Modern Screen magazine, Nov 1945  cont'd.

Meantime he was majoring in business administration. Mother and Dad were a little disappointed that none of the boys showed an inclination to enter the ministry, but the children's lives were their own. As for Dana, business was an honorable calling. Luckily for their peace of mind, they couldn't see inside his head.

He went to Austin and worked as an accountant. From any viewpoint but his own, a highly successful 18 months during which he was upped to office manager. Since he couldn't study acting, he took singing lessons.

The singing teacher had been in show business. It was to him that Dana laid bare his hopes for the first time. "Do you think I have a chance?"
"A chance? Yes. It'll mean a lot of work and you may never be a star, but you should be able to make a living."

He might have stayed put longer if the boss hadn't offered to promote him again. Dana was staring into an aybss marked Danger: Successful Business Man. He saw himself bogged down, lured away from his vision by a swelling bank account. Austin was a nice town; his imagination leaped ahead to himself at 40, with a wife and kids, a car and a house, feet stuck in a rut, eyes turned wistfully toward a gleam that had vanished. It scared him stiff.
"I'm quitting."
The boss's jaw dropped. "What's this, a gag?"
"No. I'm leaving town. It's got nothing to do with you. I want to be an actor."

He left Austin and reached Huntsville with a ten dollar bill in his pocket. The folks were delighted to see him.
"Vacation?" asked Mother.
"Nope." Might as well come straight out with it. "I'm going to Hollywood. To be an actor."

What cushioned the shock was that they didn't really believe him. Dana had always been the restless one. Now he'd had enough of Austin and was pushing on.

Harlan went to the highway with him to see him off. "Take care of yourself, kid." A car stopped and Harlan hoisted the suitcase in. Dana craned his neck backward, waving till distance swallowed his brother up, then fixed his eyes on the road ahead.

At El Paso he got a break. The man who picked him up there was going all the way to Los Angeles. Dana told him he wanted to be an actor.
"Tough racket. Here's some advice. They'll tell you it can't be done. Pay no attention. You want it enough, you can do it."

In Los Angeles, Dana found a job driving a school bus for ten bucks a week, and a place that gave him room and board for eighteen a month. Now all he had to do was tackle the studios.

He was green, but not dumb. It took one round of the studios to make him realize that they'd call him when hell froze over. There must be some other angle. Experience. Without experience you couldn't get a job. Without a job, you couldn't get experience. Or could you? Amateur dramatics, maybe.

He beat it over to the Van Nuys High School where they had night classes in acting, and enrolled.

There was a girl in the class named Janet Murray. One night he asked if he could see her home, and they told each other the story of their lives.

Janet didn't want to be an actress, she'd just joined the class for fun. Her job was in the newspaper field, she'd taken a master's degree at Northwestern in journalism.

Janet's mother Aggie thought it silly for Dana to be driving a bus. By now the Depression was in full swing and jobs didn't come easy. But thanks to Dana's training and Janet's family connections, he was hired as bookkeeper by a big service station at $100 a month.
Well, that was riches. "What are we waiting for?" he asked Janet.   And there was a quiet wedding in the Murray home.

Janet thought Dana's voice was wonderful. She thought he ought to concentrate on singing. A teacher in Van Nuys confirmed her opinion. If Dana worked hard enough, he could do musical comedy.

"Why musical comedy?" asked Janet calmly. "Why not the Metropolitan?"
At first Dana put that down to a wife's partiality. But she talked him into going to see a teacher of operatic voices, who agreed to give Dana lessons.

The couple had rented the upper floor of a duplex. They invested in a combination radio, record player and recording machine. For months their living room held nothing but the big machine. They read plays together, made records and played them back. Dana'd sing into the machine and they'd compare the latest platter with the previous one to see if he'd improved.

They didn't have money for parties or glad rags. Or for anything much beyond shelter and food. But they had each other and the future, and they were happy.

Dana's boss had a partner named Twomey, who liked to set people up in business. Instead of stocks or real estate, he invested in human beings and always had his eye peeled for prospects.


Andrews had a tough time finding furniture to fill
the new Toluca Lake house but a piano helped.







See wife Mary's gold watch?
It's the first gift Dana bought after signing contract
with 20th Century Fox to do 2 outside pics a year.

 


Fuzzy Wuzzy's a lucky dog to belong to Dana,
whose favorite food is roast beef,
which spells b-o-n-e.

Three unrelated events brought Dana to Twomey's attention. Bing Crosby became a sensation, the late Pauline Frederick made a remark, and Dana pumped gas into Mrs. Twomey's car while one of the regulars was out to lunch.

"Such a nice-looking boy," she told her husband. "Ambitious, too. He came from Texas to get into pictures."

Pauline Fredrick was a friend of the Twomey's. They dropped in to see her and the talk veered to Bing Crosby. "Right now," she said, "this town's got a hundred Crosbys who'll die on the vine. Kids end up eating their hearts out working at gas stations because they can't get a hearing..."

Next day Mr. Twomey showed up at Dana's job and had a few words with his partner, Mr. Wardlow. "If you think he's a good risk, it's OK with me," said Wardlow. "In fact, you can cut me in on the deal."

Dana looked up from his adding machine. He knew Mr. Twomey from having seen him around. That gentleman came straight to the point.

"I understand from my wife that you've got a voice, and I'm here to make you a proposition. I've done the same with other young folks who had no capital. Set 'em up, take my profit, and then they're free. You're taking singing lessons. With a wife to support and the money you earn here, it can't be easy. I'll pay for the lessons."

Here Dana found his voice. "What's the deal?"
"First, forget opera. Sing popular music. This fella Crosby's making a lot of dough. Maybe you could do the same."

"Thanks, but the answer's no. I want to sing at the Met."

Mr. Twomey rose. "OK. But if you change your mind, let me know..."

Janet gave birth to their son David, and a baby makes a difference in many ways, not the least of them being the budget. So, when Mr. Twomey came around again, Dana was in a much more receptive mood.
Twomey told him, "I'll pay for your lessons and we'll work out the rest of it later."
"I don't want to go into debt---"
"There'll be no debt unless you make good. If and when you earn good money, you can pay me back. If not, I mark it off as a bad investment.

Dana's singing teacher saw no reason why Dana shouldn't study opera and learn lighter music too. So Dana and Twomey struck their bargain.

Meantime, with some others, Dana and Janet had organized a Little Theater group in the valley. Its two most faithful patrons were Twomey and Janet's mother Aggie.

Just before bedtime one Saturday night, Janet was seized with a violent chill. The doctor came, made his examination and motioned Dana into the kitchen.
"It's pneumonia and it's bad."
The look on his face was even more terrifying than his words. Through lips suddenly stiff, Dana asked, "How bad?"
"A 50-50 chance. We'll do everything we can, but I wanted you to know."

She was too sick to be moved. The doctor phoned for a nurse. Aggie arrived too. Dana was sent out for a hospital bed and an oxygen tent. The night wasn't real. This wasn't happening. You couldn't be well one minute and the next--- He pushed the next away. One minute at a time was all he could take.

On Sunday the blackness receded a little, but the next day she grew much worse. On Tuesday she died.                               continue


 
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