Frances Drake

Frances Drake (born Frances Morgan Dean, October 22, 1912 – January 18, 2000)[1] was an American actress, best known for playing Eponine in Les Misérables (1935).[2]

Frances Drake
Frances Morgan Dean

(1912-10-22)October 22, 1912
DiedJanuary 18, 2000(2000-01-18) (aged 87)
Years active1933–1942
Spouse(s)Lt. the Hon. Cecil John Arthur Howard
(m. 1939–1985; his death)
David Brown
(m. 1992–2000; her death)

Early years

Drake was born in New York City as Frances Morgan Dean to a wealthy family. She was educated at Havergal College in Canada and at age 14 "she was sent to school in England, under her grandmother's wing."[3] She was there when the stock market crashed in 1929.


Needing to make money for the first time in her life, Drake became a dancer and stage actress and found that film paid even better.[4] In 1933, she explained: "I met an actor in London -- Gordon Wallace, who was in Eva Le Gallienne's repertory company for a while -- and he asked me to form a dance team with him. We danced, and a stage producer asked us to take parts in a play. Then I was invited to make films in England."[5]

She returned to the United States in 1934,[6] Offered a contract by Paramount, which changed her name to Frances Drake (after the studio initially wanted her new name to be Marianne Morel)[3] to avoid confusion with the then-popular star Frances Dee. She was coached by opera singer and actress Marguerite Namara while continuing in film. She was often typecast in "damsel in distress" roles and appeared in proto-horror and proto-sci-fi films opposite stars like Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre.[2] One film reference book summed up Drake's career as follows: "She played leads in many Hollywood productions of the '30s, often as the terrified heroine of horror and mystery tales."[6]

Personal life

On February 12, 1939, Drake married Cecil Howard (19081985), second son of Henry Howard, 19th Earl of Suffolk. Howard disapproved of her career, and she retired from the screen when he received his inheritance.[6] After Howard's death in 1985, she married David Brown in 1992;[7] he died in 2009.


She has a star in the Motion Picture section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard.

She has a school named after her in Leominster, Massachusetts. [8]


Drake died in Irvine, California on January 18, 2000, aged 87.[9] She is interred in Section 8 Garden of Legends in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California.[10]



  1. Social Security Death Index. Although some sources say 1908, the Social Security Death Index indicates Frances D. Howard was born on October 22, 1912 and died on January 17, 2000
  2. ""Frances Drake - Biography"". IMDB.
  3. Coons, Robbin (September 27, 1935). "Hollywood Sights and Sounds". West Virginia, Beckley. The Raleigh Register. p. 4. Retrieved February 12, 2016 via
  4. Yockel, Michael. "Actress Frances Drake, 91, Checks Out".
  5. "Seeks to Lose English Twang". Pennsylvania, Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Times. December 8, 1933. p. 8. Retrieved February 12, 2016 via
  6. Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2. P. 358.
  7. Bergan, Ronald (January 31, 2000). "Obituary: Frances Drake: Beauty who quit movies for her aristocrat husband". England, London. The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2016.  via General OneFile (subscription required)
  9. Vallance, Tom (January 25, 2000). "Obituary: Frances Drake". England, London. The Independent. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  10. "Frances Drake". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
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