'I was 16 at the time and my mother restarted her career while my father moved to Virginia, which was an extremely conservative state at the time.So because of that, my mother didn’t get a dime – a legal technicality meant that she could be sued on grounds of desertion because she was working in Connecticut.
Not Dana, who started her career at 21 playing a professional virgin (‘quite a stretch,’ as the straight-talking star drily remarks) on a daytime TV soap, won her Emmys for tough army nurse Colleen Mc Murphy in the 1988-91 TV mini-series ‘It was very clever of Marc to make Bree and Katherine clash because we’re the two control freaks in the story – and he was building on the history of me being offered the role of Bree first,’ says Dana, laughing at the mischief-making. ‘I thought, “This concept is so retro, what happened to feminism?” And in fact a lot of people had doubts about the show to begin with, because they thought that female-friendship thing had already been done with The paradox, however, is that in real life this self-possessed 52-year-old who has never married or had children is as far from being a housewife – and especially a desperate one – as you can possibly get.She dislike the term ‘cougar’, however, for a sexy older woman who dates younger men, because ‘it sounds predatory, which is really not my experience,’ she explains.‘I date a lot of younger men, but they are always the ones who approach me.'My mother is 80 years old and still works as an interior designer, so I was raised with a very strong work ethic.
I didn’t think that being a wife and mother made her happy, so I remember saying to her when I was 16: “I’m never going to have kids.” She said, “Oh, you’ll change your mind”, but I never did.
Ironically, Dana (pronounced Dayna) was originally offered the part of Bree before her great friend Marcia Cross, but she turned it down because she wanted to avoid typecasting after playing a similar character in a TV drama called ’ creator Marc Cherry was so keen on wooing this two-time Emmy award-winner, however, that he came back with the offer of the new character of Katherine, explaining that he wanted her to ‘out-Bree Bree’.
What actress could resist such a bitchfest challenge?
‘My brother was at college by then but my sister and I went to live with my father, which was unusual for the time, and I sort of became the woman of the house before going to university.
And that’s another reason why I didn’t feel the need to get married – I felt like I had already done it,’ she says.
My last boyfriend was 13 years younger and for six months I fought him off, saying, “You’re too young”.