Frankie Darro — A Peacable Guy (1935) 🇺🇸

Frankie Darro — A Peacable Guy (1935) |

August 16, 2023

He can look pretty tough, with his tousled black hair and his pugnacious jaw, so they usually cast Frankie Darro as the boy who throws rocks through the neighbors’ windows.

by Drummond Tell

That’s rather hard on a lad who is just a peacemaker at heart, Frankle doesn’t like to battle. He’ll go a block out of his way to avoid a fellow who might have a chip on his shoulder.

But if you get right down to cases, Frankie will peel off his coat and fight. He’s no slouch at it, either, because it’s this way — the kids all get to thinking he is a bellicose boy from the parts he plays on the screen, so they expect him to be combative off the screen as well.

That’s Frankie’s secret sorrow. None of the kids will believe he hates fighting.

At the same time, “sissy’’ is a righting word to Frankie. He had just had much trouble when he was very young, trying to avoid being called a sissy, as he has now trying to live down his screen reputation.

The way that started was, in Frankie’s words, like this:

“Mother and dad were theatrical people, and traveled over the vaudeville circuits. Of course they took me along. Well, I was what they called a ‘cute’ little boy. Gee, I hated that!

“I suppose parents like to dress a kid up and have people admire him. But that’s not all. I had long yellow curls! It was terrible!”

“Yellow curls?” I asked in surprise. “Why, your hair’s jet black!”

“I’m coming to that,” Frankie said patiently. “I got so sick of those curls that one day I went into a vacant dressing room and took a pair of shears. I had plenty of time, so I cut off my hair clean down to the skin. Smack bareheaded, I was.

“I caught ‘Hail Columbia,’ you bet! But did I feel swell! Then my hair started to grow in, and it grew in black, just like it is now. Funny, huh?”

Frankie laughed gleefully at the recollection. Then he told me more about the facts of his life, which are rather meager. But one must make allowances. After all, Frankie has just turned sixteen.

His birthday is December 22nd, and he has been in pictures fourteen years.

Those two facts are rather important to a boy. Being born so close to Christmas sort of cuts down on the birthday presents. And being fourteen years in pictures means that movies are old stuff to Frankie. His first picture was Judgment of the Storm, in which he realistically enacted an infant in a cast with Anna Q. Nilsson and Myrtle Stedman. That’s going back into history! His father and mother didn’t quite know how to work young Frankie into their act when he arrived, but he learned later to do cartwheels and make a little curtain speech that always brought down the house.

Then Mrs. Darro had a nervous breakdown, and that ended the act. Fortunately, Frankie carried on the Darro theatrical tradition and got a job in pictures.

He’s acknowledged to be one of the best little actors in Hollywood. I went to visit his set during the making of Little Men. A crowd of youngsters were sitting in the back yard of the farm, having a grand time putting on a circus. Little Dickie Moore was the ringmaster, in an old top hat and big coat. Two blankets on a clothesline was the stage curtain. Dickie gets up and announces, “The world’s guh-ratest acrobat, ladies and gen’lemun!” and they haul back the curtain for a kid who tries a trapeze stunt — and falls with a thump.

“Aw, I can do a better trick than that!” yells Frankie, jumping up in the audience. And the argument is on. It’s always like that for Frankie — he has to do a lot of fighting in his pictures.

Of course you remember the story of Little Men. How Dan, the orphan, comes to the school for boys, is suspected of theft and sent to a reformatory, escapes, and comes back. Frankie is Dan, and he fits the part perfectly. You’ll like him even better after you see him as a poor outcast, shining shoes for a living. You’ll weep over the troubles he gets into, and be glad when everything turns out happily. Little Men is the sequel to Little Women, telling what happened liter the teacher married Jo. Erin-O’Brien Moore plays the part of Jo, who mothers the boys.

Frankie is like all boys — he has a hobby. He collects old coins, and if you have any to swap, write him in care of Mascot Pictures, Hollywood. Only he won’t swap two that he values very highly — an American penny one hundred and thirty-five years old and a rare half-dime.

Frankie has a typical boy’s room! covered with photographs, pennants, sabers, and guns. He has a flint-lock hanging on the wall that is his particular joy.

He’s a dandy fellow, and you’d like him as much off the screen you do on it. But please remember, if you ever meet Frankie Darro, that he won’t square off and start a fight He is the soul of peace.

Junior Durkin came by as we finished our talk, and Frankie hailed him.

“Hey, Junior, remember we gotta fight this afternoon. And if you don’t pull your punches, I’ll just naturally beat the stuffin’ out of yuh!” Of course, no story of a regular boy would be complete without a dog somewhere in the background. Frankie is no exception. Also he bears out tradition by asserting that his dog is the best that ever waggled a tail. I asked him what kind of dog it was.

“Well, it’s hard to say what Peggy is,” Frankie confessed. “But I was talking with a man the other day who said she must have a fine pedigree, because he’d never seen another dog quite like her.”

We strolled back to the set. where all the kids were having milk and crackers.

“Have you any superstitions’” I asked.

“Shucks, no. I always whistle in my dressing room. I don’t believe that can bring me bad luck, because after I whistle I take the curse off. I go outside and spit. No, can’t say I have any superstitions.”

All good interviews should include a romantic touch, and it wouldn’t do to leave out that element in the story of Frankie Darro. Of course he doesn’t have much time for girls.

However, if you pin him down to it, he admits that he often takes pretty Virginia Carlon to the football games. If you want to tease him about having a girl, I think it’s safe to mention Virginia.

At any rate, he won’t fight about the subject. That’s his unhappy fate — to be taken for a fighter when, he says, he’s the most peaceable guy in the world.

Frankie Darro — A Peacable Guy (1935) |

Here we see Frankie in a scene from Little Men, which is a sequel to Little Women, with Tad Alexander, David Durand, Richard Quine, George Ernest, Dickie Moore, Tommy Bupp, and Ralph Morgan.

Though just turned sixteen, Frankie Darro has been in pictures for fourteen years. His parents were theatrical folks, so he comes by his acting ability naturally.

Frankie Darro — A Peacable Guy (1935) |

Collection: Picture Play Magazine, March 1935