James Darren

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James Darren
James Darren Lee Meriwether Robert Colbert Time Tunnel 1966.JPG
Darren, at left, with Lee Meriwether and Robert Colbert in The Time Tunnel, 1966.
Born James William Ercolani
(1936-06-08) June 8, 1936 (age 79)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Years active 1956–2001
Spouse(s) Evy Norlund (1960–present) (2 children)
Gloria Terlitsky (1955–1958) (divorced) (1 son)
Children Jim Moret
Christian Darren
Anthony Darren (b. 1963)

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, 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 where he had a contract with Columbia Pictures, 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.[1] 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").

Twice, in 1959 and 1961, Darren played teen idols on episodes of The Donna Reed Show.[2][3]

Darren's role in the 1961 World War II film The Guns of Navarone was an attempt to break out of his teen image.

In 1963 he signed a seven picture deal with Universal, starting with The Lively Set.[4]

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.

Personal life[edit]

James Darren with Gloria Terlitsky and son
Evy Norlund and James Darren on their honeymoon in Rome in 1960

In 1955 Darren married Gloria Terlitsky, his sweetheart since 1940s. Her father opposed their marriage because Terlitsky was a Jew while Darren was a Catholic. Darren and Terlitsky had a son Jimmy, and divorced in 1958. Two years later Darren married Evy Norlund, Miss Denmark 1958. They had two sons, Christian (born c. 1960) and Anthony (born c. 1964).[5][6]

Selected discography[edit]


  • 1959 "Gidget" (US #41)
  • 1959 "Angel Face" (US #47)
  • 1960 "Because They're Young" (UK #29)[7]
  • 1961 "Goodbye Cruel World" (US #3, UK #28)[7]
  • 1962 "Her Royal Majesty" (US #6, UK #36)[7]
  • 1962 "Conscience" (US #11, UK #30)[7]
  • 1962 "Mary's Little Lamb" (US #39)
  • 1962 "Hail to the Conquering Hero" (US #97)
  • 1963 "Pin a Medal on Joey" (US #54)
  • 1965 "Because You're Mine" (US AC #30)
  • 1967 "All" (US #35/US AC #5)
  • 1967 "Didn't We" (US AC #36)
  • 1967 "Since I Don't Have You" (US #123)
  • 1971 "Mammy Blue" (US #107)
  • 1977 "You Take My Heart Away" (US #52)


  • 1960 James Darren No. 1 (reissued 2004)
  • 1961 Sings the Movies (Gidget Goes Hawaiian)
  • 1962 Love Among the Young (reissued 2004)
  • 1962 Sings for All Sizes
  • 1963 Bye Bye Birdie (with The Marcels, Paul Petersen, & Shelley Fabares)
  • 1963 Teenage Triangle (with Shelley Fabares & Paul Petersen)
  • 1964 More Teenage Triangle (with Paul Petersen & Shelley Fabares)
  • 1967 All (reissued 2005)
  • 1971 Mammy Blue
  • 1972 Love Songs from the Movies
  • 1994 The Best of James Darren
  • 1999 This One's from the Heart
  • 2001 Because of You

Many compilation albums also exist.

Selected filmography[edit]

TV appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 133. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  2. ^ "The Donna Reed Show: April Fool". TV.com. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Donna Reed Show: One Starry Night". TV.com. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ Darren Signed at Universal Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] December 13, 1963: D17.
  5. ^ Lisanti, Thomas (August 24, 2012). Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959–1969. McFarland. pp. 362–. ISBN 978-1-4766-0142-7. 
  6. ^ Adelson, Suzanne (December 5, 1983). "Goodbye Gidget, Hello Heather: James Darren Catches a New Wave of Fans on T.J. Hooker". People 20 (23). 
  7. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 141. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]