Milam County Historical Commission - Milam County, TX
Statue of Ben Milam at Milam County, TX Courthouse
Old Junior High School Building, Rockdale, TX
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Milam County Historical Commission
Milam County, Texas
Requests for Info
Received via Website

Elizabeth Barranca

Seeking information on
Dana Andrews...any exhibits or artifacts in any museums, library, etc?


per phone, I advised her that I would post this request and hopefully someone would have info. Email sent to members.


Linda Whorton -  lindamorningdawn(AT)aol(DOT)com
Newsletter Editor, Milam County Genealogical Society

Elizabeth Barranca: I found the following story in the archives of The Rockdale Reporter. Mike Brown wrote it September 12,

There is also attached below another story by Mike about Dr. Rollyson when he was doing research on this book earlier, in 2010.

Hope this answers some questions for you.
Linda Whorton
Newsletter editor, Milam County Genealogical Society


"Best years of his (young) life

Author discusses his best seller on actor Dana Andrews

Reporter Editor

Dana Andrews, who resided briefly in Rockdale as a child, would go on to star in The Best Years of Our Lives, an iconic film of the World War II generation.

It’s ironic that he always looked back on his brief time in Rockdale as the best years of his young life.

That’s just one of the stories related by Dr. Carl Rollyson, of City University of New York and author of a new biography on the prolific actor, at a Friends of the Library reception Sunday afternoon at the Patterson Civic Center.

“That’s what he always told people,” Dr. Rollyson said. “The best days of his childhood were spent in Rockdale.”
‘ENIGMA’—The book, “Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews,” has been a surprise best seller in its category.
“It’s been No. 1 to No. 3 in the movies category,” Dr. Rollyson said. “And that’s having to compete with a new Kirk Douglas book.”

Dr. Carl Rollyson discussed his new book on former Rockdalian Dana Andrews. Bottom (L-R), Sam McKinney, Shelby Thomason, Kevin Cooke performed a play about George Sessions Perry.
Reporter/Mike Brown

Dr. Rollyson researched part of his book in Rockdale, mostly at the city library where he immersed himself in microfilm files of The Rockdale Reporter between 1916 and 1918, the years when the future film star’s father, Rev. C. F. Andrews, was pastor of First Baptist Church.

And Dr. Rollyson hit a research gold mine.

The Reporter, published and edited in those years by John Esten Cooke, covered extensively Rev. C. F. Andrews’ crusades against drinking and the “sinful influence of the movies.”

The newspaper went so far as to reprint, in its entirety, one of Rev. Andrews’ sermons.

Ironically, as Dr. Rollyson pointed out, Dana Andrews became an alcoholic and a movie star.

FORCED OUT—Some in Sunday’s audience wanted to know the details behind a whispered-about scandal that led Rev. C. F. Andrews to leave Rockdale. Dr. Rollyson read the relevant passage in his book and it turned out to be mostly about church politics.

Dr. Rollyson noted Rev. Andrews’ perpetual crusades and campaigns resulted in a small-but-powerful faction of the congregation—about 40 in number— becoming passionately opposed to the pastor.

While the majority, about 300, supported Andrews, the church eventually thought the schism serious enough that it attempted to reconcile the two factions.

When that failed, Rev. Andrews submitted his resignation and moved on.

Dr. Rollyson did drop a hint that Rev. Andrews “was rather susceptible to women in his congregation” but let it go at that.

REDEMPTION—Dr. Rollyson obviously admires his famous subject, both as an actor and a human being.

He pointed out that Andrews overcame his alcoholism, using his family’s famous willpower.

“He quit drinking the same way he quit smoking,” Dr. Rollyson said. “He just flat stopped.”

The author hopes his book will introduce a new generation to Andrews’ considerable talents and cause some critics to take a second look at the actor who enjoyed a successful half-century career but was somehow “under
the radar” of superstardom.

“He was a star who refused to be anything other than himself, and paid a rather heavy price for his refusal, but still managed to remain his own man,” Dr. Rollyson said.

PLAY—Three young actors, Sam McKinney, Shelby Thomason and Kevin Cooke, read a short play based on Rockdale author George Sessions Perry.

The play, set in 1937 on Perry’s Rockdale front porch, was written by Dr. Robert Cowser of The University of Tennessee at Martin."


Story in 2010:

"Carl Rollyson, journalism professor at Baruch College of the City University of New York, will host a program on actor Dana Andrews from, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4 (2010) at the city library.

Rollyson, is writing a biography of Andrews. The program is entitled “Dana Andrews: The Road From Rockdale to Hollywood.”

Andrews lived in Rockdale as a child in the World War I era. His father, Rev. C. F. Andrews, was pastor of First Baptist Church.

The Andrews family had 13 children.

Dana Andrews was born Carver Dana Andrews on a farmstead outside Collins, Covington County, Mississippi.

The family subsequently moved to Huntsville, Texas, where his younger siblings (including actor Steve Forrest) were born.

Andrews attended college at Sam Houston State University and also studied business administration in Houston, working briefly as an accountant for Gulf & Western.

In 1931, he travelled to Los Angeles, California seeking opportunities as a singer. He worked at various jobs to earn a living, including pumping gas at a filling station before getting his big break in films.

He was of Hollywood’s major stars in the 1940s and continued acting into the 1980s.

He had a starring role, with Fredric March and Myrna Loy, in William Wyler’s “The Best Years of Our Lives,” one of the most honored films of the 1940s and still regarded as the definitive American movie dealing with returning World War II veterans.

He starred in The Ox-Bow Incident, an “anti-western” filmed by maverick director William Wellman, which has become a cult.

He also appeared in “Laura”, “Airport, 1975” and more than 70 other films. Andrews died in 1992 at age 83.

Rollyson has also written biographies on Marilyn Monroe, Norman Mailer, Pablo Picasso and Marie Curie.
“I am excited about meeting people in Rockdale who may have stories to tell about what it was like to grow up in Rockdale in the years Dana and his family resided there,” he said.

“I don’t imagine there are any contemporaries of Dana Andrews left but there are certainly the ancestors from those contemporaries,” he added."

Linda Whorton
Newsletter Editor, Milam County Genealogical Society