Best known for his roles in the film noir Laura (1944) and as war veteran Fred Derry in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).
Lucky Cisco Kid
The North Star
Up in Arms
The Purple Heart
Wing and a Prayer
A Walk in the Sun
The Iron Curtain
No Minor Vices
The Forbidden Street
Sword in the Desert
My Foolish Heart
Edge of Doom
I Want You
Assignment – Paris!
Duel in the Jungle
Three Hours to Kill
Strange Lady in Town
Curse of the Demon
Night of the Demon
The Crowded Sky
The Satan Bug
Crack in the World
Berlin, Appointment for the Spies
The Loved One
Battle of the Bulge
The Frozen Dead
Hot Rods to Hell
Supercolpo da 7 miliardi
I diamanti che nessuno voleva rubare
The Devil’s Brigade
The Failing of Raymond
Take a Hard Ride
The Last Tycoon
Good Guys Wear Black
Dana Andrews was never nominated for an Academy Award.
I went through all the psychiatry thing, trying to find out why I drank. I finally ended up with the president of the American Psychiatry Association in Hartford telling me, “I’m damned if I know why you drink”. ~ Dana Andrews
Carver Dana Andrews was born on January 1, 1909 on a farmstead near Collins in southern Mississippi, the third of thirteen children of Charles Forrest Andrews, a Baptist minister, and his wife, the former Annis Speed. The family relocated subsequently to Huntsville, Texas, the birthplace of his younger siblings, including future Hollywood actor Steve Forrest.
Andrews attended college at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville and studied business administration in Houston. During 1931, he traveled to Los Angeles, California, to pursue opportunities as a singer. He worked in various jobs, such as working at a gas station in the nearby community of 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.
Andrews signed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn, and nine years after arriving in Los Angeles was offered his first movie role in Lucky Cisco Kid (1940) at 20th Century Fox.
He was in Sailor’s Lady (1940), developed by Goldwyn but sold to Fox. Andrews was loaned to Edward Small to appear in Kit Carson (1940), before Goldwyn used him for the first time in a Goldwyn production: William Wyler’s The Westerner (1940), featuring Gary Cooper.
Fox liked Andrews and since Goldwyn did not make films very often, he agreed to share his contract with Andrews with that studio. Andrews had support parts in Fox films Tobacco Road (1941), directed by John Ford; Belle Starr (1941), with Gene Tierney, billed third; and Swamp Water (1941), directed by Jean Renoir.
His next film for Goldwyn was Ball of Fire (1941), again teaming with Cooper, where Andrews played a gangster.
Back at Fox Andrews was given his first lead, in Berlin Correspondent (1942). He was second lead to Tyrone Power in Crash Dive (1943) then had an excellent part in the 1943 movie adaptation of The Ox-Bow Incident with Henry Fonda. Often cited as one of Andrews’ best movies, he played a lynching victim.
Andrews went back to Goldwyn for The North Star (1943), directed by Lewis Milestone. He worked on a government propaganda film December 7th: The Movie (1943) then was used by Goldwyn again in Up in Arms (1944), supporting Danny Kaye.
Andrews was reunited with Milestone at Fox for The Purple Heart (1944) then was in Wing and a Prayer (1944) for Henry Hathaway.
He co-starred with Jeanne Crain in the movie musical State Fair (1945), a huge hit, and was reunited with Preminger for Fallen Angel (1945).
Andrews did another war movie with Milestone, A Walk in the Sun (1945), then was loaned to Walter Wanger for a Western, Canyon Passage (1946).
Andrews’ second film with William Wyler, also for Goldwyn, was his most successful: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), which was a huge hit and became perhaps Andrews’ most famous performance.
Andrews appeared in Boomerang! (1947), directed by Elia Kazan; Night Song (1947), at RKO; and Daisy Kenyon (1947) for Preminger.
Andrews starred in the anti-communist The Iron Curtain (1948), reuniting him with Gene Tierney, then Deep Waters (1948). He made a comedy for Lewis Milestone at Enterprise Pictures, No Minor Vices (1948), then went to England for Britannia Mews (1949).
Andrews went to Universal for Sword in the Desert (1949), then Goldwyn called him back for My Foolish Heart (1949) with Susan Hayward.
He played a brutal police officer in Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), also with Tierney and Preminger. Around this time, alcoholism began to damage Andrews’ career, and on a couple of occasions it nearly cost him his life while driving a car.
Edge of Doom (1950) for Goldwyn was a flop. He went to RKO to make Sealed Cargo (1951) which was the only film he made with his brother Steve Forrest. At Fox he was in The Frogmen (1951). Goldwyn cast him in I Want You (1951), an unsuccessful attempt to repeat the success of The Best Years of Our Lives.
From 1952 to 1954, Andrews featured 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 of the United States of America.
Andrews’ film career was struggling a little: Assignment: Paris (1952) was not widely seen. He did Elephant Walk (1954) in Ceylon, a film better known for Vivien Leigh‘s nervous breakdown and replacement with Elizabeth Taylor. Duel in the Jungle (1954) was an adventure tale; Three Hours to Kill (1954) and Smoke Signal (1955) were Westerns; Strange Lady in Town (1955) was a Greer Garson vehicle; Comanche (1956), another Western.
By the middle 1950s, Andrews was acting almost exclusively in B-movies. However, his acting in two movies for Fritz Lang during 1956, While The City Sleeps and Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, and two for Jacques Tourneur, Night of the Demon (1957) and The Fearmakers (1958), is well regarded. Around this time he also appeared in Spring Reunion (1957), Zero Hour! (1957), and Enchanted Island (1958).
Andrews began appearing on television in the late 1950s.
Andrews continued to make films like The Crowded Sky (1960) and Madison Avenue (1961). He went to Broadway for The Captains and the Kings which had a short run in 1962.
During 1963, he was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild.
Andrews resumed film work with The Satan Bug (1965) and In Harm’s Way (1965), playing support roles in both. He had the lead in Crack in the World (1965), Brainstorm (1965), Town Tamer (1965), and Berlin, Appointment for the Spies (1966). However, he was increasingly in support roles: Bang You’re Dead (1965), The Loved One (1965), Battle of the Bulge (1965), and Johnny Reno (1966).
Andrews still played leads in low budget films like The Frozen Dead (1966), The Cobra (1967) and Hot Rods to Hell (1967). He was normally a supporting actor now though, like in The 1000 Carat Diamond (1967), No Diamonds for Ursula (1967), and The Devil’s Brigade (1968).
He later appeared in a major role as college president Tom Boswell on the NBC daytime soap opera Bright Promise from its premiere on September 29, 1969, until March 1971.
Andrews spent the 1970s in supporting roles such as The Failing of Raymond (1971), Innocent Bystanders (1972), Airport 1975 (1974), A Shadow in the Streets (1975), The First 36 Hours of Dr. Durant (1975), Take a Hard Ride (1975), The Last Tycoon (1976), The Last Hurrah (1977), and Good Guys Wear Black (1978)
He regularly appeared on TV in such shows as Ironside, Get Christie Love!, Ellery Queen, Have Girls Will Travel, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and The Love Boat.
During the 1970s, Andrews was active with real estate business, telling a newspaper reporter that he had one hotel that brings him in $200,000 a year.
Andrews’ final roles included Born Again (1978), Ike: The War Years (1979), The Pilot (1980), Falcon Crest and Prince Jack.
He 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 controlled his alcoholism and worked actively with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. During 1972, he appeared in a television public service advertisement concerning the subject.
During the last years of his life, Andrews suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. He spent his final years living at the John Douglas French Center for Alzheimer’s Disease in Los Alamitos, California
On December 17, 1992, fifteen days before his 84th birthday, Andrews died of congestive heart failure and pneumonia. His wife died in 2003 at the age of eighty-six.