WHO WAS FRANKIE DARRO?
To paraphrase a political debate of some years ago, "I knew Frankie Darro, I worked with Frankie Darro (well sort of), Frankie Darro was a friend of mine..." Well you may know the rest. Most young actors today are not Frankie Darro, but then most young actors-or the general public for that matter-have never heard of Frankie Darro. So, who was he? Frankie Darro was one of the most prolific actors of his generation. His career spanned from roles in silent movies through a myriad of starring roles in "B" movies and serials and supporting roles in major "A" films and eventually television. Frankie appeared on screen with a virtual who's who of stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, including Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, the Marx Brothers, James Cagney, and on and on.
Toward the end of his short life Frankie had befriended me and my friend Steve Monzo not long after my eighteenth birthday. Although we remained friends for the final four years of his life, Frankie died before I was able to view some of his best work. I knew of his films mainly from the very few that would pop up on Saturday morning television or some occasional late night showing.
Upon moving to Los Angeles a few years after his death, I decided to do some research on my late friend. I scoured the research libraries and came up with virtually nothing. The information that was available always seemed to be the same few paragraphs, just written in different ways.
With the advent of home video in the early 1980's I started collecting his films. After watching and re-watching these decades old movies, I was constantly amazed by his performances. Even if the plot and everyone else in the film were dull and tired, Frankie would seem to shine. Whether he was the good guy or the tough kid who eventually turned around to be the good guy, Frankie was always eminently watchable.
As time marched on and film books on every subject imaginable began to line book store shelves everywhere, there was still little of note regarding Frankie. I decided to tell his story for one reason. It is my hope that when someone sees Frankie in a film and they are so inclined to find out a little more about his life and films, there would be at least one source available.
It is my hope that this book will at least partially answer the question of who was Frankie Darro?