929 stock-market crash. As a result, she returned to the U.S. on the SS Île de France with her parents, brothers, and a nanny. She grew up in Chicago; Westport, Connecticut; Washington, DC; Virginia; North Carolina; and New York City. She went to 12 different schools, both private and public, before concentrating on theater and acting at National Park Seminary.


Cary Grant, Drake, and Dick Stabile in 1955

Drake began looking for work as an actress in New York City, supporting herself by working as a Conover model. She met the playwright Horton Foote, who offered her a job as an understudy in his play Only the Heart, which enabled her to join the Actors' Equity Association and thus become a professional actress.[2]

After coming to the attention of the producer Hal Wallis, Drake was pressured by her agent to sign a Hollywood contract. She hated Hollywood and managed to be released from the contract by declaring herself insane. She returned to New York City and, in 1947, read for the director Elia Kazan for the lead role in the London company of the play Deep Are the Roots. Later that year, Drake was selected by Kazan as one of the founding members of the Actors Studio.[3]

Cary Grant spotted her in 1947 while she was performing in London. The two, who both happened to be returning to the U.S. on the RMS Queen Mary, struck up an instant rapport. At the insistence of Grant, Drake was subsequently signed to a film contract by RKO Pictures and David Selznick, where she appeared, opposite Grant, in her first film, the romantic comedy Every Girl Should Be Married (1948). New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther called her performance “foxily amusing”.[4]

On Christmas Day 1949, Drake and Grant married in a private ceremony organized by Grant's best man, Howard Hughes, and chose a low-key, introspective private life. They delved into transcendentalism, mysticism, and yoga. She took up causes including the plight of homeless children in Los Angeles.[4] In 1954, they bought the "Las Palomas" estate in the Movie Colony neighborhood of Palm Springs, California.[5]

The couple co-starred in the radio series Mr. and Mrs. Blandings (1951).[6] They appeared together in the comedy drama Room for One More (1952), and Drake appeared in leading roles in England and the U.S., and a supporting role in the satiric comedy film Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957).

Drake wrote the original script for the film Houseboat (1958) under a pseudonym, basing it on an unpublished story she had written.[7][8] Starring Grant, Drake anticipated co-starring in the film. Grant, however, who began an affair with Sophia Loren while filming The Pride and the Passion (1957),[9] arranged for Loren to take Drake's place in Houseboat with a rewritten script for which Drake did not receive credit.[10] The affair ended in bitterness before The Pride and the Passion's filming ended, causing problems on the Houseboat set.[11]

Drake subsequently gave up acting and pursued other career interests. She earned a Master of Education degree from Harvard University[12][13] and became a children's therapist. Drake was a director of psychodrama at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, worked at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, and maintained a private therapy practice. She taught at UCLA, Pepperdine University,[14] and presented research at the 52nd Annual Meeting American Orthopsychiatric Association in 1975.[15] Under the name Betsy Drake Grant, her novel Children, You Are Very Little (1971) was published by Atheneum Books.[16]

Drake's last screen appearance was in the documentary film Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2005), in which she reflected on Grant and their time together, and denied rumors alleging he was bisexual.

Personal life

In July 1956, Drake survived the sinking of the Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria. At the time, she had been visiting Grant in Spain and was returning to the United States. She boarded it along with dozens of other wealthy travelers and tourists, at Gibraltar, which was one of many stops the ship made between her home port of Genoa and her final destination of New York City. Drake sailed as a first-class passenger, occupying a single cabin on the ship's boat deck. When the SS Andrea Doria collided with the Stockholm, Drake waited with the other passengers for rescue, as the ship's severe list rendered half of its lifeboats useless. She was among more than 700 people rescued from the ship by the famed French passenger liner SS Île de France.[17]

Grant and Drake separated in 1958, remaining friends, and divorced in 1962. Their marriage constituted his longest union. Grant credited her with broadening his interests beyond his career and with introducing him to the then-legal LSD therapy and to hypnosis. Later, Drake took LSD as a way of recovering from the trauma of divorce. Drake did not have children with Grant and did not remarry.[2]

Drake spent the latter part of her life in London, where she died, aged 92 on October 27, 2015.[18]


Television credits

See also


  1. ^ History, Drake Hotel, Retrieved 10 September 2016
  2. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (November 12, 2015). "Betsy Drake, 92, Actress Who Starred With (and Wed) Cary Grant, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  3. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Birth of The Actors Studio: 1947–1950". A Player's Place: The Story of the Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 52. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. Among the original twenty-six actors that Kazan selected were Jocelyn Brando, Joan Copeland, Betsy Drake, Lou Gilbert, Julie Harris, Steven Hill, Cloris Leachman, Nehemiah Persoff, and James Whitmore.
  4. ^ a b Bernstein, Adam (November 11, 2015). "Betsy Drake, actress and writer who married Cary Grant, dies at 92". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  5. ^ Wallace, David (2008). A City Comes Out: How Celebrities Made Palm Springs a Gay and Lesbian Paradise. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books. p. 192. ISBN 978-1569803493. LCCN 2008022210. OCLC 209646547. Archived from the original on April 4, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  6. ^ Bundy, Jane (February 3, 1951). "Television-Radio Reviews: Mr. and Mrs. Blandings". The Billboard. p. 8. Retrieved May 7, 2023.
  7. ^ Connolly, Mike (June 20, 1957). "Hollywood Isn't Hurt?". The Desert Sun. p. 4.
  8. ^ Barnes, Mike (November 10, 2015). "Betsy Drake, Actress and Third Wife of Cary Grant, Dies at 92". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  9. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (October 18, 2014). "Sophia Loren: how Cary Grant begged me to become his lover". The Guardian. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  10. ^ Thomson, David (January 14, 2020). Sleeping with Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 195. ISBN 978-1-101-97102-4.
  11. ^ Jaynes, Barbara Grant & Trachtenberg, Robert (2004). Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Burbank, California: Turner Classic Movies and Turner Entertainment.
  12. ^ Beauchamp, Cari; Balaban, Judy (August 2010). "Cary in the Sky with Diamonds". Vanity Fair: 4. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  13. ^ "Books: Disorder and Early Sorrow". Time. December 6, 1971. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  14. ^ Eyman, Scott (November 2, 2021). Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise. Simon and Schuster. p. 316. ISBN 978-1-5011-9139-8.
  15. ^ Drake, Betsy (March 1975). "Psychoanalytically Oriented Psychodrama with Multiple Family Groups". American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (s): 260–1 – via EBSCOhost.
  16. ^ Grant, Betsy Drake (1971). Children, you are very little. Internet Archive. New York, Atheneum.
  17. ^ "Betsy Drake, actress and wife of Cary Grant, survivor of Andrea Doria, dies aged 92". U.S. News & World Report Associated Press. November 12, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  18. ^ Barnes, Mike (November 10, 2015). "Betsy Drake, Actress and Third Wife of Cary Grant, Dies at 92". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 12, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2017.

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