James Darren - Because You're Mine

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James William Ercolani (born June 8, 1936), known by his stage name James Darren, is an American television and film actor, television director, and singer.

Darren was born in Philadelphia, on June 8, 1936, of Italian descent.

He wanted to be an actor and studied in New York City with Stella Adler for a number of years. He would also occasionally sing although he later said "I wasn't really a singer. I was a kid in Philly whose dad would take him to bars and nightclubs and I would get up and sing two songs."

Darren was discovered by talent agent and casting director Joyce Selznick after he got some photographs taken by Maurice Seymour to show potential agents:

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.

Columbia signed Darren to a long term contract in July 1956. A few weeks later he was filming his first film, Rumble on the Docks (1956), a low budget "B" movie produced by Sam Katzman, where Darren played the lead. Darren's appearance was well received and he got a lot of fan mail - second at the studio only to Kim Novak.

Darren guest starred on an episode of TV's The Web ("Kill and Run") then Columbia gave him a support role in an "A" picture, the comedy Operation Mad Ball (1957), starring Jack Lemmon.

He had support roles in two films directed by Phil Karlson: The Brothers Rico (1957), a film noir, playing the brother of Richard Conte; and Gunman's Walk (1958), a Western with Van Heflin and Tab Hunter. In between he was second billed in another movie for Katzman, The Tijuana Story (1957), although his role was relatively small.

Darren was third billed in the surf film, Gidget (1959), starring Sandra Dee and Cliff Robertson, playing Moondoggie. He also sang the title track. "They were thinking about having someone do the vocal and I would lip sync," he recalled. "I told them I could do it. So we went into one of the sound stages and I sang 'Gidget'. They said, 'He sings fine,' then I did all the other songs."

The film was a hit with teen audiences and so was the song. Darren wound up recording 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. He did an episode of The Lineup (1959).

Darren was third billed in a series of films for Columbia: The Gene Krupa Story (1959), a biopic with Sal Mineo; All the Young Men (1960), a Korean War movie with Alan Ladd and Sidney Poitier; and Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960) with Burl Ives and Shelley Winters, which was a sequel to Knock On Any Door (1949). He had a cameo as himself in a teen film, Because They're Young (1960), singing the title track.

Darren had a supporting role in the World War II film The Guns of Navarone (1961), a huge hit at the box office. However, Darren later said "The people handling my career at that point didn't really take advantage of it." Also popular was Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) where Darren reprised his role as Moondoggie; he had a new Gidget (Deborah Walley) and was given top billing.

Darren had a good support role in a melodrama, Diamond Head (1962) with Charlton Heston. He played Moondoggie a third time in Gidget Goes to Rome (1962) which he later said he " I didn't want to do it. I thought that I'd be doing those for the rest of my life."He sang the title track for Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963).

In 1963 Darren signed a seven picture deal with Universal, starting with The Lively Set (1963). That teamed him with Pamela Tiffin, who was also in For Those Who Think Young (1964), a teen film Darren made for United Artists.

He was the singing voice of Yogi Bear in the animated film, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! (1964), on the song "Ven-e, Ven-o, Ven-a". Prior to that, he was the singing voice of his own character "Jimmy Darrock" on an episode of The Flintstones. However, the character's dialogue was provided by voice actor Lennie Weinrib.
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