SOUTH AFRICAN CLASSIC FILM STAR NOEL DRAYTON by Deborah Painter

     If you see many 1950s and 1960s films and television series, particularly those made in the United States, you probably have seen Noel Drayton. Despite his many, many roles, little information is available on his life. He was born October 7, 1913 in Cape Town and moved to Los Angeles, California in the late 1940s.  Drayton is an example of an actor who started his career with large roles and found himself in smaller character parts over time. They became his “bread and butter”, so to speak. The redheaded actor’s debut was as a jockey, “George”, in the 1950 Jean Negulesco-directed racetrack drama for 20th Century Fox, Under My Skin, starring John Garfield and based on “My Old Man”, a story by famed author Ernest Hemingway.  Drayton received fifth billing for his role as George. He was Atkinson, a wealthy tea planter in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in Elephant Walk, starring Peter Finch and Elizabeth Taylor. The Court Jester, starring Danny Kaye, helped him establish his specialty in historical films and gave him a chance to act in a comedy.

  There seemed to be an emphasis on dramas set at sea: The Wreck of the Mary Deare, Blackbeard the Pirate, and Botany Bay.  Much of the action in Plymouth Adventure took place shipboard.  Miles Standish (Drayton) and his fellow Pilgrims journeyed from Europe to land at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, in the early days of the American colonies. Noel Drayton also made appearances in the long running syndicated television series Sea Hunt, in which Drayton played oceanographers and a paleontologist assisting scuba expert Mike Nelson (Lloyd Bridges).  Noel lent his subtly comedic touch to many of the most popular and enduring series of the 1960s, such as Perry Mason, The Danny Thomas Show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man From U. N.C. L. E., McHale’s Navy, The Wild, Wild West and One Step Beyond.

   Drayton went into semi retirement from television and films in 1970 after his stint as a semi regular cast member on the very popular American television series Family Affair, portraying Mr. Hardcastle.  His last film was Gone with the West (1975).  He died in Sedona, Arizona on December 7, 1981.  Noel Drayton’s acting career spanned twenty-five years and included 76 credits. You can see him on YouTube in the 20th Century-Fox Hour television episode,  Deception:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5LjQesi0BY

You can also see him on YouTube in the entire film Under My Skin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5LjQesi0BY