Dana Andrews: “The Face of Noir”

Dana Andrews was an A-List Hollywood talent during the 40s, but was relegated to mostly B-movies during the 50s. His career extended into the 1980s.

Born into the family of a Baptist Minister, Andrews spent his earliest years in Mississippi before the family moved to Texas. In 1931 Dana traveled to Hollywood to seek his fortune as a singer. It took nine hard years before he got his big break. During this time he was forced to take small jobs like pumping gas in Van Nuys, although one employer was confident enough in him to finance his acting lessons.

In 1940 he signed with Sam Goldwyn. His first role was as in The Westerner, starring Gary Cooper. His best early role was as one of the lynching victims in 1943’s The Ox-Bow Incident starring Henry Fonda.

Andrews starred as an obsessed detective in Laura (1944) (also starring Gene Tierney) and as a soldier returning home in The Best Years of Our Lives (Best Picture, 1946.)

Alcoholism took a toll on Andrews‘ career, relegating him to mostly B-movie roles during the 1950s. It almost cost him his life on the freeway. Crediting the example of actor Ronald Reagan’s disciplined attitude towards liquor, he finally brought his alcoholism under control. In 1963 he was elected as President of the Screen Actors Guild.

One of those coincidences that could only happen in a long and colorful career: In the 1960 film, The Crowded Sky, Andrews’ character pilots a passenger airliner that is crashed into by a small military plane piloted by Efrem Zimbalist Jr. In Airport 1975 Dana Andrews plays a business pilot who suffers a heart attack and crashes into a 747 piloted by, that’s right, Efrem Zimbalist Jr!

Enjoy this old time radio show of  Dana Andrews‘ role as obsessed detective in the Lux Radio production of “Laura”:

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