James Darren

James Darren

Birth name: James William Ercolani
Born: June 8, 1936
Age: 81
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
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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. 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.

A few weeks later Darren was cast in the lead of Rumble on the Docks (1956). 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. 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.

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.

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

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

In 1955 Darren married Gloria Terlitsky, his sweetheart since 1953. 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. James Jr. was adopted by Gloria's third husband, and is now known as journalist and TV commentator Jim Moret. Two years after the divorce, Darren married Evy Norlund, Miss Denmark 1958. They had two sons, Christian (born c. 1960) and Anthony (born c. 1964).

Selected discography


Year Titles (A-side, B-side)
Peak chart positions Album
US Billboard US AC UK
1958 "Mighty Pretty Territory"
- - - Album No. 1
1959 "Gidget"
41 - -
"Angel Face"
47 - - James Darren Sings For All Sizes
"I Ain't Sharin Sharon"
- - - Non-album track
"Teenage Tears"
- - - James Darren Sings For All Sizes
1960 "You Are My Dream"
- - - Gidget Goes Hawaiian - James Darren Sings The Movies
"Because They're Young"
- - 29
"Traveling Down A Lonely Road"
- - -
"All The Young Men"
- - - Non-album track
"Come On My Love"
- - - Gidget Goes Hawaiian - James Darren Sings The Movies
1961 "Goodbye My Lady Love"
- - -
"Gotta Have Love"
- - - James Darren Sings For All Sizes
"Gidget Goes Hawaiian"
- - - Gidget Goes Hawaiian - James Darren Sings The Movies
"You Are My Dream"
- - -
"Goodbye Cruel World"
3 - 28 James Darren Sings For All Sizes
1962 "Her Royal Majesty"
6 - 36 Teenage Triangle
11 - 30
"Mary's Little Lamb"
39 - - Non-album tracks
"Hail To The Conquering Hero"
97 - -
"Hear What I Wanna Hear"
- - -
1963 "Pin A Medal On Joey"
54 - -
"They Should Have Given You The Oscar"
- - -
- - - More Teenage Triangle
"Back Stage"
- - - Non-album tracks
1964 "Punch and Judy"
- - -
1965 "Baby, Talk To Me"
- - - More Teenage Triangle
"Because You're Mine"
- 30 - Non-album tracks
1966 "Tom Hawk"
- - -
"Where Did We Go Wrong"
- - -
"Crazy Me"
- - -
"Tomorrow Tomorrow"
- - -
1967 "All"
35 5 - All
"Since I Don't Have You"
123 - -
"Didn't We"
- 36 - Non-album tracks
"They Don't Know"
- - -
1968 "Cherie"
- - -
"Each and Every Part Of Me"
- - -
1970 "Wheeling, West Virginia"
- - -
1971 "Bring Me Down Slow"
- - - Mammy Blue
"Mammy Blue"
107 - -
1972 "Ain't Been Home In A Long Time"
- - -
"Brian's Song"
- - - Love Songs From The Movies
1973 "Let The Heartaches Begin"
- - - Non-album tracks
- - -
1975 "Love On The Screen"
- - -
1976 "Sleepin' In A Bed Of Lies"
- - -
1977 "You Take My Heart Away"
52 - -
1978 "Only A Dream Away"
- - -
"Let Me Take You In My Arms Again"
- - -
"The Next Time"
- - -


  • 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

  • Rumble on the Docks (1956) as Jimmy Smigelski
  • Operation Mad Ball (1957) as Pvt. Widowskas
  • The Brothers Rico (1957) as Johnny Rico
  • Gunman's Walk (1958) as Mitch
  • Gidget (1959) as Jeffrey Matthews aka Moondoggie
  • The Gene Krupa Story (1959) as Eddie Sirota
  • All the Young Men (1960) as Pvt. Cotton
  • Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960) as Nick Romano
  • Because They're Young (1960) as Himself - Singer
  • The Guns of Navarone (1961) as Pvt. Spyro Pappadimos
  • Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) as Moondoggie (Jeffrey Matthews)
  • Diamond Head (1962) as Paul Kahana
  • Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) as Moondoggie (Jeff Matthews)
  • Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963) as Himself - Singer Behind Title Credits
  • For Those Who Think Young (1964) as Gardner 'Ding' Pruitt III
  • Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! (1964) as Yogi Bear ('Ven-e, Ven-o, Ven-a') (singing voice)
  • The Lively Set (1964) as Casey Owens
  • Venus in Furs (1969) as Jimmy Logan
  • City Beneath the Sea (1971) as Dr. Talty
  • The Lives of Jenny Dolan (1975) as Orlando
  • The Boss' Son (1978) as Buddy Weistein
  • That's Life (1979)
  • Random Acts (2001) as Allen
  • Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story (2010) as Himself

TV appearances

  • The Donna Reed Show (1959) and (1961) as Kip Dennis / Jim Bryce / Buzz Berry
  • The Flintstones as Jimmy Darrock (1965) as Jimmy Darrock (voice)
  • Shivaree (1965)
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Guest star in The Mechanical Man) as Omir
  • The Time Tunnel (1966-1967) as Dr. Tony Newman
  • Police Woman (1976, Season 2 "The Task Force" (2 Part) Episodes 23 & 24) as Rick Matteo
  • Baa Baa Black Sheep (TV series) (1977) Season 1 Episode 12 "The War Biz Warrior" as Lieutenant Colonel Rod Towers
  • The Feather and Father Gang (1977, Season 1 Episode 8 "For the Love of Sheila") as Praeger
  • Fantasy Island (1979) as Michael Duvall
  • T. J. Hooker (1982-1985) as Officer Jim Corrigan / Dan Danko
  • The Love Boat (1981) as Tony Steeter
  • One Day At A Time (1983, The Cruise Season 8 Episode 14) as Roger Alexander
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1998-1999, Seasons 6 & 7) as Vic Fontaine

[ Source: Wikipedia ]