JAMES DARREN – ACTOR, DIRECTOR & 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 Heart 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” which re-introduced the world to Darren’s lush vocals.
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.
June 11-13, 2015
A Gathering of Guns at the Memphis Film Festival
Then...It's a Magnum P.I. Reunion! Tom Selleck Joins the Show!
Selleck has appeared in more than fifty film and television roles since his initial success with Magnum, P.I., including a co-starring role in the highest-grossing movie of 1987, Three Men and a Baby; Quigley Down Under; Mr. Baseball; and Lassiter, to name a few. Selleck has also appeared as Dr. Richard Burke on Friends, where he played the on-again, off-again love-interest of Monica Geller (Courteney Cox), and A.J. Cooper on Las Vegas.
Early work and Magnum P.I.
Selleck's first TV appearance was as a college senior on The Dating Game in 1965, and again in 1967. Soon after, he appeared in commercials for products such as Pepsi-Cola.
He began his career with bit parts in smaller movies, including Myra Breckinridge and The Seven Minutes. He also appeared in number of TV series, mini-series and TV movies. Selleck also had a recurring role in the 1970s as "too good to be true" private investigator Lance White in The Rockford Files. Lance was very trusting and always lucky, much to the annoyance of Jim Rockford, the show's star private eye played by James Garner. White would frequently say to Rockford, "Don't worry Jim, clues will turn up" and then a clue would just turn up, much to Rockford's consternation, for whom obtaining clues required hard work and hard knocks. Selleck's character was based on one played in Garner's earlier TV series Maverick (1957) by Wayde Preston in the episode "The Saga of Waco Williams".
Selleck, an accessible but relatively untested actor, spent years receiving little interest from the entertainment industry. His big break came when he was cast in the lead role as Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P.I.. The producers would not release the actor for other projects, so Selleck had to pass on the equally enticing film project for the role of Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", which then went to rising star Harrison Ford. The choice between the roles of Indiana Jones and Magnum actually haunted Selleck so much that before making the decision, he consulted his best friend on what to do. Together they came to the conclusion taking the high road and honoring the first contract with Universal Studios was the career-savvy direction. It turned out shooting of the pilot for Magnum was delayed for over six months by a writers' strike, which would have enabled him to complete "Raiders".
Selleck starred in the 1979 TV movie Concrete Cowboys with Jerry Reed. He starred in a number of film roles during and after Magnum; among the most notable were as an acrophobic police detective in Runaway; as a stand-in father in Three Men and a Baby; and as an American 19th century sharpshooter in the Australian western Quigley Down Under – a role and film that he considers one of his best. His other films include Three Men and a Little Lady; High Road to China; Lassiter; Coma; Her Alibi; An Innocent Man; Folks!; Christopher Columbus: The Discovery; Mr. Baseball; In & Out and The Love Letter.
Selleck is an avid outdoorsman, and a marksman and knowledgeable firearms collector. These interests led him to leading-man cowboy roles in Western films, starting with his role as cowboy and frontier marshal Orrin Sackett in the 1979 film The Sacketts, opposite Sam Elliott, Jeff Osterhage, and Western legendsGlenn Ford and Ben Johnson. He followed The Sacketts with The Shadow Riders in 1982, then portraying a cat burglar in 1930s London in Lassiter in 1984.Quigley Down Under is probably one of his best known Western films, however he also won a "Western Heritage Award" for his 1997 role in Last Stand at Sabre River. His last two cowboy roles to date were in the 2001 TNT movie Crossfire Trail (based on a Louis L'Amour novel of the same name), and the 2003 motion picture Monte Walsh.
He most recently appeared in the film Killers, along with Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher.
Selleck played the role of Thomas Magnum in 1980 after six failed TV pilots. Magnum was a former U.S. Navy Officer, a veteran of a special operations unit in the Vietnam War, who had resigned his commission with the Office of Naval Intelligence and become a private investigator living in Hawaii. The show would go on for eight seasons and 162 episodes until 1988, winning him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1984. Selleck was famous for his mustache, a Hawaiian-style aloha shirt, a Detroit Tigers baseball cap, and the Colt Model 1911A1 .45 ACP Caliber pistol his character carried. Magnum drove a Ferrari 308GTSi in the series. The model became so identified with the role that Ferrari fans now refer to the red-painted model as a "Magnum" Ferrari.
Selleck has confirmed that he is the most popular choice by fans to play the role of Magnum in the rumoured upcoming Magnum P.I. movie.
In the late nineties, Selleck played the role of Richard Burke, Monica's boyfriend, at the end of the second season of the hugely successful TV series Friends. Richard was a divorced ophthalmologist who was a friend of Monica's parents, and at first the relationship was hidden from her parents. The relationship eventually ended over Richard's reluctance to commit to raising a family, though Selleck did make a few extra appearances in later shows.
In February 1998, Selleck accepted the lead role in a sitcom for CBS called The Closer. In it he played Jack McLaren, a legendary publicist heading up a brand new marketing firm. His costars included Ed Asner, David Krumholtz, and Penelope Ann Miller. Despite the high pedigree, and the expectations for his first series since Magnum, P. I., low ratings caused the show to be canceled after ten episodes.
Jesse Stone series
Since 2005, Selleck has starred in the role of transplanted lawman Jesse Stone in a series of made-for-TV movies based on Robert B. Parker's novels. To date, the series comprises eight films, with the most recent released on May 20, 2012. In addition to his portrayal of the films' protagonist, Selleck now also acts as producer for the series. The fifth film, Jesse Stone: Thin Ice, was not adapted from Parker's novels, but rather an original story by Selleck.
He joined the cast of the NBC drama Las Vegas in the season-five premiere on September 28, 2007. He played A.J. Cooper, the new owner of the Montecito Casino. He replaced James Caanwho left the cast in the same episode. This was Selleck's first regular role on a drama show since he played Thomas Magnum on Magnum, P.I..
Blue Bloods is an American police procedural/drama series on CBS, filmed on location in New York City. Frank Reagan (Selleck) is the Police Commissioner; the series follows the Reagan family of police officers with the New York City Police Department. The show premiered on September 24, 2010.
Selleck has also appeared in a number of made-for-TV movies in recent years. In particular, he has sought to help bring back to popularity the western, often playing one of that genre's typical characters but thrust into a modern context.
Selleck was offered the lead role of Mitch Buchannon in Baywatch, but turned down the role because he did not want to be seen as a sex symbol. The role eventually went to David Hasselhoff.
Surprising many of his fans, Selleck unexpectedly played the role of General Dwight D. Eisenhower in A&E's 2004 made-for-TV movie Ike: Countdown to D-Day. The movie showed the planning, politics, and preparation for the 1944 Invasion of Normandy, and Selleck was critically lauded for playing a cool, calm Eisenhower.
Selleck appeared in a recurring role on the acclaimed ABC drama Boston Legal as Ivan Tiggs—the troubled ex-husband of Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen)—and as novelist Robert B. Parker's character Jesse Stone in several CBS made-for-TV movies, earning a 2007 Emmy nomination for Jesse Stone: Sea Change.
In 2001, Selleck played the lead role of Murray in a Broadway revival of Herb Gardner's comedic play A Thousand Clowns. It ran for only two months. Critics, though far from uniformly negative about Selleck's performance, generally compared it unfavorably to that of Jason Robards, Jr., who won awards in the 1960s for playing the character on the stage and in a movie version. (It remains the role with which Robards is most identified.) Playwright Gardner, however, actually preferred Selleck to Robards in the part, and even said that Selleck was the way he had always envisioned Murray.