Dana Andrews

For the American singer and musician, see Dana Andrews (musician).
Dana Andrews
Born Carver Dana Andrews
(1909-01-01)January 1, 1909
Near Collins, Mississippi, United States
Died December 17, 1992(1992-12-17) (aged 83)
Los Alamitos, California, United States
Occupation Actor
Years active 19401985
Spouse(s) Janet Murray (m. 1932; her death 1935)
Mary Todd (m. 1939; his death 1992)
Children 4
Relatives Steve Forrest (brother)

Carver Dana Andrews (January 1, 1909 December 17, 1992), better known as Dana Andrews, 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

Andrews was born on a farmstead near Collins, Mississippi, the third of 13 children of Charles Forrest Andrews, a Baptist minister, and his wife Annis (née Speed).[1] The family subsequently moved to Huntsville, Texas, the birthplace of his younger siblings, including future Hollywood actor Steve Forrest.[2]

Andrews attended college at Sam Houston State University[3] and studied business administration in Houston, Texas. In 1931, he traveled to Los Angeles, California, seeking opportunities as a singer. He worked various jobs, such as working at a gas station 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 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 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.

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

Personal life

Andrews married Janet Murray on December 31, 1932. Their son, David (1933–1964), was a musician and composer who died from a cerebral hemorrhage. Murray died in 1935 of pneumonia. On November 17, 1939, Andrews married actress Mary Todd, by whom he had three children: Katharine, Stephen, and Susan. For two decades, the family lived in Toluca Lake, California.

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.[1]

He spent his final years living at the John Douglas French Center for Alzheimer's Disease in Los Alamitos, California.[1]


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.

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. 1 2 3 Severo, Richard (December 19, 1992). "Dana Andrews, Film Actor of 40's, Is Dead at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  2. "Dana Andrews". Find a Grave. June 12, 2002.
  3. Coons, Robbin (September 27, 1940). "Hollywood Sights And Sounds". Big Spring Daily Herald. p. 7. Retrieved June 15, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  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.
  5. 1 2 3 Bass, Milton R. (August 16, 1977). "the lively world". The Berkshire Eagle. p. 6. Retrieved June 14, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  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. (subscription required (help)).
  7. Scott, Vernon (May 6, 1971). "Ann Jeffreys Happy in 'Bright Promise'". Schenectady Gazette. United Press International. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  8. "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 39 (1): 32–41. Winter 2013.
  9. Kirby, Walter (November 30, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 14, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  10. Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
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