Working in the Estate Sale industry in Los Angeles, it’s admittedly not unusual to find oneself learning about the life of a ridiculously inspiring client, but in the case of Betsy Drake—this lady has us swooning! Drake was a Hollywood actress whose real life was no less dramatic than her feature films and whose real persona far exceeded those of her silver screen characters in both depth and charm. Her Estate Sale was tremendous. Not only was the house full every day, but so many people came for her: to pay respect, to share memories and stories, or because they were admirers. Betsy touched many lives and remains incredibly inspiring. Today we’re honoring her with a look at the 5 Most Intriguing Roles of Betsy Drake.

Working in the Estate Sale industry in Los Angeles, it’s admittedly not unusual to find oneself learning about the life of a ridiculously inspiring client, but in the case of Betsy Drake—this lady has us swooning! Drake was a Hollywood actress whose real life was no less dramatic than her feature films and whose real persona far exceeded those of her silver screen characters in both depth and charm. Her Estate Sale was tremendous. Not only was the house full every day, but so many people came for her: to pay respect, to share memories and stories, or because they were admirers. Betsy touched many lives and remains incredibly inspiring. Today we’re honoring her with a look at the 5 Most Intriguing Roles of Betsy Drake.

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#5. Wife To Cary Grant / Woman Behind The Curtains.

Ironically, Betsy is best known for perhaps the least remarkable of her many accomplishments: she was married to Cary Grant. The pair fell in love aboard Queen Mary and would star in two movies together. It wasn’t uncommon then for male screenwriters to create characters for their female muses, but Betsy gave the classic scenario an impressive twist by writing the original screenplay for one of Cary Grant’s starring films, HouseBoat! Betsy was a woman far ahead of her time. (This will become even clearer as we go down the list!)

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#4. Shipwreck Survivor.

Betsy was Parisian-born to wealthy American expatriates. Her grandfather built Chicago’s famous Drake Hotel. In July of 1956, a 22-year old Betsy survived the sinking of the Italian Ocean liner SS Andrea Doria, but lost over $200,000 of jewelry. Though the experience was significantly traumatic, Betsy didn’t let it impact her path to greatness.

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#3. Art Collector.
We learned early on in the Estate Sale process that Betsy was an avid art collector. We managed the sale of her personally curated collection of over 50 pieces of mid-century art. The gorgeous and broad assortment spanned both international and local artists, some of whom were personal friends! There were works such as a lithograph by early 20th century expressionist Egon Schiele, a 1961 watercolor by German painter Julius Bissier, as well as eight paintings and mixed media pieces by Santa Monica painter Lee Mullican. She was good friends with Mullican, as well as William Theophilus Brown and Paul Wonner. The mixed media, abstract artwork falls into the tune of the 60’s and at times alludes to Betsy’s legally prescribed LSD usage. Needless to say, we were awe struck!

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#2. Artist / Writer / Scholar.

Following her divorce, an empowered Drake retired from films, earned her Masters of Education degree from Harvard University, studied at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, and went on to become a psychotherapist, a novelist, a screenplay writer, a painter and a volunteer. This leads us to her #1 most intriguing role…

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#1. Pioneer of the Modern ‘Renaissance’ Women.

It wasn’t widely encouraged in the 1950’s to 1970’s for a woman to take on so many roles, let alone to be divorced, and then unmarried. Betsy defied expectation, ignored what she was “supposed” to do, and instead did whatever the heck she wanted! As a result, she was a painter / actress / scholar / novelist / screenwriter / art collector / bicycle rider / philanthropist / psychotherapist / world traveler. She pursued each of her interests as they evolved, wearing many hats as a modern renaissance woman.

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Working on the Drake estate, you could feel her vibrant, determined spark of energy come through so many of her possessions: the art, antiques, furniture, first edition books and more. Taking a page out of Betsy’s book means living life as your most authentic self and always seeking to improve and grow. We thank the Drakes for having us on this project and we thank Betsy for inspiring us!

-XO

Katy and the team at Katy Lee Estate Sales

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