Darren began his career as a teen idol. This encompassed roles in films, most notably his role as Moondoggie in Gidget in 1959, as well as a string of pop hits for Colpix Records, the biggest of which was "Goodbye Cruel World" (#3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961). He is also featured in one of the Scopitone series of pop music video jukebox films ("Because You're Mine"). Darren's role in the gritty 1961 World War II film The Guns of Navarone was an attempt to break out of his teen image.
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