Modern Screen magazine, Nov 1945  cont'd.

For a time Dana's world held just one bleak, incredible fact. Janet, his wife of 3 years, was gone. Wherever he turned, it bludgeoned his dazed mind and stunned him again. Without Janet's mother Aggie, he doesn't know what would have happened to him.

In the midst of her own grief, there was still something Aggie could do for her lost daughter. She took Dana and 2-year-old David into her home. They became her children. The furniture all went into storage, except for the music machine. "Take that over to my house," Aggie told the movers. One of these days Dana would need it again.

Always his booster, Aggie took over Janet's role - encouraging, prodding him gently to go back to his singing and dramatics.

Between Aggie and Twomey, he did get started again. One day his backer came to the filling station where he worked. Besides being a good businessman, Twomey was a person of kindliness and tact.

"You're worn out," he said. "You're spending too much energy here at the station. I want to put you on salary. Your job'll be to go on with your voice lessons and spend the rest of the day figuring how to get into pictures."

For the first time since Janet's death, Dana's eyes showed a spark.

The Pasadena Playhouse has a nationwide reputation. Dozens of its graduates ornament our stages and screens. Every Sunday night they hold open readings. Anyone can try out and on a certain Sunday night Dana is one of 150 who do. He read a brief scene from "Antony and Cleopatra" and was one of the chosen called back for a second reading.
This was his first recognition by the world as an actor. And he did indeed get a part -- carrying a spear. But it wasn't too much of an anticlimax, because here was what the amateur from Van Nuys had hungered for -- greasepaint and the thrill of first nights and people who not only loved their business but knew it -- in brief, the authentic smell of the theater. He filled his lungs with it, and felt he was breathing at last.

They were running a Shakespeare Festival. In "Cymbeline" they gave him a speaking part that all but finished him. Fiddling nervously with his moustache before curtain time, he pulled the thing loose and ran downstairs for some spirit gum. The place was pitch black. Instead of being on stage when the curtain rose, he was trying to scramble out of an elevator shaft.
His lines were crucial to the action. They started a fight between two other characters. By the time he'd battled his way back to the wings, the scene was in full sail, with the other two trying to ad lib Shakespeare - Dana listened in frozen horror. There went his career.

Presently he was facing an outraged director. "Where the hell were you?"
Up to that point, he'd been feeling like a worm. But direct attack stiffened him. He had, after all, committted something less than mayhem. "Does it make much difference? i wasn't where I was supposed to be. Nothing excuses that, but if you'll give me another chance..."
For a moment fate hung in the balance, then--"Okay."

So began a period of perpetual motion. Mornings he worked for Twomey. Then to Pasadene for a rehearsal, back to Los Angeles for a singing lesson, back to Pasadena for the performance, back to Van Nuys at two in the morning.

Twomey was content. "Only I can't take this Shakespeare. When you do a regular play, I'll be around."

He hadn't long to wait. Dana got one of the leads in Sidney Howard's dramatization of "Paths of Glory". In fact, of the three principal parts, his was the standout -- Langlois, the sensitive, ironic young Frenchman.

He was a success. A critic wrote, "As for Dana Andrews, playing the soldier whose survival would have meant most to civilization, I find it difficult to restrain my praise..."

For two and a half years at the Playhouse, he beat his brains out, playing big parts and small, young men and old, learning technique, training, waiting for nibbles that never came.

someday she'll come along...

Meantime, Mary Todd had entered the picture. It was Aggie who first broached the subject of re-marriage. "You know, Dana, someday there'll be another girl..."

"Are you worried about it?" he asked gently.

"On the contrary. I'd be worried if I thought you'd never marry again. But will you do me a favor? When she shows up, will you let me meet her?"

They were rehearsing "First Lady" and blonde Mary Todd played the ingenue opposite Dana. She was a swell actress, with a lively mind and a dry sense of humor.  After rehearsals, the crowd would assemble for coffee and sandwiches.   By imperceptible degrees, the others ceased to exist for Dana. Mary blotted them out. 

On opening night they all went out to celebrate.
"I've been wanting to do this for 4 weeks," he announced, and kissed her so she knew she'd been kissed, murmured, "That's all, thank you," and marched back to the table.

When Mary rejoined them, neither said a word to each other, until Dana asked if he could see her home.
It's a long way from Pasadena to Santa Monica. Dana was busy driving, Mary seemed lost in thought. Conversation languished.
When they pulled up at her house, he turned to her. "I'm in love with you. What're you going to do about it?"

Aggie met her when Dana took them both out to a show. Afterwards, Aggie told him, "That's the one." It was a statement, not a question. "Oh Dana, I'm glad. She's wonderful."

"Isn't she though!"

Dana's career - to abuse a word - seemed to be headed for plenty o' nothing. For the first time Dana began to feel licked. Guys he'd worked with at Pasadena - Robert Preston, Laird Cregar, Victor Mature - had gone whizzing right by him into nice plump movie contracts.


Dana got a huge Victory garden planted.
Kathy, age 2 and a half, turned on the hose
and trotted off to play.
"Well, we can always use a swimming pool,"
groaned Dana, surveying floating seeds and soil.

 

 

 

 





Dana can buy plenty of watermelons with the $1,500,000 contract he's signed for 7 years with 20th and Goldwyn. "Fallen Angel" is his latest pic.


 

 

 



At 6 months, Stephen sat up in crib for first time. Proud mama yelped for Dana to hustle in and witness great event -- but baby fell out at papa's wild approach!

That summer, while Pasadena was closed, he worked at Neely Dickson's Theater. An agent named Lou Golder left word for him to call, and when they met Golder told him, "You're the best man to hit this town since Spencer Tracy in "The Last Mile." Dana signed a contract with Golder.

Golder got the likes of cameraman Gregg Toland and the Goldwyn studio's VP, Reeves Espy, to watch Dana perform at Pasadena. Before long, Sam Goldwyn ordered a screen test for Dana. 

In the projection room to view the test, he sat slumped between Mary and Mr. Goldwyn. The film started and Dana's heart subsided. "They're running somebody else's test first." Then he heard his own lines and shot out of his seat--"My God, do I look like that?"

The contract was signed. But then weeks turned to months. Months of marking time. Drawing paychecks and making tests. No pictures. But on the brighter side, he and Mary decided to take the plunge and get married.

And as luck would have it, the invitations were sent out and all was ready - and Dana was handed his first script, "The Westerner" which would star Gary Cooper. Dana was instructed to let his hair and beard grow. They were married at Mary's home, among friends who understood why the groom looked like a beachcomber. Three days later, Dana was on location. The first thing the director said to him was: "We've got too many beards around here.   Better shave yours off."

Dana and Mary rented a house near Aggie's so that son David could run back and forth between both places easily, making the changeover as painless as possible.

Goldwyn sold half of Dana's contract to 20th Century Fox, and for the next few years, Dana was wrapped around a pendulum, swinging between hope and despair. Every picture he made was going to be "it." Then he'd wake up and another dream would bite the dust.

Then came "Tobacco Road" - another small part, but definitely an A picture.
"You look very good," said John Ford.   Then came "Belle Star".
Again, compliments from the director. "You're a good actor. They should give you a lead."                           continue                   


 
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