(written from a Production point of view)
James Darren (born 8 June 1936; age 79) is an actor, director, and singer known for his role as the holographic lounge singer Vic Fontaine on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He also played the mirror version of Vic in the episode "The Emperor's New Cloak" and is best known for his regular roles in the television series The Time Tunnel and T.J. Hooker with William Shatner.
Darren, born James William Ercolani, is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and moved to New York City to fulfill his dream to become a singer and actor. After a short time taking acting lessons he met Columbia Pictures talent agent Joyce Selznick who gave him a seven year contract with Columbia. In 1955 he moved to Hollywood, California and stood in front of the camera for nineteen Columbia films. The following year he took his stage name James Darren, named after the Kaiser-Darrin sports car.
In 1955 Darren and his first wife Gloria Terlitsky married. They later divorced in 1959. Terlitsky is also the mother of Darren's first son, James "Jim" Jr. During his early years he was friends with the famous Rat Pack, which included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Peter Lawford. He was also chosen to be the godfather of Angela Jennifer Lambert, daughter of Frank Sinatra's daughter Nancy.
Since 1960 Darren is married to Evy Norlund, Miss Denmark 1958, the actress who played Suzanne Fontaine in the 1959 movie The Flying Fontaines. The couple has two sons.
After Darren received his seven year contract with Columbia he starred and co-starred in films such as the drama Rumble on the Docks (1956, with Celia Lovsky), the war comedy Operation Mad Ball (1957, with Dick Crockett and Roy Jenson), the drama The Brothers Rico (1957), the crime drama The Tijuana Story (1957), the western Gunman's Walk (1958), and the biopic The Gene Krupa Story (1959, with Susan Oliver, Yvonne Craig, Lawrence Dobkin, and Celia Lovsky). Other appearances include the television series The Web (1957, with DeForest Kelley), The Donna Reed Show (1959, with Ted Knight), and The Lineup (1959).
In 1959 Darren earned the audiences attraction for playing Jeffrey "Moondoggie" Matthews in the comedy Gidget, which also featured Yvonne Craig. Darren would reprise his role for the two following Gidget films Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961, with music by George Duning) and Gidget Goes to Rome (1963).
Other acting credits in the '60s include the drama Because They're Young (1960), the war drama All the Young Men (1960, with Paul Baxley), the drama Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960, with Ricardo Montalban), the war drama The Guns of Navarone (1961) (with Walter Gotell), the romance Diamond Head (1963, with France Nuyen), the comedy For Those Who Think Young (1964), the action film The Lively Set (1964, with Charles Drake), the horror film Paroxismus (1969), and an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1966, with Seymour Cassel).
Parallel to Star Trek: The Original Series, Darren portrayed the leading role of Dr. Anthony Newman in the science fiction series The Time Tunnel (1966-1967). Fellow Trek actors Whit Bissell and Lee Meriwether were part of the main cast while Trek stunt performers Charlie Picerni and David Sharpe served as stunt doubles for Darren. The series featured fellow Trek alumni John Winston, Bart La Rue, Warren Stevens, Paul Fix, Paul Carr, Torin Thatcher, Victor Lundin, Joseph Ruskin, Abraham Sofaer, Paul Comi, Lawrence Montaigne, Bruce Mars, Perry Lopez, Theo Marcuse, David Opatoshu, Nehemiah Persoff, Michael Ansara, Dick Geary, Elizabeth Rogers, Malachi Throne, Peter Brocco, Dick Dial, John Crawford, Vince Howard, John Hoyt, Arnold Moss, Rhodes Reason, Anthony Caruso, Robert Walker, Arthur Batanides, Chuck Hicks and Gil Perkins in guest roles. Writers included Carey Wilber and Robert Hamner, and the show also featured music by George Duning.
While touring through the United States, Darren participated in a few film projects such as the science fiction television movie City Beneath the Sea (1971, with Whit Bissell), the drama The Lives of Jenny Dolan (1975, with Percy Rodriguez, Paul Carr, Rod Arrants, and Alan Oppenheimer), and the drama The Boss' Son (1978). He was also more prominently seen as guest actor in a few television series including S.W.A.T. (1976, with David Opatoshu and Paul Sorensen), Police Woman (1976, with Charles Dierkop), Baa Baa Black Sheep (1977, with Joey Aresco and John Larroquette), Charlie's Angels (1977, with Patty Maloney), Hawaii Five-O (1978-1979, with Nehemiah Persoff and Brian Tochi), Vega$ (1980, with William Lucking), The Love Boat (1981, with Gina Hecht), and Fantasy Island (1979-1982, starring Ricardo Montalban, and with Wendy Schaal).
Between 1982 and 1986 he returned to a regular role and starred as Officer Jim Corrigan in the police drama series T.J. Hooker along with William Shatner as the title character and Richard Herd as police chief. Beside Shatner himself, Winrich Kolbe, Cliff Bole, Charlie Picerni, and Richard Compton directed him in several episodes.
After the end of T.J. Hooker, Darren made only a few guest performances in the television series Raven (1992, with Paul Collins), Renegade (1992, with Branscombe Richmond and Tracy Scoggins), Silk Stalkings (1994, with Charlie Brill, Gary Frank, and Jon Rashad Kamal), and Diagnosis Murder (1997, with Darwyn Carson). He also portrayed the cruel Tony Marlin in five episodes of the drama series Melrose Place in 1999, along with Trek performers Mark L. Taylor, Dey Young, Kathleen Garrett, Susan Savage, and David Doty.
Darren's only known acting part after Deep Space Nine is the role of Allen in the drama Random Acts in 2001.
For Gidget he performed the title song "Gidget" and the song "The Next Best Thing to Love", the previous one became a successful release the same year.
In 1961 his song "Goodbye Cruel World" stepped on position three of the US music charts and one year later his song "Her Royal Majesty" was voted into the top ten and he also lent his voice and likeness to an episode of The Flintstones (1965). He also performed two times at the Academy Awards; 1959 the song "Almost in Your Arms" and 1964 the song "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World".
After his television experience with The Time Tunnel, which was cancelled after one season, Darren formed a duo with comedian Buddy Hackett and the two toured about ten years through the country. During this time he only stopped the tour for a few film breaks.
In 1999 Darren released the album "This One's From The Heart" with songs he performed as Vic Fontaine on Deep Space Nine, his first album after twenty years. The album included the following seventeen songs:
- "This One's From The Heart"
- "The Best Is Yet to Come"
- "Come Fly with Me"
- "That Old Black Magic"
- "All the Way"
- "It's Only a Paper Moon"
- "I've Got the World on a String"
- "You'd Better Love Me"
- "Sophisticated Lady"
- "Just in Time"
- "I've Got You Under My Skin"
- "The Way You Look Tonight"
- "Here's to the Losers"
- "You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You"
- "Dancing in the Dark"
- "Night and Day"
- "I'll Be Seeing You"
- "Satin Doll"
Also in 1999 he performed on stage in Atlantic City after a fourteen year break. After this album, Darren released another studio album, "Because of You", in 2001. Other songs of his can be heard in the movies Down to You (2000), Hearts in Atlantis (2001), and Chooch (2003).
Darren made his directing debut during his performance in T.J. Hooker and directed the fifth season episode Into the Night in 1986. Star Trek performers in this episode include Shatner, Marc Alaimo, Rhonda Aldrich, and Philip Weyland.
Darren's directorial experience was built up with directing jobs in the following years, including episodes of The A-Team (1986, starring Dwight Schultz), Stingray (1987), Werewolf (1987-1988, starring Lance LeGault and with Brian Thompson, Ethan Phillips, and Todd Bryant), Tequila and Bonetti (1992, with Charles Rocket and Erick Avari), Walker, Texas Ranger (1993, starring Noble Willingham), Renegade (1994), Nowhere Man (1995, starring Bruce Greenwood and with DS9 co-star Mike Starr), Silk Stalkings (1994-1995, with Charlie Brill, Gina Ravera, and Nicolas Surovy), and Savannah (1996, starring Ray Wise and Beth Toussaint).