DEAR JERRY: Among the records I bought and still have from the early '60s are several by James Darren, including Goodbye Cruel World, Conscience and Her Royal Majesty. I remember Darren turned up years later as a cop on the Hooker TV show. I thought he would have a second career as an actor. However, I haven't seen him on anything in many years.
So what happened to James Darren?
Catherine Campanella, Lancaster, Pa.
DEAR CATHERINE: For the record, and so that no one gets the wrong idea, the mid-'80s TV series in which James Darren played Officer James Corrigan was titled T.J. Hooker, not just Hooker. William Shatner played T.J. Hooker with lovely Heather Locklear cast as Officer Stacy Sheridan.
After T.J. Hooker ended, Darren thought he had retired from acting and singing, that is until he got the chance to portray a crooner on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. "I told my agent I wasn't looking for acting or singing work," says Darren, who later directed TV shows such as Melrose Place, Hunter and Walker, Texas Ranger. "My agent told me to at least look at the script. Well, I took one look at this role and said, I gotta do this, the script is great. It was like the part was written for me. On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Darren plays Vic Fontaine, a Sinatra-style, '60s era lounge singer.
Many James Darren fans who first heard of him through the hit records, which began with Gidget in 1959, are surprised to learn of his many film credits that preceded his singing career. Among them: The Gene Krupa Story, (1959), Gunman's Walk (1958), Operation Mad Ball (1957), The Brothers Rico, (1957), The Tijuana Story (1957) and Rumble on the Docks (1956) .
DEAR JERRY: Like a lot of people for 1999, we're planning the most outrageous New Years Eve party conceivable. It'll be a day-long affair, so I thought it'd be a nice touch to have the biggest hits for every year of the last century playing in the background. I figure it'll be easy to find the biggest hits of the recorded music era, but I have no idea where to look for the number one hits before that, back in the sheet music era. Can you provide me any guidance? We'll dedicate the first 25 years of the century to you!
Chuck Mathias (email@example.com)
DEAR CHUCK: Finding a list of the No. 1 songs 1900 through 1954 will be far easier than finding the recordings themselves, all of which you will need in order to play them at your party.
With just one research book, Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories: The History of American Popular Music, 1890-1954 you can get a complete listing of the pre-rock-era hits. (Record Research Publications, PO Box 200, Menomonee Falls WI 53051.
FYI: Recordings and phonograph records have been with us the entire century, as has sheet music.
Having a quarter-century dedicated to me is quite an honor; however, I suspect that portion of your program will be brief. Very few of those recordings are now available in any format. Let me be the first to wish you Happy New Year for 2000!
IZ ZAT SO? For the period referenced above, 1900 - 1954, here are the 10 most recorded songs and their writers, according to Pop Memories:
1. Silent Night (Joseph Muhr & Franz Gruber). 2. St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy). 3. Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael & Mitchell Parish). 4. Body and Soul (Johnny Green, Ed Heyman, Robert Sauer & Frank Eyton). 5. Summertime (George Gershwin & Dubose Heyward). 6. The Old Folks at Home (Swanee River) (Stephen Foster). 7. Tea for Two (Vincent Youmans & Irving Caesar. 8. White Christmas (Irving Berlin). 9. All the Things You Are (Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II). 10. Night and Day (Cole Porter).