Carver Dana Andrews in Collins, Mississippi, 1 January 1909 or 1912.
Attended Sam Houston College.
Married 1) Janet Murray (died 1935), child: David (deceased); 2) the
actress Mary Todd, 1939, children: Katharine, Stephen, and Susan.
Early 1930s—hitchhiked to California to pursue career in films;
1935—studied to be a singer; 1936–38—worked at
Pasadena Playhouse and made the rounds of stage companies and film
studios; 1939–50—worked for both Goldwyn's studio and
20th Century-Fox as one of first actors under a split contract;
1958—began appearing as guest star on various television series;
1969–72—on daytime TV soap opera
; 1979—in TV mini-series
Of pneumonia in Los Angeles, California, 17 December 1992.
Lucky Cisco Kid (Humberstone) (as Sergeant Dunn); Sailor's Lady (Dwan) (as Scrappy Wilson); The Westerner (Wyler) (as Bart Coble); Kit Carson (Seitz) (as Capt. John C. Fremont)
Tobacco Road (John Ford) (as Dr. Tim); Belle Starr (Cummings) (as Maj. Thomas Crail); Swamp Water ( The Man Who Came Back ) (Renoir) (as Ben)
Ball of Fire (Hawks) (as Joe Lilac); Berlin Correspondent (Forde) (as Bill Roberts)
Crash Dive (Mayo) (as Lt. Cdr. Dewey Connors); The Ox-Bow Incident ( Strange Incident ) (Wellman) (as Donald Martin); The North Star ( Armored Attack ) (Milestone) (as Kolya); December 7th (Toland and Ford)
Up in Arms (Nugent) (as Joe); The Purple Heart (Milestone) (as Capt. Harvey Ross); Wing and a Prayer (Hathaway) (as Moulton); Laura (Preminger) (as Mark McPherson)
State Fair (Walter Lang) (as Pat Gilbert); Fallen Angel (Preminger) (as Eric Stanton); A Walk in the Sun (Milestone) (as Sergeant Tyne); Know Your Enemy: Japan (as narrator)
Canyon Passage (Jacques Tourneur) (as Logan Stuart); The Best Years of Our Lives (Wyler) (as Fred Derry)
Boomerang (Kazan) (as Henry L. Harvey); Daisy Kenyon (Preminger) (as Dan O'Mara); Night Song (Cromwell) (as Dan)
The Iron Curtain (Wellman) (as Igor Gouzenko); Deep Waters (King) (as Hod Stilwell); No Minor Vices (Milestone) (as Perry Aswell)
The Forbidden Street ( Britannia Mews ) (Negulesco) (as Herbert Lambert/Gilbert Lauderdale); Sword in the Desert (Sherman) (as Mike Dillon)
My Foolish Heart (Robson) (as Walt Dreiser); Where the Sidewalk Ends (Preminger) (as Mark Dixon); Edge of Doom ( Stronger Than Fear ) (Robson) (as Father Roth)
Sealed Cargo (Werker) (as Pat Bannon); The Frogmen (Lloyd Bacon) (as Flannigan); I Want You (Robson) (as Martin Greer)
Assignment Paris (Parrish) (as Jimmy Race)
Elephant Walk (Dieterle) (as Dick Carver); Duel in the Jungle (George Marshall) (as Scott Walters); Three Hours to Kill (Werker) (as Jim Guthrie)
Smoke Signal (Jerry Hopper) (as Brett Halliday); Strange Lady in Town (LeRoy) (as Rork O'Brien)
Comanche (Sherman) (as Read); While the City Sleeps (Fritz Lang) (as Ed Mobley); Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Fritz Lang) (as Tom Garrett); Hollywood Goes A-Fishing
Night of the Demon ( Curse of the Demon ) (Jacques Tourneur) (as John Holden); Spring Reunion (Pirosh) (as Fred Davis); Zero Hour (Bartlett) (as Ted Stryker)
The Fearmakers (Jacques Tourneur); Enchanted Island (Dwan)
The Crowded Sky (Pevney) (as Dick Barnett)
Madison Avenue (Humberstone) (as Clint Lorimer)
In Harm's Way (Preminger) (as Admiral Broderick); The Satan Bug (John Sturges) (as the General); Crack in the World (Marton) (as Stephen Sorensen); Brainstorm (Conrad) (as Cort Benson); Town Tamer (Selander); The Loved One (Richardson) (as Gen. Brinkson); Battle of the Bulge (Annakin) (as Col. Pritchard); Catacombs ( The Woman Who Wouldn't Die ) (Hessler)
Appuntamento per le spie ( Spy in Your Eye ) (Sala) (as Col. Lancaster); Johnny Reno (Springsteen) (title role); Supercolpo da 7 miliard ( The 1000 Carat Diamond ; Ten Million Dollar Grab )
Il Cobra ( The Cobra ) (Sequi) (as Kelly); Hot Rods to Hell (Brahm) (as Tom Phillips); The Frozen Dead (Leder) (as Dr. Norberg)
I diamanti che nessuno voleva rubare ( No Diamonds for Ursula ); The Devil's Brigade (McLaglen) (as Brig. Gen. Walter Naylor)
Innocent Bystanders (Collinson) (as Blake)
Airport 1975 (Smight) (as Scott Freeman)
Take a Hard Ride (Dawson) (as Morgan); Shadow in the Streets (Donner—for TV)
The Last Tycoon (Kazan) (as Red Ridingwood)
Good Guys Wear Black (Post) (as government man)
The American Girls ; Born Again (Rapper) (as Tom Phillips)
The Pilot ( Danger in the Skies (Robertson) (as Randolph Evers)
Prince Jack (Lovitt) (as the Cardinal)
Interview with Allen Eyles, in Focus on Film (London), Winter, 1976.
Interview by Carol Easton, in The Search for Sam Goldwyn , New York, 1976.
Polonsky, Abraham, " The Best Years of Our Lives ," in Hollywood Quarterly , April 1947.
Current Biography 1959 , New York, 1959.
Parish, James Robert, with Gregory W. Mank, in The Hollywood Reliables , Westport, Connecticut, 1980.
Wegner, H., "From Expressionism to Film Noir: Otto Preminger's Where the Sidewalk Ends ," in Journal of Popular Film (Washington, D.C.), Summer 1983.
Classic Images (Indiana, Pennsylvania), May 1984.
Obituary in New York Times , 19 December 1992.
Obituary in Variety (New York), 21 December 1992.
* * *
Dana Andrews is remembered for his performances in The Ox Bow Incident , Laura , and The Best Years of Our Lives . Impeccably groomed, and possessing a rich baritone voice, Andrews epitomizes the movie star of 1940s: handsome but rugged, smooth but vulnerable. Andrews looks like the average nice guy, but because of his often inscrutable countenance, he can become a morally ambiguous figure.
Andrews left a secure job as an accountant in Texas to go to Hollywood in the early 1930s. For the next several years, he worked odd jobs and performed at the Pasadena Playhouse. In 1938, he was "discovered" and signed to a contract with Samuel Goldwyn. In 1940, Andrews made his screen debut in The Westerner. Fox purchased half of Andrews's contract, and his performance in Tobacco Road moved him into A pictures. In 1941, Andrews appeared in Jean Renoir's Swamp Water , a simple, atmospheric film Andrews recalled as one of his favorites.
In 1943, Andrews moved closer to star status with his convincing portrayal of Donald Martin, the young rancher hanged by the lynching mob in The Ox Bow Incident. His position at Fox improved as well, for that same year two of Zanuck's well-established stars, Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda, joined the armed services. Andrews, in his thirties with two children, was ineligible for enlistment, and Fox once again "discovered" Andrews, who looked like a handsome young man in his twenties. He established himself as a star through his solid and appealing performances in a trio of war films: The North Star , The Purple Heart , and Wing and a Prayer . Goldwyn decided to use Andrews as the romantic lead in Up in Arms , and from there, he played romantic leads in a second trio of films: Laura , Fallen Angel , and State Fair .
In Laura , Andrews demonstrates his ability to play troubled or morally ambiguous characters. His tightly controlled portrayal of the detective entranced with the woman whose (apparent) murder he is investigating finds a perfect match in Gene Tierney's masklike elegance, and his performance is charged with sexuality, for his character's interest in the case suggests sensitivity, integrity—and moral deviance. In The Best Years of Our Lives , Andrews's portrait of the troubled but admirable young captain draws its power from the distance Andrews maintains from the other characters—and the audience—except in moments of controlled revelation. In Boomerang , Andrews's portrayal of the conscience-driven district attorney is compelling because it is so guardedly reserved; an expression that passes through Andrews's eyes when he first interviews the alleged murderer is the only sign we have that the attorney will work to defend the man he is supposed to prosecute.
In the late 1940s, Andrews began looking for small-scale projects to produce independently. The studios had other plans. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Andrews was cast in remakes ( I Want You , Brainstorm ), war films ( In Harm's Way , The Battle of the Bulge ), spy melodramas ( Assignment Paris , The Fearmakers ), and mad-scientist thrillers ( Crack in the World , The Frozen Dead ). Rather than playing complex characters in well-directed films, Andrews appeared in a series of humorless, one-dimensional roles, and his reputation became tied to the declining status of Hollywood "studio pictures."
Andrews looked to other venues for work. He had been involved in theater throughout the 1940s and early 1950s as a founding member of the "Eighteen Actors" Company, and in the late 1950s, Andrews returned to theater in earnest. In 1958, he began a two-year run on Broadway in Two for the Seesaw , and in the 1960s he appeared in stage productions of A Man for All Seasons , The Odd Couple , and Plaza Suite . He continued in theater throughout the 1970s. From 1969 to 1972 Andrews appeared in the soap opera Bright Promise. Andrews's movie career reactivated in the 1970s. He was part of the star-studded cast that made Airport 1975 a box-office success. And, as an actor emblematic of Hollywood's golden age, Andrews helped create the portrait of "old Hollywood" in The Last Tycoon .
A tough guy and a gentleman, Andrews's most memorable characters are always in perfect control of themselves, but that control is the result of great effort, for Andrews's underplaying conveys characters' attempts not to show how deeply situations affect them.