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|Born||James William Ercolani
June 8, 1936
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
James William Ercolani (born June 8, 1936), known by his stage name James Darren, is an Italian-American television and film actor, television director, and singer.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 8, 1936, Darren began his career as a teen idol, having been discovered by talent agent and casting director Joyce Selznick. This encompassed roles in films, most notably his role as Moondoggie in Gidget in 1959, as well as a string of pop hits for Colpix Records, the biggest of which was "Goodbye Cruel World" (#3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961). It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Another sizeable hit was "Her Royal Majesty" (#6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962). He is also featured in one of the Scopitone series of pop music video jukebox films ("Because You're Mine").
James Darren is not related to Bobby Darin. This confusion sometimes arises because: their names are pronounced similarly, they are the same age, they both started their careers as teen idols with similarly styled songs, both later sang some of the same standard pop/jazz ballads, and they are both associated with Gidget. James starred in "Gidget" films as Gidget's (Sandra Dee) love interest. In real life, Bobby was the love interest: he married Sandra Dee. During this time, he also appeared as a guest star on the popular ABC-TV sitcom The Donna Reed Show.
Darren's role in the 1961 World War II film The Guns of Navarone was an attempt to break out of his teen image. He was the singing voice of Yogi Bear in the 1964 animated film, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!, on the song "Ven-e, Ven-o, Ven-a". Prior to that, he was the singing and speaking voice of "Jimmy Darrock" on an episode of The Flintstones. He then achieved success co-starring as impulsive scientist and adventurer Tony Newman in the science fiction television series, The Time Tunnel (1966–1967).
In the 1970s, Darren appeared as a celebrity panelist on Match Game.
Later Darren had a regular role as Officer James Corrigan on the television police drama T. J. Hooker from 1983–1986. Subsequently he worked as a director on many action-based television series, including Hunter, The A-Team, and Nowhere Man, as well as dramas such as Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place.
In 1998, he achieved renewed popularity as a singer through his appearances on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the role of holographic crooner and advice-giver Vic Fontaine; many of his performances on the show were re-recorded for the album This One's from the Heart (1999). The album showed Darren, a close friend of Frank Sinatra, comfortably singing in the Sinatra style; the 2001 follow-up Because of You showed similar inspiration from Tony Bennett.
Many compilation albums also exist.
- Rumble on the Docks (1956)
- Operation Mad Ball (1957)
- The Brothers Rico (1957)
- Gunman's Walk (1958)
- Gidget (1959)
- The Gene Krupa Story (1959)
- Because They're Young (1960)
- All the Young Men (1960)
- Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960)
- Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961)
- The Guns of Navarone (1961)
- Diamond Head (1963)
- Gidget Goes to Rome (1963)
- The Lively Set (1964)
- For Those Who Think Young (1964)
- Venus in Furs (1969)
- Magic Tree House series
- The Donna Reed Show (1959) and (1961)
- The Flintstones as Jimmy Darrock (1965)
- Shivaree (1965)
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Guest star in The Mechanical Man)
- The Time Tunnel (1966–1967)
- Police Woman (1976) Season 2 "The Task Force" (2 Part) Episodes 23 & 24 He Played: Rick Matteo
- Baa Baa Black Sheep (TV series)(1977) Season 1 Episode 12 "The war biz warrior" as Lt. Col. Rod Towers
- T. J. Hooker (1982–1985)
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1998–1999)
- Official website
- James Darren at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview with James Darren about Frank Sinatra