Jean Darling, a much loved and adored child artist from the early 20th century, has died. She was 93.
Jean Darling, one of the last surviving original cast members of the beloved early 20th century comedy series Our Gang, died in a nursing home. The 93-year-old veteran actor was suffering from a lung infection, confirmed her friend Rene Riva. Riva had recently directed “The Butler’s Tale,” a short silent comedy film starring Ms. Darling in 2013, reported the New York Times.
Darling was part of the very first season of Our Gang, a comedy series starring children. She was the cute girl with golden curls and a face that strikingly resembled a kewpie doll. She had begun her acting career at a very tender age of four. Notwithstanding the limitations of the black-n-white era of cinema, Jean Darling acted in 46 movies, which were devoid of sound or dialogue. She appeared in six talkies between 1927 and 1929.
Despite tasting huge success and appreciation for her role in Our Gang, Darling always remained a humble performer and continued to appear in films after leaving the series. However, her most notable performance, after leaving the popular series, was the portrayal of Carrie Pipperidge in “Carousel.” Jean Darling gave more than 850 performances for the hit Broadway show, reported MSN. Darling was an immediate hit with both critics and audiences and reciprocated their admiration with her performances.
Apart from starring in silent films and musicals, Jean Darling was also a talented vaudeville performer and acted on radio and television. At a later point of her life, Darling even took to writing. Her penchant for composing short stories is well-known and she has written hundreds of them, which have appeared in publications like Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Whispers. The multi-talented personality even composed two separate autobiographies as well as a full-fledged novel, Marinda.
Born Dorothy Jean LeVake on Aug. 23, 1922, in Santa Monica, California, she had to suffer the separation of her parents at a very young age. Interestingly, she revealed that her father didn’t approve of her starring in movies and this reason was the cause of altercation between her parents. However, her mother persisted and even changed her name to Jean Darling when she was just five months old, and began fishing for auditions for the little girl.
Jean Darling made her debut on Broadway in the musical “Count Me In” in 1942 and married Reuben Bowen, known as Kajar the Magician, in 1954. She is survived by a son and two grandsons, reported ABC News.
[Image Credit | CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images]