James Darren has enjoyed a successful, multi-faceted career, spanning five decades of motion picture, television, recording and live concert performances. With a notable career in films (“Gidget,” “The Guns of Navarone”) as well as television (“The Time Tunnel,” “T.J. Hooker,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”), Darren has re-emerged on the recording scene with his latest CD, Because of You (Concord Records), an impressive collection of standards and big band swing. The album, a follow-up to his acclaimed 1999 release, This One’s From the Heart (Concord Records), reaffirms Darren’s incomparable talents as a singer.
Born in South Philly as James Ercolani, a second-generation American of Italian descent, Darren cites his beloved grandmother as the greatest guiding light of his life and his career. By the age of 14, Darren knew he wanted a show business career, and he embarked on the road to stardom by singing in nightclubs in Philadelphia and South Jersey. By age 18, he was in New York, studying acting for several years with the legendary drama teacher Stella Adler.
It was a chance introduction to Hollywood movie producer Joyce Selznick (niece of the legendary David O. Selznick) that led to Darren’s seven-year contract with Columbia Pictures and his first big break: starring as the college student-surfer Moondoggie opposite Sandra Dee in the 1959 classic comedy hit, “Gidget.” Two sequels would follow, and Darren was soon on Hollywood’s short list of most sought-after young dramatic actors. He would make 20 films in all, including “The Guns of Navarone,” “The Lively Set,” “The Gene Krupa Story,” “The Brothers Rico,” “Gunman’s Walk,” “Let No Man Write My Epitaph,” and “Diamond Head.”
Darren’s singing career encompasses an impressive roster of musical credits including 14 albums and five Top 10 singles, including the 1961 Grammy-nominated “Goodbye Cruel World,” which held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts for six weeks. Throughout the early 60s, his recording career continued to skyrocket with subsequent Top 10 hits including “Her Royal Majesty,” “Conscience,” and “All.” In 1976, he landed still another hit with “You Take My Breath Away” from the Oscar-winning film “Rocky.”
Darren would also make his mark on the small screen, starring in several hit television series, including “The Time Tunnel,” “T.J. Hooker,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Melrose Place.” In 1987, the versatile entertainer began another phase of his career, this time as a highly in-demand director for television whose credits include several “movies of the week,” and more than 50 television shows ranging from “Melrose Place” and “Beverly Hills 90210” to “Hunter” and “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
But it is James Darren’s love of music that finds him back in the spotlight. In 1999, he returned to the recording industry in a big way, releasing This One’s From the Heart, a collection of some of the greatest classics ever penned, including “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Come Fly With Me,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” The album debuted at No.9 on the Billboard Jazz charts, and the world was re-introduced to Darren’s lush vocals.
With Because of You, Darren once again celebrates the Great American Songbook, breathing new life and new sensibilities into 14 pop and jazz standards such as “Just One of Those Things,” “Good Life,” and the unforgettable title cut. Recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles with a 45-piece orchestra, the album also boasts the talents of some of the best arrangers in the industry including Patrick Williams, Ray Ellis, Bob Krogstadt and David Campbell.
The album debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Jazz charts, and Williams, who has worked with the greatest legends in the recording business, referred to Darren as “one of a very rare breed… a true stylist, who gets inside a songs and nails it.”
In his recordings, his concert appearances in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, as well as his concerts with world-renowned symphonies across the U.S., including the San Diego Symphony, the Dallas Symphony and the Iowa Symphony, the media has also taken notice of James Darren the singer. The San Diego Union-Tribune called him a “compendium of coolness, a wizard of with-it-ness.” The Chicago Sun-Times said “Darren is as smooth as silk.”
Actor, director, recording artist – James Darren has made an indelible mark in the entertainment industry. And as the song says, the best is yet to come.