Dana Andrews

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Dana Andrews
Born Carver Dana Andrews
(1909-01-01)January 1, 1909
Covington County, Mississippi, U.S.
Died December 17, 1992(1992-12-17) (aged 83)
Los Alamitos, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1940–85
Spouse(s) Janet Murray (m. 1932–35); her death; one child
Mary Todd (m. 1939–92); his death; three children
Children David Andrews (1933-1964)
Katharine Andrews (b. 1942)
Stephen Andrews (b. 1944)
Susan Andrews (b. 1948)
Relatives Steve Forrest (actor), brother

Other siblings:[1]

  • Wilton Wayland Andrews (1906 - 1990)
  • Harlan Glenmoore Andrews (1907 - 1971)
  • Charles Speed Andrews (1910 - 1953)
  • Hazel Annis Andrews (1912 - 1913)
  • Ralph Lowery Andrews (1914 - 1998)
  • Margaret Alton Andrews (1916 - 1918)
  • Evelyn Hope Andrews (1917 - 1918)
  • David James Andrews (1919 - 2009)
  • John Lincoln Andrews (1920 - 2002)
  • Mary Annice Andrews Brown (1922 - 1990)
  • Lois Kathryne Andrews (1927 - 1929)

Dana Andrews (January 1, 1909 – December 17, 1992) was an American film actor. He was one of Hollywood's major stars of the 1940s, and continued acting, though generally in less prestigious roles, into the 1980s. One of his best-known roles, and the one for which he received the most praise, was as war veteran Fred Derry in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).

Early life

He was born Carver Dana Andrews on a farmstead outside Collins, Covington Coul ppl poultry, Mississippi, the third of thirteen children of Charles Forrest Andrews, a Baptist minister, and his wife Annis (née Speed).[2] The family subsequently moved to Huntsville, Texas, where his younger siblings (including actor Steve Forrest) were born.

He attended college at Sam Houston State University[3] and also studied business administration in Houston, Texas. In 1931, he traveled to Los Angeles, California, seeking opportunities as a singer. He worked at various jobs, including pumping gas in Van Nuys. To help Andrews study music at night, "The station owners stepped in ... with a deal: $50 a week for full-time study, in exchange for a five-year share of possible later earnings."[4]


Andrews signed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn and nine years after arriving in Los Angeles was offered his first movie role in William Wyler's The Westerner (1940), starring Gary Cooper.[5] He was also memorable as the gangster in the 1941 comedy Ball of Fire, again teaming with Gary Cooper. In the 1943 movie adaptation of The Ox-Bow Incident with Henry Fonda, often cited as one of his best films, he played a lynching victim. His signature roles came as an obsessed detective in Laura (1944) opposite Gene Tierney, and as a U.S. Army Air Force officer returning home from the war in the Oscar-winning 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives. Both films became classics. In 1945, he co-starred with Jeanne Crain in the musical State Fair. In 1947, he was voted the 23rd most popular star in the U.S.[6]

He played a brutal cop in Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), also with Gene Tierney. Around this time, alcoholism began to derail Andrews' career, and on a couple of occasions it nearly cost him his life on the highway. By the middle 1950s, Andrews was acting almost exclusively in B-movies. A handful of films he starred in during the late 1950s, however, contain memorable work. Two movies for Fritz Lang in 1956, While the City Sleeps and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, and two for Jacques Tourneur, Night of the Demon (1957) and The Fearmakers (1958), are well regarded.

From 1952 to 1954, Andrews starred in the radio series I Was a Communist for the FBI about the experiences of Matt Cvetic, an FBI informer who infiltrated the Communist Party. In 1963, he was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild. Andrews later appeared in a leading role as college president Tom Boswell on the NBC daytime soap opera Bright Promise from its premiere on September 29, 1969 until March 1971.[7] In 1960 he and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. starred in The Crowded Sky. Fifteen years later, Andrews and Zimbalist appeared in Airport 1975, Andrews playing a businessman pilot who has a heart attack and crashes his plane into a 747 that Zimbalist is flying.

Later years

In the 1970s, Andrews was active in real estate, telling a newspaper reporter, "I have one hotel that brings me in $200,000 a year."[5]

Personal life

Andrews married Janet Murray on New Year's Eve, 1932. Their son David (1933–1964) was a musician and composer who died from a cerebral hemorrhage. Janet Andrews died in 1935 of pneumonia. On November 17, 1939, he married actress Mary Todd, by whom he had three children, Katharine, Stephen and Susan. For two decades the family lived in Toluca Lake.

Andrews eventually brought his alcoholism under control and worked actively with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.[5] In 1972, he appeared in a television public service advertisement on the subject.[2]

He spent his final years living at the John Douglas French Center for Alzheimer's Disease in Los Alamitos, California.[2]


In the last years of his life, Andrews suffered from Alzheimer's disease. In 1992, two weeks before his 84th birthday, he died of congestive heart failure and pneumonia. This is especially poignant in that Mr. Andrews had a photographic memory with instant recall. As a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Carson commented on these remarkable mental gifts after Andrews recited verbatim his lines from a scene in the 1940s movie that Johnny mentioned as being one of his favorite WWII movies. This led into a discussion of Andrews remembering every line of dialogue from all of his movies, how he only had to read a script once to remember it permanently, and how these abilities made him popular with directors whenever there were script re-writes during filming.

Select filmography

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1948 Lux Radio Theatre The Luck of the Irish[8]
1952 Hallmark Playhouse The Secret Road[9]
1953 Theater of Stars The Token[10]


  1. "Dana Andrews". Find a Grave. June 12, 2002.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Severo, Richard (December 19, 1992). "Dana Andrews, Film Actor of 40's, Is Dead at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved November 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Coons, Robbin (September 27, 1940). "Hollywood Sights And Sounds". Big Spring Daily Herald. p. 7. Retrieved June 15, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> open access publication - free to read
  4. Coons, Robbin (August 8, 1941). "Dana Andrews Has Makings Of Stardom". Big Spring Daily Herald. p. 2. Retrieved June 15, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> open access publication - free to read
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Bass, Milton R. (August 16, 1977). "the lively world". The Berkshire Eagle. p. 6. Retrieved June 14, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>open access publication - free to read
  6. Coe, Richard L. (January 3, 1948). "Bing's Lucky Number: Pa Crosby Dons 4th B.O. Crown". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2015. Unknown parameter |subscription= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Scott, Vernon (May 6, 1971). "Ann Jeffreys Happy in 'Bright Promise'". Schenectady Gazette. United Press International. Retrieved November 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 39 (1): 32–41. Winter 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Kirby, Walter (November 30, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 14, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> open access publication - free to read
  10. Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>open access publication - free to read

External links