Sunday, July 5, 2020

Born Today July 5: Jamie Darling

[Poster for David Copperfield (1913) in which he played Daniel Peggotty]

1850 (or 1951)-1934

Almost forgotten, British silent film actor Jamie Darling was born Thomas Dawson Walker on this day in Hull, England (interesting factoid: the town was located for a time in the ceremonial county of Humberside in the north eastern part of the country). There are scant biographical materials on him, but what is known is that he was a successful performer in musical theater in the Victorian music halls. He seems to have had at least one, possibly more stage names during this period of his life. He appears to have changed his name again to enter films.  His first film appearance (as far as we know) came when he was 60 or 61 years of age; that film was actually a milestone: an early full sound film featuring the  Cecil Hepworth invention the Vivaphone. Are We Down-Hearted? was a short full sound comedy directed by Frank Wilson and featured Madge Campbell. He was hired as a stock player for the Hepworth Co., and he stayed with them for the entirety of his film career; all of his film credits come from the Hepworth catalogue. Hepworth was the innovator of the feature length film in the UK and Darling was again part of history with his appearance in the company's 1 hour and 7 minute long version of Dickens' David Copperfield in 1913.  Of the 15 films that Darling acted in for Hepworth during the years 1911-1915, four of them were features: The Vicar of Wakefield (1913), The Cloister and the Hearth (1913) and another Dickens adaptation The Old Curiosity Shop (1913).  His last film was another short comedy: Cock 'o the Walk with Chrissie White in 1915. Darling/Walker died on the 10th of November 1934 in Norfolk at the age of 83 or 84. I can find no information on burial. 

[Still from The Vicar of Wakefield]


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