Tall, good-looking James Darren was a student of acting coach Stella Adler and made his name in the 1950s in a series of teenage-themed films.
James Darren also gained fame in the early and mid-1960s as a singer, with several hits to his credit, including "Goodbye Cruel World" and "Her Royal Majesty." His film work tapered off in the 1960s, but he did much TV work and had two hit series, The Time Tunnel (1966) in the 1960s and T.J. Hooker (1982) in the 1980s.
When Columbia Pictures' introduced Gidget (1959), initially, James was not given the Moondoggie character in Columbia Pictures' Gidget (1959). because the role required two songs to sing and Darren had not proven himself a capable enough singer.
On his own, he cut a single with the studio's recording subsidiary, Colpix Records, which charted. Columbia changed its mind and gave him the role despite the fact he couldn't surf and was a weak swimmer.
James Darren became a considerable teen idol and reprised the Moondoggie role in both Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961), and Gidget Goes to Rome (1963). Each with different Gidgets: Sandra Dee; Deborah Walley and Cindy Carol.