Dana Wynter, best known as Becky Driscoll from 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the original, not the remake), died Thursday, May 5th 2011 from congestive heart failure at Ojai Valley Community Hospital’s Continuing Care Center at the age of 79.
Born Dagmar Winter in Berlin, Germany on June 8th 1931, Wynter began her acting career twenty years later in British films after leaving her pre-med studies at Rhodes University (she was the only female student in a class of 150 boys). Discovered by an American agent in London, she moved to New York City in 1953 where she appeared both on stage and television. Wynter moved further west to Hollywood in 1955 to a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox, and a Golden Globe award for ‘Most Promising Newcomer – Female’ that same year. The following year, she was cast in Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers as Becky Driscoll, the love interest of Dr. Miles Bennell, played by Kevin McCarthy. Though not the first choice to be cast (Anne Bancroft, Kim Hunter, Donna Reed were amongst the considered), Wynter and her other relative newcomer co-star won the roles due to a lower budget. Over several decades until the early 90’s, Wynter, called Hollywood’s “oasis of elegance”, appeared in films but the majority of her work was on television as a guest star or in a cameo.
Wynter was also a writer and wrote for Country Living, The Guardian (Grassroots column), The Irish Time, The National Review and other publications. She wrote the book Other People, Other Places: Memories of Four Continents.
Dana Wynter is survived by her son, Mark Bautzer, from her marriage to divorce lawyer to the stars Greg Bautzer who represented the likes of Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. According to her son, Wynter’s ashes will be scattered in Ireland, her other home outside of Ojai, California.