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Kim Darby
Kim Darby 1974.JPG
Darby as a guest-star on Marcus Welby, M.D. and Owen Marshall, Counsellor at Law in 1974
Deborah Zerby

(1947-07-08) July 8, 1947 (age 75)
Years active1962–present
  • (m. 1968; div. 1969)
  • James Westmoreland
    (m. 1970; div. 1970)

Kim Darby (born Deborah Zerby; July 8, 1947)[1] is an American actress best known for her role as Mattie Ross in the film True Grit (1969).

Early life and film career

Darby was born Deborah Zerby in Los Angeles, the daughter of professional dancers Inga (Wiere) and Jon Zerby (the "Dancing Zerbys" or "Dancing Zerbies"). Her father nicknamed her Derby saying "I thought Derby Zerby would be a great stage name".[2] Her mother was from Budapest.[3] Her mother's siblings were comedians who performed as the Wiere Brothers.[citation needed]

She performed as a singer and dancer under the name "Derby Zerby".[4] Believing that she could not "hope for serious important roles in films with a name like "Derby Zerby", she renamed herself "Kim", because it was the name of a popular girl in her high school whom she admired, and "Darby", as a variation of "Derby".[5]

Darby began acting at age 15; her first appearance was as a dancer in the film Bye Bye Birdie (1963). Her television work included Gunsmoke (1967 episodes "The Lure" and "Vengeance"); Bonanza (1967 episode "The Sure Thing"); and as a young girl approaching adulthood on an all-child planet in the "Miri" episode of the original Star Trek series.[6]

Among her many films are True Grit, in which she played a 14-year-old when she was 21 years old; The Strawberry Statement (1970);[7] Norwood (1970); The One and Only (1978);[8] Better Off Dead (1985); and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995).[6]

Television roles

Darby's 1960s television roles included two appearances on the NBC series Mr. Novak, starring James Franciscus; she was cast as Julie Dean in "To Lodge and Dislodge" (1963) and as Judy Wheeler in "The Silent Dissuaders" (1965).

Darby also appeared about this time on The Eleventh Hour, The Fugitive, The Donna Reed Show, Ironside, and in the first season of Star Trek as the title character in "Miri".[6]

Darby was cast in an episode of the NBC sitcom The John Forsythe Show ("'Tis Better Have Loved and Lost", 1965). and as Angel in the two-part Gunsmoke episode "Vengeance". She appeared in the episode "Faire Ladies of France" (1967) of the NBC western series The Road West starring Barry Sullivan and a Bonanza episode "A Sure Thing" (1967) as Trudy Loughlin, guest starring Tom Tully as Burt Loughlin, her father.[6]

She appeared in three episodes of Gunsmoke: "The Lure" (1967) as Carrie Neely, and "Vengeance: Part 1" (1967) and "Vengeance: Part 2" (1967) as Angel. She was cast in the 1972 movie, The People, which also starred William Shatner, reuniting them from her Star Trek appearance.[9] She played the unhinged Virginia Calderwood in the first television miniseries, Rich Man, Poor Man in 1976.[6]

Darby had the central role of Sally Farnham in the made-for-TV chiller Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973). Some of subsequent television roles included guest appearances on Crazy Like a Fox, Thriller, Family, The Love Boat, The Streets of San Francisco, Riptide, and Becker.[6]

Darby admitted her career declined after the 1970s, in part because she had a dependency on amphetamines.[10]

According to Pilar Wayne in her book My Life with John Wayne, Darby purposely set out to be rude to Wayne and others during the filming of True Grit. Wayne, for his part, called her a "spoiled brat".[citation needed]

In 1990, she began to teach acting in the Los Angeles area and has been an instructor in the extension program at the University of California, Los Angeles, since 1992. Darby also appeared in the 1999 The X-Files episode "Sein und Zeit" as a woman who confessed to the murder of her son, a boy who disappeared under circumstances similar to those being investigated by the lead characters, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.[6]

In 2014, she played Stacia Clairborne, a partially blind witness to a crime, in the episode "Prologue" of the show Perception.

Personal life

Darby has been married twice.[11] In 1968, she married James Stacy, with whom she had one child, Heather Elias, born in 1968.[8] Their marriage ended in divorce in 1969.[12][13] In 1970, she married James Westmoreland; the marriage ended in divorce after less than two months.[14][15][16][17][18][19]


TV appearances


  1. ^ "Kim Darby". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  2. ^ Sackett, Susan (1995). Hollywood Sings!: An Inside Look at Sixty Years of Academy Award-nominated Songs. Billboard Books. p. 200. ISBN 9780823076239.
  3. ^ "The Zest of Jon Zerby". Daily News of Los Angeles. July 16, 1997.
  4. ^ Adrian Room (2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms. McFarland. p. 132. ISBN 9780786457632.
  5. ^ Miller, Edwin (June 1969). "A New Name... A New Life (Kim Darby)" (PDF). Seventeen – via Kim Darby's website.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Kim Darby". TV Guide. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  7. ^ Sterritt, David. "The Strawberry Statement (1970)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  8. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (7 February 1978). "Kim Darby: The One and Only | Interviews". Chicago Sun-Times – via
  9. ^ "The People (1972 USA, TV)". Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  10. ^ Sam Tweedle (2011-01-20). "Truth and Grit: A Conversation with Kim Darby". Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict. Archived from the original on 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  11. ^ "Life Magazine". Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  12. ^ Weisberg, Sam (16 July 2014). "The Mouse That Charmed: An Evening with Kim Darby". Hidden Films. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  13. ^ "Kim Darby". tcmdb. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  14. ^ "Truth and Grit: A Conversation with Kim Darby - Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict". Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  15. ^ Wise, Trudy (July 1970). "He Was Like a Stranger to Me". Motion Picture Magazine. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  16. ^ Barnes, Mike (21 September 2016). "James Westmoreland, Forced by His Agent to Ditch His Stage Name, Dies at 80". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  17. ^ "Biography". Jim Westmoreland. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  18. ^ "James Westmoreland Obituary (1935 - 2016) The Times-Picayune". Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  19. ^ Fox, Kirk (21 September 2016). "James Westmoreland (1935 - 2016)". Retrieved 8 September 2022.