Although the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine role of Vic Fontaine would let James Darren do what he loved most, sing and act, Darren was originally hesitant to take on the role.
Deep Space Nine Executive Producer Ira Steven Behr had seen Darren perform and wanted him for the 1960s Vegas holographic performer. “That was a real fluke,” said Darren. “I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to play the singer.”
But he met with Behr several days later, memorizing his lines in advance. Behar was impressed. “You’re a clever guy,” he told Darren. Darren decided to accept the role and Vic Fontaine became popular with the Deep Space Nine cast. “[The cast] loved the character,” explained Darren. “It gave the other people in the cast a chance to sing. It was fun. I was sad when it ended.”
Darren started singing at a young age, performing for his grandmother’s friends when he was seven years old. Later, his father took him to local clubs. “I was always hamming around in school,” he said. “I liked acting, but I never did a school play. I was too shy.”
His first acting role was in Rumble on the Docks, but a chance meeting of a producer’s niece led to him getting a role in Gidget (as Moondoggie) and its various sequels. Darren went on to roles in other movies with actors such as Burl Ives, Shelly Winters and Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.) “Deep down inside, you’re in awe of [the actors,] said Darren. “But you’re so busy working, you don’t [find them] intimidating. Some of the fellow actors are helping you.”
Darren worked on another science fiction show in the 1960s, The Time Tunnel, and he appeared in T.J. Hooker several times in 1986, where another Star Trek actor, William Shatner, had the title role.
Since his work on Deep Space Nine, Darren has recorded albums and performed across the country, occasionally accompanied by local symphony orchestras.