Last year saw the passing of two actresses of the 1940s and 50s, who, while they didn’t set the screen on fire, still made an impact. Betsy Drake and Betsy Palmer.
Betsy Drake, whose wispy voice graced half a dozen films, is best remembered for her personal life. She met Cary Grant, married him and he promoted her career and starred with her in two films. They also had a radio series for one season. The couple stayed married for 10 years, although they were separated for the last few, and they remained friends until his death.
Drake is credited with introducing Grant to LSD. And Grant said she broadened his interests in other areas besides his career. After her retirement from films she went back to college and earned a Masters degree in Education.
She was an accomplished writer as well. She supposedly wrote the script for Houseboat as a vehicle for herself and Grant. BUT his affair with Sophia Loren upended that plan and the film was rewritten and she received no screen credit. Ironically, by the time filming started on Houseboat the affair had ended.
Drake was a passenger on the ill fated Andrea Doria and was rescued, along with about 700 others.
One of her last public appearances was on a documentary about Grant. She dispelled rumors about his supposed bisexuality by declaring that during their marriage they “f….ed like bunnies.”
Betsy Palmer is remembered more as a TV star than a film star. She was a regular on I’ve Got a Secret. But in her early days she was in a few top films, most notably, Mister Roberts and the Joan Crawford starrer, Queen Bee.
Later in her career she appeared in Friday the 13th. Palmer said she only took the part cause she needed the money and she never thought anyone would go the see the “piece of sh…” But of course after the success of the horror movie she did agree to do a cameo in the sequel
Palmer’s best work was in the early days of TV drama. She was in the original television production of Marty, and she appeared opposite Jackie Gleason in The Time of Your Life.
An interesting footnote. Both Betsys were members of the famed Actor’s Studio.