Happy Birthday Kim Darby: Celebrating John Wayne’s ‘True Grit’ Co-Star’s 74th

by Katie Maloney
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Happy Birthday, Kim Darby!

The birthday girl, who turns 74 today, is best known for her role in “True Grit.” She starred in the film, along with western legend John Wayne. However, Darby made a name for herself well before, and well after, she starred in the classic western movie. So, in honor of her birthday, we’ve compiled a list of some of Kim Darby’s best career moments.

When She Landed a Role in ‘The Fugitive’

The Fugitive” was a thrilling show about a doctor who is wrongly convicted of murder. He escapes the police but has to stay one step ahead of them while he searches for the real killer. The show was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards and won one. It was also nominated for three Golden Globe awards and won one. In conclusion, landing a role on the show was a big deal. And Kim Darby did just that when she was only 18 years old. She played two characters over the course of one year (1965-66). She played Sharon Wolfe for the 1965 episode titled “An Apple a Day.” And she played Ruth Simmons for the 1966 episode titled “Joshua’s Kingdom.”

When She Played Two Roles in ‘Gunsmoke’

If you wanted to break into acting, specifically westerns, “Gunsmoke” was the show to audition for. And with 20 seasons, “Gunsmoke” was certainly a stepping stone for many up-and-coming actors. Kim Darby was one of those young actors. Just one year after her appearances in “The Fugitive,” Darby landed two different roles on “Gunsmoke.” She played Carrie Neely in the 1967 episode titled “The Lure.” She also played Angel in two episodes from 1967 titled “Vengeance!: Part I” and “Vengeance!: Part II.”

When She Acted on ‘Bonanza’

Basically, Kim Darby covered all the bases when it came to acting in westerns. The same year she appeared in “Gunsmoke,” Darby also landed a role on “Bonanza.” She played Trudy Loughlin for the 1967 episode titled “The Sure Thing.” During the episode, Ben Cartwright buys a teenage girl’s (Kim Darby) horse from her father. But Ben says that he’ll let the girl (named Trudy) ride the horse in a high-stakes race. However, his plans start to unravel when Trudy’s father falls in with a crooked gambler.

When Kim Darby Starred Alongside John Wayne in ‘True Grit’

For decades there was one sign that you made it in the western film world, and that was to star alongside John Wayne in one of his movies. And at the young age of 21, Kim Darby did just that. However, she didn’t play a 21-year-old in the movie. In fact, she portrayed the character Mattie Ross, who was just 14-years-old in the movie. Her performance was so flawless most audiences didn’t even question the fact that there was an adult woman playing a pre-teen. However, there was one person who never quite approved of Darby’s performance. And that man was John Wayne himself. He had wanted his own daughter to play the role but producers went with Kim Darby instead. Although he never admitted it, it seems like he harbored some resentment about the casting choice and took it out on Darby and her performance. Nevertheless, it takes some serious chops to hold your own next to John Wayne in a movie, especially when he doesn’t like you in real life. So, props to Kim Darby!

Outsider.com