Modern Screen magazine, Nov 1945  cont'd.

Then Howard Hawks picked him for the part of a hood in another Gary Cooper movie, "Ball of Fire."

"He can't play gangsters," Sam Goldwyn protested. But Hawks got his way. Then came "The Oxbow Incident", starring Henry Fonda, and the total effect was beginning to pile up. Darryl Zanuck took notice, and Dana was cast with Tyrone Power in "Crash Dive". The picture was a smash, and so was the second lead. Fan mail started pouring in: "When are you going to get the girl?"
Instead of the girl, he got "North Star", capped by "Up in Arms" with Danny Kaye, who'd have washed out not one but ten straight men. Dana almost took a suspension on that one, but Lewis Milestone was plugging him for "The Purple Heart." Dana decided it would pay to be a good boy.

Well, you saw him in "Purple Heart," so you figure out why they stuck him into "Wing and a Prayer" as third to Don Ameche and William Eythe. That turned the trick. Dana'd been good long enough. He rolled up his sleeves for battle.
The prize was "Laura." No one could play the detective better than he could and, so help him, he was going to get it if it meant tangling with everyone up to Zanuck.

The man Dana harassed with daily attentions was Otto Preminger, producer-director of "Laura."  

Otto finally gave him a hint of where the trouble lay. "Zanuck thinks you're a fine actor. But you've never played a romantic part."
Translated, that meant they questioned his sex appeal. Well, you can't go around assuring people you have it, but what about the fan letters, swelling in volume and clamor, repeating, "For heaven's sake, why don't they give you the girl?"

What finally broke them down, only the front office can say, but two things may have contributed: Dana and other Fox stars made personal appearances shortly after "Purple Heart" had been released. No one realized how hard he'd hit in that movie, but when Dana walked out on stage, the roof came off.

There was also the afternoon he ran into Mrs. Zanuck. "I'd like to ask you a plain question," she said. "I've always thought you were a swell actor, but certainly not the romantic type.  When I see you face to face, somehow I change my mind. What makes the difference?"
First he said thank you. Then he tried to explain. "When you're cast as the tried-and-true pal who's turned down by the girl, that's how you have to play it.   If you let any quality show through that might attract her, you're a dishonest actor."
Mrs. Zanuck looked thoughtful. "That never occurred to me."
On Monday he got the part.

After all the years of waiting, "Laura" was it. The road had been far longer and rockier than he'd ever dreamed, but he'd finally made it.

Along the way there's been sadness and happiness. Dad never saw his son on the screen. He died while Dana was making "Lucky Cisco Kid," and before either of the earlier pictures had been released to the public. But not before the hometown boy was being well publicized in the local press.

Twomey lived to make a generous return on his investment and to see his faith in Dana vindicated. Dana was on location when he died.

They bought their house in the valley, the "kind of house for a family to grow up in." The very minute you walk in, you know what he means.

It's the kind of house that gives you a sense of peace. Wide, cool rooms, furnished for comfort without ostentation. Polished wood and soft chintzes that don't jump out at you. High windows that bring the green lawns and shade trees indoors.
There are three children now to play with Michael, the cocker spaniel, under the trees.
The only trouble they ever have with 3-year-old Kathy is when they reprimand David. The two form a mutual admiration society. Kathy's been known to shake a protesting finger at her parents, "You mustn't talk to David like that." Which, of course, breaks them up and plays hob with the discipline.

The only trouble they ever had with Stephen was when he was born. He arrived a week early. Waited till Dana's car was in the shop, till the night he took Mary's car to go see some Russian films with Lewis Milestone. There was nothing to worry about. The baby wasn't due. But when Dana dropped Milestone off at home, a frantic head was stuck out at the window. "Mr. Andrews is to call home immediately!"
Dana dashed to the phone and back to the car. It was raining. He escaped a collision by the skin of his fender. Mary waited on a couch downstairs, and he got her into the car and down to the hospital -- just 14 minutes before Stephen squalled his way into the world.

Dana's mother now lives in comfort with Mary and Dana. Baby Stephen's her special charge. Their only trouble with Mother is when they have chicken. Unless they watch, she still takes the neck and back. "Force of habit," she apologizes. "From the time when there was only one chicken and so many hungry mouths."
Kathy looks worried. "Were they very hungry, Granny?"
"Oh, just when they sat down. They never got up hungry."
"With just one chicken?" demands the practical David.
"Well, there were lots of other things. Bread and greens and potatoes. We did very nicely."
"I know," Kathy pipes. "God had his arms around you. Feels good, doesn't it, Granny?"
Over the heads of their family Mary and Dana smile at each other. It feels good, all right--whether you put it Granny's way or some other.


home  |  articles menu  |  next article