Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews by Carl Rollyson
The University Press of Mississippi, 2012
Dana Andrews was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars during the mid-1940s to early 1950s. A basically decent man, Andrews struggled with alcoholism for decades. His addiction affected his film career; other stars got roles that should have gone to him.
Carl Rollyson’s biography is comprehensive and fascinating. Rollyson obviously respects his subject, however, he is objective when it comes to some of the unattractive and disturbing incidents in Andrews’s life.
Andrews was born in Collins, Mississippi in 1904. His father, a Baptist minister, moved the family to Huntsville, Texas to accept a pastorate there. Somewhat rebellious, Andrews’s pursuit of an acting career was shunned by his strict parents. A talented singer, Andrews also studied opera. As soon as he was able, he moved to California to pursue his dream of acting success. He eventually became a regular performer at the famed Pasadena Playhouse where he met second wife, Mary Todd.
|Andrews as Fred Derry in The Best Years of Our Lives,|
perhaps his finest screen performance
Andrews worked with major directors like John Ford, Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, William Wyler, and Lewis Milestone. If it weren’t for his drinking, Andrews may have starred in the classic films Gentlemen’s Agreement and Twelve O’Clock High, both going to Gregory Peck. He finally conquered his demons late in life and was able to enjoy acting on the stage with his wife. A family man at heart, Andrews loved his wife and family passionately, if not perfectly. Apart from learning a lot about Andrews the man and actor, the reader comes away with an understanding of what the life of a movie star was like under the studio system. As you might imagine, it wasn’t as glamorous as we were led to believe. Rollyson’s work is respectful and objective, painting a rich portrait of one of Hollywood’s most beloved movie stars.
Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews is available at Amazon.com and bookstores everywhere.