Betsy Drake, Actor, Writer, Psychodramatist, Children's Therapist, Director of the Psychodrama Therapy Department, Thalian's Mental Health Clinic, Cedar Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles (1976-unknown), Private Practitioner in Psychodrama, died in London at the age of 92.
11-9-1923 – 27-10-2015
When actress Betsy Drake gave up her career to become a housewife, the role never really clicked. The husband she sought so desperately to please was Cary Grant. And though he was deemed one of the world’s most desirable men, he ‘‘ often fell asleep after dinner and preferred television to talking with me,’’ she said in a filing for her 1962 divorce.
His infatuation with Sophia Loren did not help but Drake’s hopes for a conventional life with him might have been a stretch in the first place. She had a tormented childhood, at one point living in a Chicago hotel suite with a nanny while her wealthy parents lived in another hotel.
Seeking answers through psychotherapy, she was an early devotee of LSD and introduced Grant to the hallucinogenic drug. She ultimately turned her back on Hollywood, studying to become a children’s therapist specializing in psychodrama. ‘‘ I divorced the whole town as well as Cary — and they divorced me,’’ she said.
Drake, who has died in London at 92, appeared in about 10 films . Her first , ironically, was entitled Every Girl Should Be Married (1948), a comedy in which her character devises outlandish schemes to hook Grant as a husband. Her last was ‘‘ Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion’ ’ (1965).
For years during her marriage, she chose not to work. ‘‘ I couldn’t be an actress and a housewife too,’’ she told gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in 1965, three years after her divorce. ‘‘ Because of Cary I became a good cook, and I think I’ll be a marvellous wife for someone else.’’
Born in Paris, Drake was the daughter of American expatriates. Her father, Carlos Drake, wrote short stories and ran an exclusive travel agency. Hit hard by the 1929 stock market crash, the Drakes returned to the family businesses, the Drake and Blackstone hotels in Chicago. Betsy attended 12 schools around the US before becoming an actress and model in her late teens.
In 1947, she drew Grant’s attention when she performed on stage in London as the lead in director Elia Kazan’s ‘‘ Deep Are The Roots.’’ Their rapport grew when they returned to the US as fellow passengers on the Queen Mary.
Their 1949 marriage in Palm Springs, California, was front-page news with Howard Hughes, a close friend of Grant’s , serving as best man. It would be the most durable of Grant’s five marriages.
After the couple separated in 1958, Drake started seeing a Beverly Hills psychotherapist , who prescribed therapy with LSD, which was legal at the time. In her first session, she experienced the pain of her own birth.
Looking back on her marriage, Drake said: ‘‘ All the women in my generation were brought up to believe that husbands’ careers and desires came first in every sense. I drank white wine because Cary liked white wine. And I ate well-done roast beef, even though I hated well-done meat. The freedom to eat rare meat, drink red wine and not watch television made up for the agony of divorce.’’
For decades, Drake lived alone in London, wrote poetry, painted, and, well into her 80s, rode her bicycle. She never remarried and had no children.
Los Angeles Times
This article is from the November 24 issue of The Age Digital Edition.