(1909 - 1992)
Dana Andrews was a major Hollywood star during the 1940's, and he continued to work into the 1980's. Andrews was born to a Baptist Minister in Mississippi, in 1909. In 1931 Dana would travel to Los Angeles seeking a career as a singer. He would work at various jobs, including a stint pumping gas in Van Nuys, while awaiting his big break. He won the confidence of an employer who paid for his studies at the Pasadena Playhouse, a theater and acting school.
After nine hard years in LA, Dana Andrews signed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn. He started by playing mostly supporting roles. His first film was The Westerner (1940) starring Gary Cooper. A role he is best remembered for was one of the lynching victims in 1943's The Ox-Bow Incident starring Henry Fonda. Some of his starring roles include the obsessed detective opposite Gene Tierney in Laura (1944) , as a soldier returning home in The Best Years of Our Lives (Best Picture, 1946.) He would again star opposite Gene Tierney in William Wellman's Cold War spy drama, The Iron Curtian (1948) and as a crooked cop in Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950).
About this time alcoholism began to impact his career, and nearly cost his life on the highway. From 1952 to 54 he starred as Matt Cvetic in I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. radio series. For most of the mid 1950's he was relegated to B movies, although there is some memorable work in his portfolio from that time. Eventually he would bring his alcoholism under control, (he would credit the example of Ronald Reagan's disciplined attitude towards alcohol after the former actor became President.) In 1963 Dana Andrews would be elected as President of the Screen Actors Guild.
An interesting coincidence of casting- In 1960 Dana Andrews starred with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in The Crowded Sky; Zimbalist plays a military pilot whose plane crashes into an airliner piloted by Andrews' character. Fifteen years later Andrews would play a businessman pilot who suffers a heart attack while aloft and crashes into a 747 piloted by Zimbalist in Airport 1975.
For additional reading on Dana Andrews, see his biography (written by James McKay). For additional Dana Andrews listening, hear the original radio broadcasts of old time radio in the Dana Andrews Collection.