UPDATE: VIDEO PROOF https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXMMiAqqbBk

Thanks everyone that's all for today, thank you so much for all of your questions it was a pleasure talking with you.

Some clips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1YwD7Y7BXc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBbWgHTBHQk

I started in the movies in 1923 at 6 months old and at 4 was a member of OUR GANG, and made 46 silent shorts and 6 sound shorts. After that I performed as a vaudeville entertainer and then created the role of Carrie in the original cast of CAROUSEL, doing 850 consecutive performances on Broadway. I married Kajar the Magician and toured the world, settled in Dublin and wrote mystery stories for Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock magazines, as well as radio plays and stories for RTE radio in Ireland. I am a freelance journalist, make appearances at the world's largest silent film festival in Pordeone, and at Sons of the Desert conventions. My latest mystery novel is entitled Marinda and I have written two autobiographies. Proof: http://imgur.com/eQTqW3g.jpg

Thanks to /u/GrindingNYC for setting this up for me

Comments: 128 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

Downeastah28 karma

How do you remember Hal Roach? What kind of a person was he? Thanks!

JeanDarling47 karma

Well he was always very nice to me. He had heard that I could write when I was 4 years old and he brought some pictures I could sign, he dropped by my dressing room with them, I was supposed to sign "From Your Little Friend Jean Darling." But I left the -r- out of friend...

When he saw I left the -r- out, I went to his film department and autographed a negative with the correct spelling of friend!

Lovella19821 karma

What was it like growing up as a child star?

JeanDarling51 karma

Well it's very easy, just a different kind of life than most people have. You met a lot of people and worked, it could be very interesting. A lot of people say their childhood was stolen, mine was never stolen, I just worked a lot! I might have had more fun if my mother hadn't spent all my money, but that's it!

Dave955720 karma

Any advice for the younger generations? :)

JeanDarling49 karma

To stop thinking of themselves. And don't pay attention to anybody else. I never joined anything, I never felt that I had to be a part of anything, I worked hard and the thing that is most important, before you try, know what you're doing so you can do it well.

Viltsu30019 karma

How does it feel to see today's technology, that didn't exist in 1923?

JeanDarling53 karma

I think it's the saddest thing in the world and I feel so sorry for children. Technology can't be policed. It's going to be our Armageddon. At one time if you wanted a scooter you got a wooden box and split it, got a skate and made a scooter. And you had something you could be proud of. Now everything is spoonfed and there is no imagination. That's just my opinion. Everybody can have their own opinions and that's all right with me. Otherwise everybody would be lawyers. Can you imagine a world full of lawyers? We'd all be suing each other!

Shadou_Fox17 karma

Doing 850 performances is quite a lot it seams like, how often did you perform? And did you ever make any mistakes while performing, and/or had to adapt to someone's mistake onstage?

JeanDarling31 karma

8 times a week. 6 performances and 2 matinees on wed. and sat. Sunday we could go kill pigeons in the park.

Of course, I've gone off on my lines and when you go off on your lines, the person who dislikes you the most in the cast will remind you right before you go on in your next performances. I've done every asinine thing you could do and still come out alright at the end.

You say what they are supposed to be saying to you and you move the words around until you get to a point where what you say will hit some kind of a memory bug in their head where you can continue. Waffle around until a point where they're sensible without blank eyes and such

YourWebcamIsOn19 karma

Sunday we could go kill pigeons in the park

that's an old saying, right? The kids would just go play, not actually kill birds? I can't google it now or else I might look like a weirdo.

JeanDarling50 karma

Don't google and don't be a weirdo. It's just an expression. You're a weirdo to ask me!

YourWebcamIsOn31 karma

damn, I just got told, by one of the Little Rascals!

JeanDarling32 karma

Ha ha! That's cute!

InTupacWeTrust16 karma

How well do you think Steven King compares to Alfred Hitchcock and do you see any similarities between the two. If you do, may you share them?

JeanDarling32 karma

I liked CARRIE. Some of the Hitchcocks are wonderful, but I can't say anything because I write stories for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, so I better keep my mouth shut.

suaveitguy15 karma

I have heard Stan Laurel in particular was a generous man with his time and experience. Do you have a favorite bit of advice from him? Any memories of working with him?

JeanDarling27 karma

Stan was nice, kind, a ladies' man. Because he didn't want me to be drowned, he took me to Bimini baths to teach me to swim. I revolted and said I wasn't going to wear anything except a bathing suit, so he came to work in a bathing suit too. I was cold at night and said I'd put my clothes back on and so we came to an agreement and put normal clothes on again.

Daymanahaaah11 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA, you've led an amazing life. In recent years child stars have had a bad name. Some contribute their downfall to the heightened media craze with celebrities, paparazzi and more recently, social media. Do you think you would have "survived" growing up a child star in later generations? What piece of advice would you give the child stars of today?

JeanDarling20 karma

They should realize that it's best to try for something else because they can never attain the same stardom they had as a child. When you're a child you're in a different place, you're cuddly, you're treated differently, people like to pet you.

Daymanahaaah8 karma

Thank you for your reply. You've done quite well for yourself in diversifying your talent and remaining successful in the industry. What do you contribute that to? Luck, good advice or something else?

JeanDarling17 karma

Getting fed up with what I was doing and trying something new.

suaveitguy11 karma

What are your memories of Hollywood's evolution? You would have been born at the same time as it began its big city heyday, it will have grown up at the same time as you. What did the birth of all that 'glamour' look like? What about the relationship between actors and the press?

JeanDarling26 karma

Movies were well on the way by the time I arrived!

I was in silents and I remember when the talkies came in, they were quite a revolution because now on set we had these giant fuzzy sausages hanging too low and we always hit our heads on them.

Everyone was going blind because of the lights, they said, we'll make all the actors blind. They were Kleig Carbon Arc lights. I tried to work and the board of education wouldn't let me work because of the lights when I was 6 years old. So I got glasses.

People wanted to go out and have the photographers take pictures of them, get written up in the newspaper. A lot of Hollywood was people, the nuvo-riche, that look good in furs and don't have a brain in their head. A lot of so-called stars were going to Europe and trying to marry a Lord or Prince.

It was actually a nicer time then than it is today, and nobody now will get a city meeting them, like this little rat did, and like anyone in show business did at the time.

Jubles10 karma

What do you miss from old movies that aren't in new movies? And do you still keep in touch with your fellow actors and actress friends?

JeanDarling25 karma

I like the lighting and that I could recognize one from the other. Today it seems that everyone is cloned.

ladydangerdame10 karma

Hi! You look fabulous! Our Gang was a big part of my childhood thanks to my father. I'm 25 years old today and still love Hal's Rascals. Did you keep in touch with any of the gang for a while after working with them? I remember reading about George McFarland (Spanky) staying in touch with many of the cast. Thanks for your time and talent!

JeanDarling14 karma

I never kept in touch with anybody except Edith Fellows, and then only because she was on Broadway when I was.

MisterTanuki9 karma

Hi Jean!

What are your thoughts on the so called "curse" of the Our Gang crew? There was a lot of tragedy that followed many of you.

Thanks Jean!

JeanDarling53 karma

That was a bunch of balderdash written by someone who probably walked past Culver City stop on the train. A book was named that. Three kids out of hundreds came out badly. Hardly the average for any business. The curse is a lot of nonsense.

i_run_far9 karma

What was it like back then for child actors? Were you on the set all day? Did you go to school? Were the hours long? I love the original little rascals and you were adorable in those episodes!

JeanDarling17 karma

Thank you. We worked four hours a day, with a lunch break in the middle. Plus however long it took to get there before and then to get home. Usually 7-7 was my day.

cosmotravella8 karma

how is your health?

JeanDarling29 karma

I'll put it this way, I'm very happy with what I've got left :)

CanonFan7 karma

Did you know Joe Cobb and, if so, was he as nice as he seemed on screen? Joe was one of my favorites.

JeanDarling11 karma

Joe was very nice and he was the prime instigator of my being able to read and write. His father and Farina's mother were two of my favorite people on the lot.

suaveitguy6 karma

Was vaudeville an experience akin to Broadway, or more of a 'bus and truck' experience through cowtowns? I find the era really interesting, and without a real comparison to any part of show business today. Is there anything like it anymore?

JeanDarling17 karma

No, there's nothing like it any more. And it wasn't cowtowns. I played Chicago twice. You played different places. Some theaters loved you and the audiences loved you too. And in the next town they hated you. Vaudeville was a wonderful experience and the best time of my life. And a place to learn your trade, pay your dues.

suaveitguy6 karma

Thanks! What was your act?

JeanDarling13 karma

Song, dance and patter. It was 12 minutes. I entered through a breakaway screen that showed snips from the comedies and the last one was me getting married to Harry Spear. And I walked through the screen in my wedding gown, singing "Little Things of Life."

mclhead6 karma

After touring the world and doing 850 consecutive performances on Broadway, what made you decide to settle in Dublin?

JeanDarling24 karma

I didn't. I stopped there. The only thing I wanted to do was to spend the rest of my life on tramp steamers, go everywhere else in the world nobody had been. I had a pet and the flat that I wanted to rent wouldn't allow it, so I bought a house for the cat.

gracebatmonkey4 karma

How delightful! So glad to see you here. OG/LR provided a big bonding opportunity between me and family members of earlier generations, and your character specifically is one of my favourites.

As a freelance journalist, what do you prefer to report on?

JeanDarling15 karma

A person's life, not that they take drugs or get drunk. For instance, I asked Bob Geldof's wife Paula Yates to tell me something people didn't know. She said when they go to bed, they have a dog who pulls Paul's socks off, brings them to his bed and sleeps with the socks on his head. That's the sort of thing I like writing about.

gracebatmonkey3 karma

Oh, how I wish that was the type of the thing the endless celebrity mill was more about - just getting to know them as people, not climbing down into all of their dark corners (real or, often, imagined).

In case you've time for a follow-on question, does your own experience with having people digging into your history and challenges inform this preference?

JeanDarling16 karma

Well, in answer to your question, don't believe 99% of the crap you read in the newspaper. A lot of it is made up. Somebody interviewed me and asked me if I ever drank or took drugs and I said no, because I didn't want to lose myself. When the article came out it said I had given up drink and drugs. I repeat, don't believe what you read in the papers.

AlexBerghe4 karma

Who's the person that inspires you the most ? :D

JeanDarling17 karma

Marie Dressler. When I congratulated her on winning an Oscar for Min and Bill with Wallace Beery, she said "What do you do when you get to the top? The most fun is climbing the ladder, so all you can do is find another ladder to climb."

random_gshep4 karma

Hi! How did you get into acting? What do you think of recent movies?

JeanDarling9 karma

I love Guarding Tess (which is 20 years old). I like that one.

suaveitguy3 karma

Moving Pictures by Budd Schulberg seems to me to be the best account of the silent era I have read. What did you think of it? What are your favorites?

JeanDarling18 karma

What I like about the silent movies is mostly we had actors and even when we got into the early talkies we had people you could recognize, now i am firmly of the belief that what we have now in Hollywood is clones, because you could hardly recognize one star from the other without a computer program.

CapitalEm3 karma

What was the highlight of your experiences on stage with Carousel? And do you have any good stories about Rodgers and Hammerstein?

JeanDarling11 karma

We went out to White Castle for a hamburger after a show in Boston, and all of a sudden Dick Rodgers sees a man and takes off after him. The man keeps running and we start running after Dick. When he gets out of breath, we ask him what it was all about. He says, "The man was whistling 'If I Loved You!' [from Carousel, which had just opened in Boston.]"

Highlight: primarily that I got the part! It was a continuing highlight.

stlouisbrowns3 karma

What was your name in Our Gang? Who were you?

JeanDarling20 karma

Jean. little blond curly haired girl. Don't be so silly, if you've never watched the silents YOU HAVE NOT LIVED.

arguingwithmymonkey3 karma

Was your mom and dad in vaudeville? How did you get your start at only 6 months old? I am just curious to know what made your parents decide to put you to work in the movies.

JeanDarling14 karma

My grandfather Frank C. Hamilton was a producer on Broadway. He died of Influenza in the 1918 epidemic. My mother went into a road company of a show that went belly up in Savannah. She then for 15 minutes became a Sob Sister, but the call of the movies was too strong so she went to Hollywood and started in movies doing second leads. Then she married a oil wildcatter who said if you take her to central casting, I won't be here when you get back. She did and he kept his word and that was the end of my father.

dalybear2 karma

My parents literally gave us all of the Little Rascals videos on VHS so I have grown up with "Our Gang", thank you for doing this AMA! Where in Ireland did you work and how did you get to Ireland?

JeanDarling4 karma

My husband and I were in Amsterdam and we were booked for Magicadabra at the Olympia theater 2 weeks before Easter By boat. We got a residency in Dublin because storage in England cost 25 pounds per month, and in Ireland 2 pounds per month.

suaveitguy2 karma

What are you nostalgic for? If Our Gang is from 50 years before most of us on here were born, do you have an equivalent?

JeanDarling8 karma

I am not nostalgic for anything, what was yesterday was yesterday. Looking at myself as a child, I don't feel a connection to that person although I know it's me, I've grown past it. Like looking at myself in Carousel, I don't look back, what's done is done.

slid3r2 karma

Do you still have this hat?

JeanDarling8 karma

no it wasn't a hat, kind of a tiara thing