James Darren

Actor, Singer, Director
Born Jimmy Ercolini and raised on 10th Street between Ritner and Porter in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood that produced Fabian, Bobby Rydell and Frankie Avalon, James Darren grew into a tall, dark and handsome ... Read more »
Born: 06/07/1936 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


Actor (36)

Pioneers of Television 2011 (Tv Show)


Bobby Rydell: Wild About Bobby 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)


Elvis Forever 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)


Sandra Dee 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)


Melrose Place 1986 - 1987, 1989 - 1999 (Tv Show)


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 1992 - 1999 (TV Show)


Diagnosis Murder 1997 - 1998 (Tv Show)


TV Guide Looks at Science Fiction 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)


Blood Sport 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)


T.J. Hooker 1981 - 1986 (TV Show)


Hollywood Starr 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)


Battle of the Network Stars XVI 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)


Portrait of a Legend 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)


Scruples 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)


The Boss' Son 1977 (Movie)

Buddy (Actor)

City Beneath the Sea 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)


The Time Tunnel 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)


The Lively Set 1964 (Movie)

Casey Owens (Actor)

For Those Who Think Young 1963 (Movie)

Gardner "Ding" Pruitt III (Actor)

Diamond Head 1962 (Movie)

Paul Kahana (Actor)

Gidget Goes to Rome 1962 (Movie)

Jeff (Actor)

Gidget Goes Hawaiian 1961 (Movie)

Jeff Mather (Actor)

The Guns of Navarone 1961 (Movie)

Pappadimos (Actor)

All the Young Men 1960 (Movie)

Cotton (Actor)

Because They're Young 1960 (Movie)


Let No Man Write My Epitaph 1960 (Movie)

Nick Romano (Actor)

The Gene Krupa Story 1959 (Movie)

Eddie Sirota (Actor)

Gidget 1958 (Movie)

Jeffrey "Moondoggie" Matthews (Actor)

Gunman's Walk 1957 (Movie)

Davy Hackett (Actor)

Operation Mad Ball 1957 (Movie)

Private Widowskas (Actor)

The Brothers Rico 1957 (Movie)

Johnny Rico (Actor)

The Web 1956 - 1957 (TV Show)


Baa Baa Black Sheep (TV Show)


The Lives of Jenny Dolan (TV Show)


Turnover Smith (TV Show)

Director (9)

Nowhere Man 1986 - 1987, 1989 - 1999 (Tv Show)


Silk Stalkings 1986 - 1987, 1989 - 1999 (Tv Show)


Hardball 1986 - 1987, 1989 - 1998 (Tv Show)


Raven 1991 - 1998 (Tv Show)


Savannah 1992 - 1998 (Tv Show)


Walker, Texas Ranger 1992 - 1994, 1997 - 1998 (Tv Show)


Werewolf 1986 - 1987, 1991 - 1998 (Tv Show)


Beverly Hills 90210 1996 (Tv Show)


Gladiator School 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)



Born Jimmy Ercolini and raised on 10th Street between Ritner and Porter in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood that produced Fabian, Bobby Rydell and Frankie Avalon, James Darren grew into a tall, dark and handsome Italian heartthrob who would also enjoy a run as a teenage singing sensation. While studying acting with Stella Adler in NYC, a chance meeting with Columbia Pictures eastern talent scout Joyce Selznick opened the door to a screen career, and he joined the studio's stable of fine young actors, delivering a standout performance in his feature debut as the juvenile gang leader and star of "Rumble on the Docks" (1956). Darren continued to impress in subsequent outings but really came into his own as Jeff 'Moondoggie' Matthews opposite Sandra Dee's "Gidget" (1959). Especially effective as the young man torn between the carefree surfing life and the responsibilities of growing up, he also displayed a pleasant singing voice on the film's title song and the even better "The Next Best Thing to Love", launching a recording career that boasted five Top 10 singles during the early 60s, including the Grammy-nominated "Goodbye Cruel World" (1961), which peaked at Number Three.

Darren reprised his "Gidget" persona twice, contributing his ingratiating talent to "Gidget Goes Hawaiian" (1961) and "Gidget Goes to Rome" (1963), both a little lackluster compared to the original. Still, in some filmgoers' minds, he was forever established as Moondoggie, despite his acclaimed work as best friend Eddie Sirota in "The Gene Krupa Story" (1959), as the slum kid who perseveres to become a concert pianist in "Let No Man Write My Epitaph" (1960), and as an underutilized member of the all-star gang of saboteurs in J Lee Thompson's "The Guns of Navarone" (1961). Still, compared with his Philadelphian brethren Fabian, Rydell and Avalon, who all took their cracks in teen movies, Darren exhibited more staying power, segueing to a successful career as a TV actor after his pop-star status waned. His first role as a series regular came as time-traveling scientist Tony Newman in the ABC series "Time Tunnel" (1966-67), and he later spent three seasons as veteran patrolman Jim Corrigan, partnered with Heather Locklear's Stacy Sheridan, on "T.J. Hooker" (ABC, 1983-85; CBS, 1985-86). When Darren made his directing debut with an episode near the end of that show's final season, people liked what they saw, and he started to receive offers to direct for other series.

Darren began working exclusively behind the scenes, helming episodes of "Hunter" and "Stingray" (both NBC) and "Werewolf" (Fox), among others. "I figured this [directing] was a good way to stay in the business, and I didn't have to worry about how I looked. I didn't have to shave every morning. I would get up, shower, comb my hair back, put on a baseball cap and go to work." (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, September 27, 1999) He reteamed with Locklear, directing episodes of Fox's "Melrose Place" from 1995-97, and eventually acted opposite her as the sleazy Tony Marlin during that show's final season (1998-99), but only after creating the part of Vic Fontaine in the syndicated "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". Calling his holographic Las Vegas lounge singer a "combination of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and myself," Darren appeared in ten episodes (including the series finale) and revitalized his singing career. Never considered much of a pop-rock vocalist in his heyday, he released his 13th album, "This One's From the Heart" (1999), which featured songs he had performed on the series, and garnered his first real critical acclaim as a crooner, having finally found himself in the idiom of Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Sammy Cahn and the like.


Evy Darren

married on February 6, 1960 former Miss Denmark of 1958 appeared in "The Flying Fontaines" (1959) mother of Darren's two younger children

Anthony Darren

mother, Evy Norlund

Gloria Darren

married in 1955 divorced in 1959 remarried husband adopted son James

Christian Darren

mother, Evy Norlund

Jim Moret

adopted stepfather's name former entertainmnet lawyer joined CNN in 1992 as correspondent on "Showbiz Today" (later co-hosted) mother, Gloria Darren


studied acting with Stella Adler in NYC for only a few weeks

Southern High School

Philadelphia , Pennsylvania



Released 13th album, "This One's From the Heart"


Received star on the Philadelphia Walk of Fame (September 25)


Helmed "Gladiator School" (ABC), a "Police Story" TV-movie


Made directorial debut with an episode of "T.J. Hooker" (CBS) near the end of its final season


Last feature to date, Bobby Roth's engaging independent "The Boss' Son"


Made the charts again with "You Take My Heart Away"


Reached the Top 40 with "All"


Starred with Robert Colbert as time-travelling scientists in the ABC series "The Time Tunnel"


Final turn as 'Moondoggie' (opposite Cindy Carol) in Wendkos' "Gidget Goes to Rome"


Played native Hawaiian in love with Yvette Mimieux in "Diamond Head"; when her irate father, bigoted pineapple baron Charles Heston, "accidentally" kills Darren, she then takes up with his brother (George Chakiris)


Acted in Wendkos' "Gidget Goes Hawaiian", this time opposite Deborah Walley


Joined all-star saboteur gang of Gregory Peck, Anthony Quayle, David Niven, Anthony Quinn and Stanley Baker in J Lee Thompson's "The Guns of Navarone"


Received Grammy Award nomination (Best Rock and Roll Recording) for "Goodbye Cruel World"


Registered impressively as slum kid who keeps his head high and becomes a concert pianist in "Let No Man Write My Epitaph"


Reteamed with Wendkos for "Because They're Young", starring Dick Clark as an understanding, do-good teacher


Portrayed Eddie Sirota in "The Gene Krupa Story"; sang "Let There Be Love" in film


Played Jeff 'Moondoggie' Matthews opposite Sandra Dee's "Gidget"; first of four films with director Paul Wendkos (a fellow Philadelphian); sang the songs "Gidget" and "The Next Best Thing To Love"


Feature acting debut, "Rumble on the Docks"

Returned to "Melrose Place", this time acting the role of villain Tony Marlin

Directed episodes of Fox's "Beverly Hills, 90210"

On way to appointment with Columbia Pictures eastern talent scout Joyce Selznick in NYC's Brill Building met Selznick in elevator; not knowing who he was, she was impressed with his look and presence and suggested he meet with her; signed to contract with

Recurring role as hologramic Vegas lounge singer Vic Fontaine in ten episodes of the syndicated "Ster Trek: Deep Space Nine" revived singing carreer

Commuted to NYC from Philadelphia to study acting with Stella Adler

Portrayed veteran patrolman Jim Corrigan, Heather Locklear's partner, on "T.J. Hooker"; when ABC cancelled series in the spring of 1985, CBS picked it up for its final season

Born and raised in South Philadelphia

Reteamed with Locklear, directing her in episodes of Fox's "Melrose Place"

Began working exclusively as a director, helming episodes of series like "Hunter", "The A-Team", "Stingray", "Hard Ball" (all NBC), "Werewolf" (Fox), "Raven" and "Walker: Texas Ranger" (both CBS)

Bonus Trivia


Took his name from the popular Kaiser Darrin sports car of the 1950s.


Darren and his wife are godparents to Frank Sinatra's first grandchild, Angela Jennifer Lambert (Nancy's daughter).


On how he ended up acting on "Melrose Place": "Actually, I was called one evening by Anson Willimas who had directed me in an episode of 'Deep Space Nine'. He was then doing, or preparing to do, 'Melrose Place' and said there was a part that was perfect for me. However, after reading it, I didn't agree with him. But the producers were quite convincing and asked if I would play the character of Tony Marlin, who I thought was a total jerk ... But you know, a job is a job. And I must say that I loved working with the cast. I had directed them many times before, so it was nice seeing them again." --James Darren quoted at www.startrek.com (September 1999).


"I started singing long before I became an actor. My father would take me to dives and strip joints in South Philly--anywhere that would allow a 14-year-old kid to sing in those days. And I truly loved it. I mean, I'd be singing and they'd be sitting out there in the dark, talking, smoking and drinking, and not hearing a word I was singing. And that was OK, because I learned to just sing for myself. Sometimes I was lucky to have a trio of musicians behind me, sometimes just a sax player. It was great.


"I was in Atlantic city in April with an 18-piece orchestra and it was incredible. Both the return to acting and singing were like a dream to me. I never imagined I'd get in front of a camera again . . . And I never dreamed I'd sing publicly again. I'm also doing these big symphony dates. I performed with the symphony in San Francisco. When you're standing in front of 60 to 70 world-class musicians, it's the greatest feeling for a singer." --Darren quoted in Chicago Sun-Times, September 27, 1999.