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 Dana Andrews

Dana Andrews Profile
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Handsome, solid leading man Dana Andrews appeared mostly in genre films but proved, when rewarded with a good role in a first-rate script, that he could deliver the goods as an actor. It has been said that bouts of alcoholism kept him from having the career he might have enjoyed, but he will be remembered for his fine work in Laura (1944), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and A Walk in the Sun (1945), among other films.

He was born Carver Dana Andrews in Covington County, Mississippi, on January 1, 1909, the third of nine children of a Baptist minister. The family moved to Huntsville, Texas, where Dana's younger siblings, including actor Steve Forrest, were born. Andrews attended college there and worked at various jobs while nursing ambitions as a singer and actor. He studied opera and worked at the Pasadena Community Playhouse in California, where his success led to contracts with Samuel Goldwyn and 20th Century Fox. Andrews made his film debut in Lucky Cisco Kid (1940) and attracted attention in secondary roles in such films as Kit Carson (1940), playing explorer John C. Fremont; and Tobacco Road (1941), his first of five movies with Gene Tierney.

Andrews received excellent reviews for his performance in William Wellman's The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) as the victim of a lynching mob. He became a star with Laura, playing the detective who broods over a portrait of supposed murder victim Tierney, and reinforced his status with his sensitive work in two powerful films dealing with World War II: Lewis Milestone's A Walk in the Sun, set in Italy during the war; and William Wyler's Oscar®-winning The Best Years of Our Lives, a study of veterans facing problems at home after the end of the conflict. Andrews reunited with Tierney and Otto Preminger, the director of Laura, for Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), bringing great humanity to his portrait of a cynical detective in this classic film noir.

Ironically in view of Andrews' vocal training, his singing voice was dubbed in his only musical, State Fair (1945). In many of his 1950s films Andrews filled the role of leading man to such colorful, dominant actresses as Susan Hayward (My Foolish Heart, 1949), Elizabeth Taylor (Elephant Walk, 1954), Greer Garson (Strange Lady in Town, 1955) and Betty Hutton (Spring Reunion, 1957). By the late fifties and early sixties he was playing leads in low-budget efforts (Curse of the Demon, 1957), some of which have become popular cult films such as Zero Hour! (1957) - the inspiration for Airplane! (1980) - and he again played supporting roles in major films (The Devil's Brigade, 1968). He also appeared in many television productions and, from 1969 to 1972, had a leading role in the daytime soap opera Bright Promise. His final theatrical feature was the independent film Prince Jack (1985).

Andrews was married twice and had four children. Once his problems with alcohol were under control, he became a spokesman for the National Council on Alcoholism. He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild 1963-1965. He remarked in his later years that he made more money from real estate than he ever did from his work in movies. He died in 1992.

by Roger Fristoe
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