James Darren

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James Darren
James Darren 2015.jpg
Darren in 2015
Born James William Ercolani
(1936-06-08) June 8, 1936 (age 80)
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.

Career[edit]

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. Darren later described it:

I was studying acting in New York City with Stella Adler. I'd been studying with her for a couple of years. I went to see some agents in New York and they said in order to get work, you need to have photographs taken. As I was walking down Broadway after class one day, I saw this photographer's studio, Maurice Seymour. I went in and had pictures taken. I went back to look at the proofs and his secretary, a woman by the name of Yvonne Bouvier, asked me if I was interested in getting into film. I said yeah, I was. She said I know someone you should meet. She set up a meeting between me and Joyce Selznick, who worked for Screen Gems. I went down to 1650 Broadway, the Brill Building. On my way to a meeting with Joyce, we just happened to get on the elevator at the same time. She kept staring at me. I never met her. She never met me. We got off at the same floor and walked to the same office. That was our meeting. Joyce brought me over to Columbia Pictures about a week later and got me a contract there.[1]

A few weeks later Darren was cast in the lead of Rumble on the Docks (1956).[2][3] This got him a lot of fan mail and the studio cast him in The Brothers Rico and Gunman's Walk.

He notably played Moondoggie in Gidget in 1959, and recorded 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.[4] 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.[5][6]

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

The people handling my career at that point didn't really take advantage of it. I did another Gidget film which I hated (Gidget Goes to Rome) and I didn't want to do it. I thought that I'd be doing those for the rest of my life, but I also did a film called Diamond Head in-between those two films, which had some wonderful characters and a great cast. Sure, it did help. Even today, Navarone has helped. I mean, here we are today talking about Navarone. When you're in a classic film like that, it lasts forever.[7]

In 1963 he signed a seven picture deal with Universal, starting with The Lively Set.[8]

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.[9]

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).[10] 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 Jewish while Darren was Catholic. Darren and Terlitsky had a son James Jr., or 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).[11][12]

Selected discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • 1959 "Gidget" (US #41)
  • 1959 "Angel Face" (US #47)
  • 1960 "Because They're Young" (UK #29)[13]
  • 1961 "Goodbye Cruel World" (US #3, UK #28)[13]
  • 1962 "Her Royal Majesty" (US #6, UK #36)[13]
  • 1962 "Conscience" (US #11, UK #30)[13]
  • 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)

Albums[edit]

  • 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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gary James' Interview With James Darren". classicbands.com
  2. ^ FROM STREETCORNER TO STARDOM in one easy elevator ride PURCELLI, MARION. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 09 Dec 1967: e3.
  3. ^ James Darren Well on Way to Hitting Jackpot of Stardom: FAIR-HAIRED BOY Darren Getting Big Buildup Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Apr 1958: E1.
  4. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 133. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  5. ^ "The Donna Reed Show: April Fool". TV.com. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  6. ^ "The Donna Reed Show: One Starry Night". TV.com. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  7. ^ Todd Doogan interviews actor James Darren (2001).
  8. ^ Darren Signed at Universal Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] December 13, 1963: D17.
  9. ^ Alison Martino (August 10, 2015). "Time Tunneling with James Darren". Los Angeles. Retrieved April 3, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Forever Fontaine – An Interview with DS9's James Darren". StarTrek.com. July 13, 2011. 
  11. ^ Lisanti, Thomas (August 24, 2012). Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959–1969. McFarland. pp. 362–. ISBN 978-1-4766-0142-7. 
  12. ^ Adelson, Suzanne (December 5, 1983). "Goodbye Gidget, Hello Heather: James Darren Catches a New Wave of Fans on T.J. Hooker". People. 20 (23). 
  13. ^ 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]