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The Incomparable Clifton Webb

October 6, 2012

Tags: Dana Andrews, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Darryl Zanuck

Star of stage and screen
In his prime, Clifton Webb was a great song and dance man--on a par with Fred Astaire. When Otto Preminger wanted him to star in Laura, Darryl Zanuck was skeptical. He wanted the heavyweight actor Laird Cregar. But Webb's ascerbic wit stole the show, and he became a great star for Fox. Zanuck became quite fond of his star, and when the producer's daughter announced plans for a wedding, Zanuck asked Webb to teach him how to dance. Imagine Zanuck and Webb, cheek to cheek. Off screen Webb was not like the waspish Waldo Lydecker (his character in Laura). He was witty, to be sure, but also generous, recognizing early the talents of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean and encouraging both of them. Sitting Pretty includes all of Webb's unfinished autobiography, which--as you might imagine--is as elegant as the man. Dana Andrews learned a lot from his co-star in Laura and the two remained great friends.