A biography of the great film noir actor

Dana and his wife Mary Todd

The Ox-Bow Incident

In The Purple Heart Dana, Farley Granger, Richard Conte face Japanese torture together

LauraThe film that made him a star


A Walk in the Sun

As Fred Derry, the returning bombadier in Best Years of Our Lives

Best Years of Our Lives: Flying off the soda fountain counter to fight an unpatriotic customer

With Joan Crawford in Daisy Kenyon

In Elia Kazan's Boomerang

With Gene Tierney in Where the Sidewalk Ends



With Ann Francis in Brainstorm

Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews

ENDORSEMENTS:

"With countless others, I have always admired Dana Andrews; now, Carl Rollyson has shown, in this scholarly and immensely readable book, why our admiration is not misplaced." -- Donald Spoto, author of biographies of Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn


"The fierce ambitions of Carver Dana Andrews, son of a Baptist preacher, might well have been imagined by Horatio Alger, Jr.-- or Samuel Goldwyn-- but not the hidden costs behind those achievements. Carl Rollyson compassionately captures the man behind the movie star." --Marion Meade, author of biographies of Buster Keaton and Woody Allen

“Always understated and all too underrated, Dana Andrews now has a definitive biography of his own.”--David Stenn, author of Clara Bow: Runnin’ Wild


REVIEWS

Wall Street Journal

Dana Andrews had a long career as a leading man in motion pictures, a business in which longevity is not easily maintained. Over the course of 45 years, he worked with top-ranked directors (John Ford, Elia Kazan, Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, Otto Preminger, William Wyler) and played opposite a who's who of glamorous women (Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Maureen O'Hara, Susan Hayward, Gene Tierney). Despite these platinum credentials, Andrews is seldom listed among the legendary male stars of the studio system, the Grants and the Gables, the Cagneys and the Coopers. Even considering the high wattage of the stars he worked amid, how can Dana Andrews be considered second-tier?

At his best, Andrews embodied an era, the contemporary audience's concept of a 1940s man. There is an ambiguity to the image, the required mask of a confident male. (He has been cited as a possible prototype for Jon Hamm's Don Draper character in the television hit "Mad Men.") Andrews's eyes are alert, his lips pulled tight, his suit buttoned up, his overall demeanor calm, possibly indifferent, but he nevertheless suggests inner turmoil, reflecting the contained violence of midcentury America. Carl Rollyson understands the appeal of Andrews and the relevance of his image and explores both in his insightful biography "Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews."

Carver Dana Andrews (1909-92) was born in a small Mississippi town and, after age 5, grew up in Texas. His father was a "charismatic" Elmer-Gantry-ish preacher, Mr. Rollyson reports, and his mother a homemaker with a "forgiving nature." Andrews was the third of 13 children. (His younger brother Billy became "Steve Forrest," appearing in such movies as "Flaming Star" with Elvis Presley.) In high school, Andrews began acting in school plays, and, after the family relocated to California, he was hired by the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse.

It was inevitable that Hollywood would notice him: The young Dana Andrews was ruggedly handsome and possessed a rich, seductive baritone voice. (Not wishing to be stuck in musicals, Andrews kept his excellent singing a secret for many years.) He signed a movie contract with Samuel Goldwyn on Nov. 28, 1938, and in 1940 made his official debut in a Gary Cooper hit, "The Westerner." By 1943, Andrews secured star status with a memorable performance as an innocent lynch-mob victim in William Wellman's "The Ox-Bow Incident."

As World War II began, Andrews was in the right place at the right time. He was a married man with two dependent children and thus exempt from military service. He was available to play two basic masculine types of the era: the tough guys of film noir (Preminger's "Laura," and "Fallen Angel") and the heroic soldiers of the war ("Crash Dive," " A Walk in the Sun"). In 1946 Andrews reached his peak with William Wyler's postwar hit, "The Best Years of Our Lives." His portrait of the decorated bombardier who returns home to a job as a soda clerk and a cheap wife he married after knowing her for only 20 days is the definitive picture of a veteran trying to adjust to civilian life.

In writing "Hollywood Enigma," Mr. Rollyson had the cooperation of the Andrews family, especially the children of his second wife, Mary. (Andrews's first wife, Janet, died from pneumonia following childbirth in 1935; their son David would die at age 30 of complications from brain surgery.) Mr. Rollyson quotes from interviews, letters and Andrews's own diaries, which allow the author to discuss tactfully a major issue: For a great deal of his life and career, Dana Andrews was a serious alcoholic.

Andrews documented his feelings of self-doubt. ("Fear—fear—fear, I'm all tied up inside," he wrote in 1938.) His drinking problem was well-known in the business and apparently did not render him incapable of working. Don Ameche, a co-star on "Wing and a Prayer," marveled at his professionalism. "Drunk or sober . . . he never misses a word."

Despite his personal ordeals, Andrews worked not only in film but also in radio ("I Was a Communist for the FBI," 1952-53) and television (the soap opera "Bright Promise," 1969-72 as well as episodes of "General Electric Theatre" and "The Twilight Zone"). When movie work dried up later in his life, he returned to the stage, appearing on Broadway in a two-year run of William Gibson's hit play "Two for the Seesaw." Mr. Rollyson also details Andrews's involvement with the Screen Actors Guild. Elected president in 1963, he achieved the first affirmative-action agreement with producers and the first foreign-residuals agreements.

It was 1969 before Andrews became fully sober, an achievement that Mr. Rollyson credits to Mary's firm guidance, the actor's almost ruthless ability to self-evaluate and his sense of "mission and accomplishment." The original psychological motivations for drinking, as he explained to an interviewer in 1972, eventually became moot. "You can start for psychological reasons, but it's the alcohol that's the fly in the ointment," he said. "Ask my friends . . . they all ask the psychiatrist the same question. Well, now we've got all the psychological turmoil over, can I then drink? . . . And the answer is, 'no you can't.' "

"Hollywood Enigma" teaches us to appreciate an actor whose standing in the Hollywood pantheon should clearly be reassessed. As Mr. Rollyson clearly understands, Dana Andrews has nowhere to go but up.
—Ms. Basinger is chairwoman of the department of film studies at Wesleyan University. Her latest book is "The Star Machine."


Library Journal

Dana Andrews (1909–92) was an overlooked, underrated actor, despite performances in classic 1940s films such as The Best Years of Our Lives, Laura, The Ox-Bow Incident, and Elia Kazan’s Boomerang! Rollyson (journalist, Baruch Coll., CUNY; Biography: A User’s Guide) describes Andrews as a master at portraying “conflicted emotion,” whose adoption of a “male mask” made him ideally suited to film noir. Unfortunately, this mask also concealed his addiction to alcohol, which increasingly limited his career, ultimately leading to parts in shoddy B-films, dinner theater, and even a role in a television soap opera. Rollyson tells a sympathetic account of a decent, hardworking actor who championed liberal causes (though his minister father supported the Ku Klux Klan), fought Hollywood’s blacklist, and brought reforms in his stint as president of the Screen Actors Guild. Finally, with great effort, Andrews overcame alcoholism and served as an advocate and public face for education and understanding of this debilitating illness.
Verdict Drawing on access to Andrews’s family and his extensive personal archives, this biography provides an admiring but unflinching look at Andrews’s life and career. Recommended for fans of Hollywood’s Golden Age. [This is the Turner Classic Movie channel’s September Book of the Month.—Ed.]—Stephen Rees, formerly with Levittown Lib., PA


BLOGS ABOUT DANA ANDREWS


Selected Works: Click on titles for reviews and photographs

e.g. Fiction, History, Magazine Articles, etc. goes here
Carl Rollyson not only provides an introduction to her essays, novels, plays, films, diaries, and uncollected work published in various periodicals, he now has a lens through which to reevaluate classic texts such as Against Interpretation and On Photography, providing both students and advanced scholars a renewed sense of her importance and impact.
This first biography of Susan Sontag (1933–2004) is now fully revised and updated, providing an even more intimate portrayal of the influential writer’s life and career. The authors base this revision on Sontag’s newly released private correspondence, including emails, and the letters and memoirs of those who knew her best.
Chapters on Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, Martha Gellhorn, Norman Mailer, Rebecca West, Susan Sontag, Sylvia Plath, Amy Lowell, Michael Foot, Jill Craigie, Dana Andrews, Walter Brennan, and Willam Faulkner.
A Private Life of Michael Foot adopts a no holds barred approach to biography, leaving a political figure stripped bare, and revealing a deeply complex, introverted man for all to see.

The first biography of the prodigiously hard-working actor who embodied the Western ideal
A documentary approach to the life and legend. With details of her childhood, her young adult years, her ascent to superstardom, and the hour by hour moments leading to her tragic early death, this volume supplements—and, in some cases, corrects—the accounts of previous biographies.
A riveting examination of Amy Lowell’s private life and lover, Ada Russell, who did so much to make Lowell’s career possible The startling discovery of a new Amy Lowell lover who perished on the Lusitania. A compelling window into Lowell’s gregarious character. Concise readings of Lowell’s most important poems reveal the depth and range of her erotic imagination. An astute analysis of the way biographers and critics have maligned Lowell as a person and poet.
A revisionist view of the poet, her fellow writers, and their biographers. In this series of essays, beginning with a look at how her own biographers have behaved, I have tried to re-conceive the familiar anecdotes and episodes, circling back again and again to certain incidents and contretemps, as the point of view shifts from one writer to another. As a kind of coda to my quarrel with biographers is an essay, “Remembering Amy Lowell,” in which I assess the varying degrees to which the memoirs of her present a credible person and poet. I have not paused to define in any great detail terms such as Imagism, although I’ve included an essay on the Imagists in an appendix as well as the full texts of the poems discussed in this book. These appendices provide a context for the discussion of Lowell and her contemporaries and serve, I hope, as an inviting introduction to her work.
A biography of the great film noir actor. Here at last is the complete story of a great actor, his difficult struggle to overcome alcoholism while enjoying the accolades of his contemporaries, a successful term as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and the love of family and friends that never deserted him. Based on diaries, letters, home movies, and other documents, this biography explores the mystery of a poor boy from Texas who made his Hollywood dream come true even as he sought a life apart from the limelight and the backbiting of contemporaries jockeying for prizes and prestige. Called “one of nature’s noblemen” by fellow actor Norman Lloyd, Dana Andrews emerges from Hollywood Enigma as an admirable American success story, fighting his inner demons and ultimately winning.
Here, at last, is the true story of Sylvia Plath's last days and her estate's efforts to shape her husband's role in her death and the world's understanding of Plath and her work. Here, too, is a new Sylvia Plath, immersed in popular culture and proto-feminism, presaging the way we live now.I wrote this biography because there were aspects of Sylvia Plath that other biographers have overlooked or misunderstood. But as I wrote I re-read my predecessors. I checked to see how others had handled the same material. I think my practice in doing so is worth mentioning because I have dispensed with a good deal of the boilerplate that most biographers feel compelled to supply. I say little, for example, about the backgrounds of Plath’s parents. I don’t describe much of Smith College or its history. I do very little scene setting. Previous biographers do all this and more, and what strikes me about their work is how distracting all that background is for someone wishing to have a vision of Sylvia Plath, of what she was like and what she stood for. To put it another way, since earlier biographers have done so much to contextualize Plath, I have not wanted to repeat that exercise, as valuable as it can be for the Plath novice. Instead, I have concentrated on the intensity of the person who was Sylvia Plath, restricting my discussion of her writing only to the truly crucial pieces that advance my narrative. I have tried to write a narrative so focused that a reader new to Plath biography may feel some of the exhilaration and despair that marked the poet’s life. I wrote this biography because there were aspects of Sylvia Plath that other biographers have overlooked or misunderstood. But as I wrote I re-read my predecessors. I checked to see how others had handled the same material. I think my practice in doing so is worth mentioning because I have dispensed with a good deal of the boilerplate that most biographers feel compelled to supply. I say little, for example, about the backgrounds of Plath’s parents. I don’t describe much of Smith College or its history. I do very little scene setting. Previous biographers do all this and more, and what strikes me about their work is how distracting all that background is for someone wishing to have a vision of Sylvia Plath, of what she was like and what she stood for. To put it another way, since earlier biographers have done so much to contextualize Plath, I have not wanted to repeat that exercise, as valuable as it can be for the Plath novice. Instead, I have concentrated on the intensity of the person who was Sylvia Plath, restricting my discussion of her writing only to the truly crucial pieces that advance my narrative. I have tried to write a narrative so focused that a reader new to Plath biography may feel some of the exhilaration and despair that marked the poet’s life.
The first biography that truly shows the actress at work.-- Ellen Burstyn A new edition, revised and updated, from University Press of Mississippi. In American popular culture Marilyn Monroe has evolved in stature from Hollywood sex symbol to tragic legend. Most books about Monroe stress the sensational events that surrounded her-this book is the first to deal honestly and critically with Monroe as an actress, evaluating her moves as crucial forces in the shaping of her identity. Through careful examination of her performances, from her small appearances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve to her memorable roles in Bus Stop, Some Like It Hot, and the The Misfits, the author traces her development from cover girl innocent to an actress devoted to her craft. Based on extensive interviews with many of Monroe's colleagues, close friends, and mentors, this comprehensive, critically balanced study describes her use of Method acting as well as her instruction with Michael Chekhov and, later, the Strasbergs. Carl Rollyson has written a refreshing analysis and appreciation of Marilyn Monroe's enduring and, until now, underestimated gifts as a creative artist.
America's most controversial radical playwright. Through diaries, letters, government files, and interviews Carl Rollyson draws a vital and vibrant portrait of the life, the work, and the legend of Lillian Hellman, America's most controversial radical playwright. Rollyson explores the sources and backgrounds of her best-selling memoirs, the development of her politics, her successful screenwriting career, and her famous appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He provides entertaining and informative accounts of her feud with Mary McCarthy, her many love affairs and surprising friendships. He also provides a provocative and compelling portrayal of this complex and brilliant woman, who was called everything from a "viper", "a goddam liar" to "an empathetic genius with a highly original and penetrating mind." Near death, Hellman spoke of being blocked; this biography will show what got in her way.
The first biography of Gellhorn, relying on key archival sources and interviews with her friends and associates. Martha Gellhorn died in February 1998, just shy of her 90th birthday. Well before her death, she had become a legend. She reported on wars from Spain in the 1930s to Panama in the 1980s, and her travel books have become classics. Her marriage to Ernest Hemingway and affairs with legendary lovers like H. G. Wells, and her relationship with two presidents, Roosevelt and Kennedy, reflect her campaigns against tyranny and deprivation, and her outrage at the corruption and cruelty of modern governments. This controversial and acclaimed biography portrays a vibrant and troubled woman who never tired of fighting for causes she considered just.
Delves beneath the surface to examine the forces that made Sontag an international icon, exploring her public persona and private passions, including the strategies behind her meteoric rise to fame and her political moves.
The first book to survey the broad range of Sontag's work. Includes a comprehensive glossary of Sontag's extensive allusions to literary figures and ideas.
Twenty-five years of writing about female icons and biography. Female Icons: Marilyn Monroe to Susan Sontag Bits and pieces that resulted not only in a biography of Marilyn Monroe but also in much of the work subsequently done on Lillian Hellman, Martha Gellhorn, Rebecca West, Susan Sontag, and on the nature of biography itself. This book includes New York Sun book reviews dealing with female icons such as Mary Stuart, Mary Wollstonecraft, The Brontës, Marie Curie, Harriet Tubman, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Sylvia Plath.
The standard biography of one of the 20th century's greatest prose stylists.. What is new in this second edition of Carl Rollyson's standard biography? It begins with a portrait that attempts to evoke the living person in all her dimensions. It concludes with an interview with one of her favorite secretaries, Elizabeth Leyshon, who eluded him in the 1990s but provided new insights into her employer's character for this book. The biography's new title emphasizes that Rebecca West was a prophet-one not always appreciated in her own day. As early as 1917, she understood where the world was headed and realized that the revolution in Russia held out false hope. Because she took this view as a socialist, those on the left scorned her as an apostate, whereas she understood that Communism would result in a disaster for the British left. Readers wishing to gauge the range of West's fiction and nonfiction should read Woman as Artist and Thinker, published by iUniverse. Rollyson has read his words anew, sharpening sentences, omitting words and paragraphs-sometimes entire sections-in order to provide a refreshing, more engaging, and spirited account of one of the world's major writers.
The first book to explore the entire corpus of her extraordinary career.
Religion, politics, and the writing of biographies.
Filmmaker, feminist,, wife--a twentieth century woman.
The first literary biography of Norman Mailer, updated and revised
Essays in Biography is a play on words conveying an attempt to explore the nature of biography in pieces about the history of the genre and in portrayals of biographers (Plutarch, Leon Edel, and W. A. Swanberg), literary figures (Lillian Hellman, Jack London), philosophers and critics (Leo Strauss and Hippolyte Taine), political figures (Winston Churchill and Napoleon), and artists (Rembrandt and Rubens).
For those addicted to reading biography, enhancing their pleasure by providing insight (or you might say, the inside word) on how biographies are put together.
Provocative reviews of American subjects, originally appearing in The New York Sun.
A candid and revealing account, by an expert in the minefield of the biographer’s contentious work
A terrific companion for biography writers and lovers.-- James McGrath Morris, editor of the monthly "The Biographer's Craft"