Dana Wynter, Kevin McCarthy in Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Dana Wynter herself didn’t care for her performance in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In fact, her son, Mark Bautzer, told the Los Angeles Times that Wynter didn’t think the role would come to define her and "she didn’t consider acting a worthy profession for an adult."
She could have fooled me. Wynter is flawless as the woman on the run in Body Snatchers, and she’s just as effective — and just as beautiful — in Lewis Gilbert’s war drama Sink the Bismarck! (1960), opposite Kenneth More. As Burt Lancaster’s bitchy wife, she manages to steal all of her scenes in George Seaton’s blockbuster Airport (1970).
Wynter’s role is mostly decorative in John Huston’s mystery-comedy The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), but hers is a refreshing presence, nevertheless.
Wynter’s own favorite movie was Henry Koster’s romantic war melodrama D-Day the Sixth of June (1956), which paired her up with friends Robert Taylor and Richard Todd.
A couple of other notable roles were those in Richard Brooks‘ Something of Value (1957), a tale of political intrigue and racism in Kenya, co-starring Rock Hudson and Sidney Poitier (interesting in that the white guy is the hero and the black guy is the hate-filled fanatic), and Henry Koster’s Fräulein (1958), as a German woman who hides an American soldier (Mel Ferrer) near the end of World War II.
Following The List of Adrian Messenger, Wynter acted in only five more features, the last of which was Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s Le Sauvage (1975), in which she supported Yves Montand and Catherine Deneuve.
Throughout the ’60s and ’70s she kept herself busy on television, mostly guest-starring in dozens of series and specials. Long before Helen Mirren, Wynter incarnated Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Levin’s 1982 TV movie The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, starring Christopher Baines and Catherine Oxenberg, and featuring old-timers Olivia de Havilland, Ray Milland, and Stewart Granger.
In later years, Wynter divided her time between the Upper Ojai area and County Wicklow, Ireland, where her ashes will be buried according to the Ojai Valley News. One of her off-screen passions, it was reported, was the defense of animal rights.
Now, Dana Wynter’s final impression of Invasion of the Body Snatchers?
"In your first picture, you’re so terrified you’re going to do the wrong thing that you just play everything straight. So it’s nothing I’m proud of. Now, I was happy to be in it, especially because of Kevin and because of Don, and it was a fun thing to do. But I’d just as soon forget it."
Source for Dana Wynter’s quotes about Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Tom Weaver’s I was a monster movie maker: conversations with 22 SF and horror filmmakers.
Dana Wynter photo via Doctor Macro.