Tom Drake

Active - 1940 - 1975  |   Born - Aug 5, 1918   |   Died - Aug 11, 1982   |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Crime, War, Romance

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American actor Tom Drake inaugurated his acting career in 1938 with Clean Beds, a Broadway-bound play that closed out of town. A revived Clean Beds in 1939 brought Drake to the attention of MGM, who only half-heartedly promoted the actor, usually casting him in bits or secondary roles. His chance at stardom in White Cliffs of Dover (1944) was squelched when Drake's scenes were cut from that still-overlong wartime drama. A better opportunity came in the role of Judy Garland's "boy next door" vis-a-vis in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944); this was followed by an even meatier part in The Green Years (1946), in which Drake managed to keep his head above water despite such formidable supporting acting talent as Hume Cronyn, Charles Coburn, Jessica Tandy and Gladys Cooper. Unfortunately, the good roles began diminishing shortly afterward; Drake's performance as Richard Rodgers in Words and Music (1948) was knocked out of the box by Mickey Rooney's tyro interpretation of Lorenz Hart, while in Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949) everybody in the cast - including Shirley Temple - played second fiddle to Clifton Webb. Never able to fulfill his potential, Drake continued into the '70s playing subordinate roles in 'A' pictures, the occasional lead in low-budget films, and secondary TV parts in such productions as Marcus Welby MD and The Return of Joe Forrester. A classic example of how talented people could fall between the tracks of the studio contract system, Tom Drake spent his final years supplementing his performing income with a job as a used car salesman.

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