Rock sent me the sad word that yet another ‘50s character actor has died. It’s been a touch couple of weeks, what with Yvette Vicker’s long-dead body being discovered in her home, and actor William Campbell passing away.
Now Dana Wynter has passed on, as of May 5th. Originally appearing under the name of Dagmar Wynter (you can appreciate the name change), Ms. Wynter, born in Germany but raised in England, started with the usual bit parts for a wannabe ingénue. Her natural beauty was matched by an evident elegance and intelligence, however, and she soon began rising through the ranks, often playing noblewomen and doctors.
A few years into her career, Ms. Wynter garnered the female lead in the upper tier ‘50s sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers and earned her piece of immortality. *SPOILER ALERT* (Although, really, c’mon, the movie is 65 years old now) I remember my mom telling me how utterly shocked and horrified she was when Ms. Wynter’s character was taken over by the aliens. You didn’t see the female leads suffering such fates, especially in studio fare, very often in those days.
Sadly, the peak of Ms. Wynter’s career was short-lived. She parlayed that role into leads opposite Rock Hudson, James Cagney and Robert Taylor, and played a rather useless romantic lead in Sink the Bismark!, but none of these films were particularly successful. She also appeared in the gimmick flick The List of Adrian Messenger. Even so, rather predictably Ms. Wynter soon settled into a typical, if busy, journeyman career of episodic TV appearances. Her one starring role in a TV show was in a spy drama opposite Robert “Empire of the Ants” Lansing in 1966, but the program only lasted 18 episodes.
Ms. Wynter basically retired in the early ‘80s, but her face will remain familiar to sci-fi buffs and old TV show aficionados, via her appearances in such shows as Burke’s Law, Wagontrain, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Wild Wild West, Gunsmoke, The Invaders, It Takes a Chief, Get Smart, Love American Style, Marcus Welby M.D., The FBI, Hawaii Five-Oh, Ironside, Ellery Queen, Fantasy Island, The Rockford Files and many more.