Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Godspeed Dana Wynter

Dana Wynter, the female lead of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), passed on 5 May 2011 at the age of 79. The cause was congestive heart failure. Her co-star, Kevin McCarthy, had just died last year.

Dana Wynter was born on 8 June 1931 in Berlin, Germany. Her father was an English surgeon. She was raised in England and attended Rhodes University in South Africa with the intent of becoming a doctor. While there she discovered the theatre. She returned to England to take up acting.

Miss Wynter made her début on the screen in an uncredited role in the film Night Without Stars in 1951. Her first credited role was the same year, playing Marjorie Brewster in White Corridors. Over the next few years she appeared in such films as The Woman's Angle (1952), the classic action movie The Crimson Pirate (1952) and Knights of the Round Table (1953). She made her television début in 1953 in an episode of Robert Montgomery Presents. She would spend most of her career in television. In the Fifties she appeared on such shows as Suspense, The United States Steel Hour, Studio One, The 20th Century Fox Hour, and Playhouse 90. The latter half of the Fifties saw Dana Wynter do many films as well. Aside from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, she also appeared in  In Love and War (1958), Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), and Sink the Bismark (1960).

The Sixties saw Miss Wynter appear in the films On the Double (1961), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), If He Hollers, Let Him Go (1968), and Airport (1970). She was a regular on the TV series The Man Who Never Was, playing Eva Wainwright. She also guest starred on the TV shows The Virginian, Burke's Law, Wagon Train, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, 12 O'Clock High, Ben Casey, The Wild Wild West, Gunsmoke, and Get Smart.

In the Seventies Dana Wynter appeared on such shows as Marcus Welby M.D., The F.B.I., Hawaii Five-O, Ironside, Cannon, Ellery Queen, and The Rockford Files. She appeared in such films as Santee (1973) and Le Sauvage (1975).  From the Seventies into the Eighties she was a regular on the series Bracken, after which she appeared only in two episodes of Magnum P.I. and the reunion movie The Return of Ironside in 1993. In the Eighties she wrote a gossip column for the British newspaper The Guardian.

Dana Wynter was an exceedingly talented actress. Indeed, perhaps no better proof of this is to be had than her role in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Miss Wynter convincing played an American divorcee, with no trace of her English accent. In the movie Fräulein in 1958 she once more played with an accent other than her own--a light German accent. Over the years Miss Wynter would play a variety of roles in both movies and television, from her typical American divorcee in Invasion of the Body Snatchers to a rich, alcoholic, self confessed tramp in In Love and War (1958) to various English ladies and other nobility in many TV shows (an example being Lady Beatrice Marquand-Gaynesford in The Wild Wild West Episode "Night of the Two-Legged Buffalo). Although never a major movie star, Dana Wynter had the talent of one.

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