Leta Powell Drake, a Nebraska-based broadcaster and actor who interviewed many celebrities, has died in Lincoln, Neb.
She was 83 years old. Drake died on Sept. 15, according to her son, Aaron Drake. This was reported by TODAY.
Leta Powell Drake had received recognition in recent years as her interviews started appearing on Twitter.
Known as the “greatest interviewer of all time,” she interviewed stars like Mary Tyler Moore, Johnny Carson, Telly Savalas, and Tim Curry.
Son of Leta Powell Drake Said Mother’s Interviews Were Digitized At Nebraska History Museum
In an interview with Aaron Drake, he told the NBC morning program by phone that his mother worked at KOLN-TV in Lincoln.
He said she was involved in stage work and newscasting.
Well, Outsiders, how did this Nebraska TV interviewer find national recognition? Her son said it all goes back to some old videos.
“Mom had been retired for a while but was still active in the community,” Aaron Drake said. “She had all these 3/4-inch videotapes in the garage that she had donated to the Nebraska History Museum. They digitized all of the old CBS junkets she did. Some of them were really obscure, but it was fun to see her get back into her old groove.”
Tom Hanks Even Paid Her High Compliment Back In 1984 When ‘Splash’ Was Released
About those interviews. Tom Hanks, back in 1984 around the time “Splash” was released, said that he could “listen to (Leta Drake Powell) all day long.”
Aaron Drake said, “She had to get to the level of each person, whether it was a movie star or a local barbershop quartet.”
Leta Powell Drake was active at KOLN from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. She also played “Kalamity Kate” on a local children’s TV program, “Cartoon Corral.”
“She used a broad spectrum of mediums to get her work across,” Aaron Drake said. Leta Powell Drake put out a book on playing “Kalamity Kate.”
Interviewer Also Played ‘Kalamity Kate’ On Local Children’s TV Show
She wished child viewers “Happy Birthday” on the TV show.
“There were about 80,000 to 90,000 kids that appeared on that program over the years,” Aaron Drake said. “And they all have vivid memories of the questions she asked them.”
He also said Leta took part in a production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” at the University of Nebraska in the 1960s. Aaron Drake added that her performance happened before Elizabeth Taylor played the same role on film.
The son said his mom also was a champion for women in broadcasting.
“It was the 1960’s, it was a male-dominated environment,” Aaron Drake said. “She was a single mom, raising me, an only child while doing all of this.”