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 Birthday, Johnny Mercer!

In his 66 years, lyricist, songwriter and singer Johnny Mercer, born 106 years ago today in Savannah, Georgia, managed an astonishing number of achievements.

Mercer founded Capitol Records. He wrote lyrics for more than fifteen hundred songs. He was nominated for 19 Oscars (he won four). The USPS placed his portrait on a stamp. The man was a true legend. Very few songwriters have more entries in the Great American Songbook than does Mercer.

Johnny Mercer quote

The list of classic songs for which he wrote the words, the music or both is amazing: Lazy Bones, Hooray For Hollywood,” “Too Marvelous for Words,” “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” “And the Angels Sing,” “Fools Rush In,” “I Remember You,” “Skylark,” “That Old Black Magic,” “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), “Laura,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Satin Doll,” “Moon River,” “Summer Wind,”—and that’s leaving out literally dozens of memorable songs.

Happy birthday, Mr. Mercer, wherever you may be.