Happy 108th Birthday, Dana Andrews!

Actor Dana Andrews was born Carver Dana Andrews near Collins, Mississippi, 108 years ago today. Here are 10 DA Did-You-Knows:

  • Andrews was the third of 13 children. His father, a Baptist minister, moved the family to Huntsville, Texas, when Andrews was five years old.
  • In college, Andrews studied business administration but quit school to take as a bookkeeper with Gulf Oil. After a couple of years, he decided the business life wasn’t for him and he hitchhiked his way to southern California with his sights set on a career as a singer and actor.
  • Andrews didn’t break in to the movies until nine years after he’d arrived in Los Angeles. In the meantime, he supported himself as a school bus driver, a stock boy, an orange picker, a ditch-digger and by pumping gas at a Van Nuys service station.
  • Andrews joined the Pasadena Community Playhouse, where he studied and appeared in many live productions, and it was because of his work there that he was signed by producer Samuel Goldwyn.
  • Andrews’ movie debut came in 1940, a year in which he had small roles in four pictures, including The Westerner, which starred Gary Cooper. He would go on to appear in 75 feature films (and more than 25 television programs) in a career that spanned five decades.
  • Andrews’ brother, Steve Forrest, also enjoyed a long and successful career as an actor.
  • Andrews struggled with a drinking problem for much of his adult life. Though it is said he didn’t let his drinking impact his work, eventually producers became hesitant to hire him and his career began to decline.
  • In the late 1960s, Andrews gave up drinking. “Finally, I said to myself, ‘You’re a miserable man,'” he said. “‘Whether or not you want to remain miserable is up to you.’ So I quit.” He went on to serve on the National Council on Alcoholism and even filmed a public service announcement in 1972 in which he was open about his own struggles with drinking.
  • In the 1960s, after reading a how-to book on the subject, Andrews began to invest in real estate. He later claimed he made more money in real estate than he ever did as an actor.
  • Despite appearing in a number of pictures that are now considered classics, among them Laura (1944) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Andrews was never nominated for an Academy Award.

Happy birthday, Dana Andrews, wherever you may be!

Dana Andrews

Happy 96th Birthday, Gene Tierney!

The lovely Gene Tierney was born 96 years ago today in Brooklyn, New York. Here are GT Did-You-Knows:

  • Tierney’s childhood was one of privilege. Her father was a successful insurance broker, her mother a former teacher. She sometimes lived with her grandparents in Connecticut, attending St. Margaret’s School in Waterbury, Connecticut, and the Unquowa School in Fairfield. She later attended finishing schools in Switzerland and Farmington, CT.
  • At 17, Tierney visited Los Angeles. Her striking beauty caught director Anatole Litvak‘s eye during a visit to the Warner Brothers studio (her cousin worked there) and she was offered a contract. Her parents urged her to turn it down, due to the low salary and the fact that they envisioned a more high-society path for her.
  • Gene Tierney was a debutante, making her society debut in September 24, 1938, but society life didn’t interest her and she resolved to be an actress. She began theatrical studies and was a protégée of Broadway producer-director George Abbott.
  • She made her Broadway debut in a small role in What a Life! (1938) that saw her carrying a bucket of water across the stage. A Variety reviewer wrote of her performance, “Miss Tierney is certainly the most beautiful water carrier I’ve ever seen!”
  • Tierney went on to appear in a handful of other Broadway shows, garnering larger roles and positive reviews each time. In 1939, she signed a six-month contract with Columbia Pictures and was slated to star in National Velvet (1944), but when the picture was delayed, she returned to Broadway to star in The Male Animal, which was a big hit and led to a contract with 20 Century-Fox and her motion picture debut, in The Return of Frank James (1940), opposite Henry Fonda.
  • Tierney wrote poetry throughout her life; she first saw one of poems published in her high school newspaper.
  • Tierney struggled with manic depression throughout her adult life. While shooting The Left Hand of God (1955), her costar, Humphrey Bogart, whose sister had struggled with mental illness, urged her to seek medical help.
  • Tierney spent time in various institutions and underwent multiple shock treatments against her will. She was thereafter an outspoken critic of shock treatment therapy.
  • Tierney was married twice—to fashion designer Oleg Cassini and oil baron W. Howard Lee—and had romantic relationships with many other prominent men, among them John F. Kennedy, Prince Aly Khan and Tyrone Power.
  • Tierney, who took up smoking to lower her voice—“I sounded like an angry Minnie Mouse,” she is reported to have said after seeing herself on screen for the first time—remained a heavy smoker throughout her life and died of emphysema in 1999.

Happy birthday, Gene Tierney, wherever you may be!

Gene Tierney