I can quite honestly say this interview is a highlight for me. A huge highlight.
Everybody knows the silent era serials, The Little Rascals.
Jean Darling was an original Rascal.
When Jean was working on the serials they were referred to as Our Gang.
Here's a photo of Jean around the time of Our Gang.
I believe it's more famous for the title The Little Rascals.
Either way I feel very humbled and honoured to bring you my interview with Jean Darling.
You spent three years on the “Our Gang” serials. What can you tell us about that?
As our school teacher, Fern Carter, thought I was too young for lessons, Joe Cobb took it upon himself to teach me to add and write in joined up letters. We arrived at the Hal Roach studio at 8 and left about 7PM. I know it seems a long day --- it was. However , the Board of Education stated a child could work only 2 hours a day --- four hours school and two hours rest and 2 hours before the camera. The other time was taken up with make-up lunch --- publicity stills, etc.
“Our Gang” remains very popular to this day. Do you get many calls from fans for autograph signings, or conventions?
I am often at Sons of the Desert Conventions, Silent Film Festivals (if you wish to hear me sing in 2008 go to You Tube and key in Jean Darling “The Cinema Kiss” and Jean Darling “Mr Moving Picture Man”.) When I am at these outings photos and autographs are fast and furious!!!
What advice do you have for people requesting your autograph?
Just ask! As so many young performers of today don’t realise, it is the autograph seeker who pays your salary --- not the producer. If nobody wants your autograph nobody wants to hire you.
Having a scholarship to the New York Municipal Opera Association, it’s save to say you have a great love for singing. What drew you to singing?
Seeing Lily Pons in I Dream Too Much at Pantages Theater in Hollywood when I was about 14.
For some, Broadway is just something of a dream. What can you tell us about your time on Broadway, and in particular, Carousel?
When rehearsals began I was to have 6th billing but in the out of town runs in New Haven and Boston my part grew bigger and when Carousel opened in New York I was as delighted as a dog with two tails to see I had been given 3rd billing!
Alongside singing and performing you have written many mystery stories. What can you tell us about that?
Sick of being an ingénue and having no wish to endure the awful stress of trying to stay young I decided to do something I could do on three wheels and a crutch and still make money, hence a career in writing short mysteries. Then as Aunty Poppy I wrote and read stories for children on RTE radio and TV here in Ireland for 8 years. Also, I wrote a number of plays for radio which is far better than TV. We have unlimited budgets in our imaginations to call upon when reading or listening.
In my corresodence with Jean I have come to realise how much of a sweet heart she really is.
We have been in touch since the interview (as it takes me a while to actually get these blogs up online), and I think Jean's asked me just as many questions about me as I have of her!
Jean, I hope you read and enjoy this blog entry.
Please note that I will be in touch shortly, and honestly if there is ever anything I can do for you you need only ask.
I thank you for your time and your patience with my interviewing skills. They can take some getting used to I'm sure.
I wish you all the very best, always.
I hope my readers enjoyed this interview. I did!
What did you think of this interview? Please comment, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time.