September 20, 2021

Leta Powell Drake

Leta Powell Drake ~ “Kalamity Kate”

March 10, 1938 ~ September 15, 2021


Leta Powell Drake didn’t plan to go until she got a hole-in-one and bowled a 300 game. When she finally achieved that rare golf shot, she knew her days were numbered. And, sadly, they were. Leta died, very reluctantly, on September 15, 2021, at age 83.

Born in Duluth, MN, to Nellie and Thomas Powell, the fourth of five children; she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Speech and English from the Univ. of Minn. and a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from UNL. She won the Best Actress award five times at University of Nebraska Theatre, with the award being renamed the Leta Powell Drake Acting Award. She acted in over 100 plays and two movies. In her 60-year TV career, she hosted and produced over 10,000 TV shows, including The Morning Show, among many others.

Leta was fondly remembered as “Kalamity Kate” on KOLN-TV’s long-running children’s show, Cartoon Corral. Her book, The Calamities of Kalamity Kate: A History of Nebraska’s Children’s TV Shows, chronicled her adventures in that role.

Most recently Leta was honored with one of UNL’s highest honorary degrees, Doctor of Humane Letters, receiving this rare recognition on stage during the UNL 2021 undergraduate graduation ceremonies.

Leta was a Lincoln TV pioneer, theater veteran, adventurer and pilot, American broadcaster, television producer, screenwriter and TV personality. She was also mother to her proudest accomplishment, son Aaron (Cyndee) Drake and granddaughters Sierra and Danielle Drake; surviving brothers Jack (Kathy) Powell and Tom (Mary) Powell and many nephews.

Considering her extraordinary achievements of public service to Lincoln, to Nebraska and to the broadcasting industry nationwide, Leta will be remembered as one of the most prolific and impressive contributors. There will never be another Leta Powell Drake.

Her final performance (in absentia) will be held on stage at the Lincoln Community Playhouse at a date to be determined. Memorials to: University of Nebraska Theatre Leta Powell Drake Acting Award; Lincoln Community Playhouse; Osher Life Long Learning Institute; Lincoln City Libraries Heritage Room; and/or Museum of Nebraska History.


  1. Will miss “Leta of the Lake” or as she would say to me – the other ldrake. We met through emails and then got to bowl together. She was so helpful and encouraging when I just couldn’t hit that head pin. God bless you. Aaron – so sorry for your loss. I also went to LHS and graduate in ’79. I remember that you were a swimmer. God bless you also.

  2. Leta was on the same faculty/staff bowling team with me for twenty years, and she was a major contributor to the team’s successes.

    Leta contributed to the world in which she lived in many positive ways, and I got learn of them through 20 years of contact in bowling and in golf. It always amazed how she had the energy to keep so involved. As a friend said, “Quite the Lady”. Mai extend my sincere condolences to Leta’s family and many friends.

  3. Leta and I were golf partners in the UNL Faculty league for several years. She dubbed us “Leta of the Links” and “Christie of the Course” – it always made me laugh or smile when she’d call or greet me with her bold voice. I loved hearing her life stories and about her current projects; I learned so much from her (e.g., she was working on documenting the Orphan Trains that stopped in North Platte). It was Leta who introduced me to OLLI. And Aaron, it was Leta who told me that her son Aaron was the first responder on the scene when my dad Sam had his stroke – for that I will be forever grateful to you. For Leta’s friendship I’ll be forever grateful.


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