July 8, 1947
(m. 1968; div. 1969)
(m. 1970; div. 1970)
Kim Darby (born Deborah Zerby; July 8, 1947) is an American actress best known for her role as Mattie Ross in the film True Grit (1969).
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". Her mother was from Budapest. Her mother's siblings were comedians who performed as the Wiere Brothers.
She performed as a singer and dancer under the name "Derby Zerby". 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 that she admired, and "Darby", as a variation of "Derby".
Darby began acting at age fifteen. 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 reaching adulthood on an all-child planet in the haunting, renowned episode "Miri" on the original Star Trek series.
Among her many films are True Grit, in which she played a fourteen-year-old when she was twenty-one years old; The Strawberry Statement (1970); Norwood (1970); The One and Only (1978); Better Off Dead (1985); and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995).
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".
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.
She appeared in 3 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 their Star Trek appearance. She played the unhinged Virginia Calderwood in the first television miniseries, Rich Man, Poor Man in 1976.
Darby had the central role of Sally Farnham in the made-for-TV chiller Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973). Subsequent television roles included guest appearances on Crazy Like a Fox, Thriller, Family, The Love Boat, The Streets of San Francisco, Riptide, and Becker.
Darby admitted her career declined after the 1970s partly because she became an amphetamine addict.
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".
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 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.
In 2014, she played Stacia Clairborne, a partially blind witness to a crime, in the episode "Prologue" of the show Perception.
Darby continues to make guest appearances on television and to make occasional films.
Darby has been married twice. In 1968, she married James Stacy, with whom she had one child, Heather Elias, born in 1968. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1969. In 1970, she married James Westmoreland; the marriage ended in divorce after less than two months.