Modern Screen magazine, Sept 1944    cont'd


Heavy pic schedule prevents Dana's
indulging in riding, swimming, hiking,
so he keeps down to 168 by hoeing.



Dana belonged to a family where you had to scramble for what you got, and where democracy and equality were taken for granted. His mother had 13 children with 8 of them still living. His dad, the Reverend Charles Forrest Andrews, was a Baptist minister, so what the Andrews kids got was not pampering but character. He lived all around, from his birthplace in Mississippi, to Louisville, KY, San Antonio, Uvalde, and finally Huntsville, Texas. Dana had to crack a new gang of neighborhood kids periodically, and even in his own family he couldn't get by with any tricks. His dad was a strick disciplinarian, and stood for no monkey business.

Once Dana got irked at one of his brothers, picked up an iron pipe and lammed him over the head, knocking him cold. When he recovered, the Reverend Andrews took the wounded son aside.
"How do you feel?" he asked. "Think you can take care of this situation with Dana yourself?"
"Sure," said the brother.
"All right," promised the Reverend. "I'll be the referee."
He lined them up outside, they squared off and - bam!-- Dana's bud landed a haymaker on his nose, and the fight was over pronto with justice done. Dana still has a little off-line spot on his beak where the blow busted it.
Dana was third from the oldest in a string of six Andrews brothers. He followed right along in his big brothers' tracks through high school and Sam Houston College in Huntsville and, being smart and athletic, had an easy time of it. But Dana was different underneath.

After college, Dana landed himself a good solid job as an accountant for an oil company in Austin, made good and was all set for a promotion -- but he quit cold and thumbed his way out to Hollywood to be a movie actor.

But after Dana got to Hollywood he of course discovered that his sitting in the Huntsville movie house and kibitzing flicker stars was no free pass to a studio.

After he learned the score, it was a question of keeping alive, and Dana was faced with earning his beans without any help from home.


He landed a job driving a school bus in Van Nuys, and he's still there, although his lovely home in Sherman Oaks is not exactly like the dinky room he rented for four bucks a week in those days. Dana never got a glance at a studio, not even extra work, until he landed a job in a Valley Super-Service station pumping gas and keeping the books. And if he hadn't developed the very bad habit of singing while he punched the adding machine, he might still be a bookkeeper.

What happened to Dana from then on is a Hollywood classic, one of those impossible freaks of fate, even more screwy than Lana Turner's being yanked off a drugstore fountain stool to stardom.
Dana was warbling away one day when a customer cocked an ear. This customer was a natural born promoter and he had been reading in the papers about a singer named Bing Crosby who was signing million-dollar contracts right and left.
He peeked inside the station and got a load of dashing Dana with his jaunty service cap and birthed a brilliant idea. Why not make this handsome gas station thrush into another Crosby? When he discovered that Dana's ambition in life was to crash the movies, the gentleman Good Fairy was sure he'd stumbled onto a good thing.

"Maybe we can work out a deal," he said.  Dana was willing. So, cutting in a couple of his cronies, he drew up a contract. They'd finance Dana's singing lessons and living expenses for three years at fifty bucks a week. Then when Dana struck it rich in the movies he'd pay back twenty-four percent of his fabulous earnings for five years.
Oddly enough, that deal went through as written. Dana cashed 50 dolllars each week, and when he did finally hit the jackpot, he paid off. Only last month he wound up the payments and tore up the mortgage himself.

Of course it was as no Bing Crosby that Dana Andrews finally made good. Besides the singing lessons, he doubled-up by enrolling at the Pasadena Community Playhouse, the famous cradle for Hollywood stars. By this time Dana had taken a wife, but not long after she'd presented Dana with his son David, she died tragically of pneumonia.

The Pasadena Playhouse has turned out scads of actors for Hollywood. But there was never a bigger crop getting ready for the big league than when Dana broke into the charmed circle. Victor Mature, Laird Cregar, Robert Preston, Gig Young, Eddie Buchanan, Louise Albritton and John Carradine were just a few of the now famous hopefuls scrapping for breaks where Hollywood agents would see and crown them with contracts.

That was plenty fast company for a gas pump jerk to tangle with. But Dana Andrews was one of the first of the lot to be crowned with a Hollywood contract. An agent caught him in "Oh Evening Star," hauled him over to Sam Goldwyn's and got him all signed up.

Something else happened that won Dana another kind of contract -- the marriage kind. He met an attractive student actress named Mary Todd, and a romance blossomed into very serious intentions.                     continue


 

 

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