|Stage headed for Boise, 1908. Elmore County Historical Research Team.|
Oliver reportedly left “the city” at an early age to work on a ranch. However, by 1920, he was picking lemons near Chula Vista, California. Enthralled by silent film entertainment, he began working in the industry in the early Twenties. He apparently acted in several low-budget Westerns, but we know the name of only one: Red Blood and Blue, in 1925.
Drake eventually turned more to the production side: writing, producing, and directing silent films and then talkies. The earliest producer/director credit listed by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) was Texas Tornado, released in 1932. The IMDb lists a total of 55 films that he produced or directed (14 in which he did both).
Drake essentially perfected the “B-Western” approach to movies: formulaic – but action-filled – scripts, low-cost performers, and streamlined production. Often disparaged as low-brow “oaters,” such films nonetheless offered good entertainment value to the movie-going public right into the 1950s.
Not blessed with budgets that could afford stars who had “made it,” Drake worked with a number of stars on their way up. These included Sebastian Cabot, Denver Pyle, and John Paine, among others.
In 1949, he directed a film in which Emmy-winning actress/singer Polly Bergen played a cantina singer. Bergen is still active. She played an on-going role in the TV series Desperate Housewives and has recently acted in another film. In 1956, he wrote a small part for Slim Pickens, later noted for cowboy-riding the dropped nuclear bomb in Dr. Strangelove.
Drake continued to write, both for movies and for television. He wrote nearly thirty TV episodes, including spots for such popular shows as The Adventures of Superman, The Gene Autry Show and Lassie. He also produced or directed at least 16 TV episodes, including some for Sky King and Lassie. His last IMDb movie title appeared in 1970. He ended as he started … with credits as writer, producer, and director. Drake passed away in August 1991.
|"Oliver Drake," Internet Movie Database, imdb.com.|