by Christopher Wilk(?)
Movie Life, October 1970

The announcement was made discreetly, with no comment offer by the principals: "Kim Darby and her husband of less than two months are divorcing." The news surprised many, especially those who had been present last February 6th when Hollywood's newest feminine sensation wed actor-businessman James Westmoreland. At that time, many columns were still carrying speculative reports that Kim and Peter Duel, after having been steady dates since they met while filming Generation, would soon wed.

Those who know Kim find it difficult to believe that she has been married and divorced twice and had one child, all within a matter of a few years, and all before she's reached her 23rd birthday.

But one person who doesn't find such complicated personal occurrences surprising is a young man about Kim's age. His name is Charles, and he's know Kim since they were classmates at Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys, Calif. They even dated and, while several years have passed since their commencement, Charles recalls Kim's complex personality that has seemingly carried over into her young adult life.

"Kim was always a loner, always by herself, even if she was with a date and at a prom or dancing following a football game. She was always peculiarly attractive, but the look on her face, the wide-open, wandering eyes, always left you with the feeling that her mind was on a subject completely disassociated from what she was doing," Charles, now a successful businessman recalls.

Perhaps much of this can be attributed to her life at home and the effects that life had on her as a child. An only child, Kim was the daughter of a dancing team. They separated and finally divorced shortly after their daughter's second birthday. Both remained dancers and, as the entertainment industry dictates, they continued, as they had all of their married lives, to travel throughout the country, only now individually.

At the divorce hearing, the judge ruled that neither Kim's mother nor father could provide her with the proper environment needed to rear a happy child. Therefore, Kim was placed in the custody of her father with the stipulation that she be given a permanent home with his parents, Mabel and Clyde Zerby.

"Kim was raised by more than adults, let's face it," Charles suggested. "The distance between a youngster and his or her grandparents is much too far. Grandparents are wonderful, don't misunderstand, but they can remember when there wasn't such a thing as television, while persons our age can't remember when there wasn't TV. It's things like that that can't help but create a difference on many topics--an inability to communicate sufficiently, a lack of understanding when a young girl wishes to go to a special party and extend her curfew hours from 11 or 12 to 1 or 2. Grandparents naturally become overprotective, and I think this is why few of Kim's classmates ever got to know her.

"Not because she didn't want friends. On the contrary, I always felt that she yearned for deep and sincere friendships. But she spent most of her waking hours in an adult world, and it was difficult for her, perhaps, to relate to the more juvenile world of her friends."

Looking back on that period of her life, Kim agrees that she missed a lot of things not being raised by younger people.

"Why, when I started True Grit, I was even timid about walking down hills. You see, my grandparents, at their age, didn't walk down hills. So neither did I."

Photo Caption: Kim and Generation co-star Peter Duel were an item all during filming. Filmland thought that they would be exchanging vows.

She agrees that her grandparents sheltered her, but notes that perhaps they did so because she was their only grandchild and they felt responsibility for her care so deeply. As a result, she had little contact with young people at all.

"I didn't have friends as a kid. And most of my friends in high school were older than I was. People I met after I started drama school were my only friends. I really didn't have any friends my own age," she explained.

This is not to imply that she was without contact with her fellow students altogether. As her former classmate related: "She dated, some, but most of the guys found her standoffish. That is, unlike most of the girls, she always hugged the passenger door of her date's car. It was much more common then, as now, for the girl to at least sit somewhere near her date. It was like an unwritten rule.

"And talk, that was difficult, unless, of course, you began talking about acting. Then it was like opening the flood gates, pushing the scramble button, pulling the drainage plug. Zoom, she began talking and communicating on an entirely different level. That's when you could see her real charm and beauty explode before your eyes!"

Kim didn't really miss the school activities for she had now become confident that she was on her way to becoming a star or at least, a working actress. And if she lacked close friends in school, she certainly had ample attention and love at home. She was the center of four adult's lives. Without that love she realizes that she couldn't have excelled so rapidly at acting. That love gave her the motivation to do well so that her grandparents and father and mother would be proud of her.

Although her mother was continuously traveling, Kim's grandparents did see to it that the two were brought together whenever the dancer was in Los Angeles or as near as Las Vegas. These visits weren't, however, too frequent.

"It wasn't my mother's fault. It just worked out that way. She lived across on the other side of town, and then, she had remarried and had another family, and I was very busy taking my lessons and going to school," Kim remarked.

Despite the love and devotion shown her, Kim still had her moments of feeling completely alone. She didn't envision herself as pretty. She longed for long blond hair and big, blue eyes, and, of course, popularity. She was too young yet to realize the beauty she did have and the popularity that was gaining in momentum. The industry she had chosen as her life was beginning to sit up and take notice. That popularity she so much desired was but one film away.

Before it arrived, however, she met and fell deeply in love with Jim Stacy. It was her first real love, and from that love came a beautiful daughter, Heather. But even though Kim loves and cares for her baby, much like, perhaps, her grandparents had done for her, the relationship between her and Jim slowly and painfully grew sour. Within a few months after Heather's birth, they were divorced.

Alone in her home, she showered Heather with as much loving care as she could. She couldn't help but ask herself if her guarded childhood and adolescence had been a major contributing factor in the failure of her marriage.

Photo Caption: But Jim Westmoreland entered the picture, offered marriage and walked off with the prize. It lasted less than two months!

"I guess I was always spoiled. When I got married, I couldn't cook, I couldn't sew or anything like that. No one ever taught me. Oh, I got things done. The house was nice and neat and clean, but it took me all day to do it."

The loneliness she felt, despite the company of Heather, paralleled that which she had felt while in high school. A woman now, she recalled how fortunate she was to have had her grandparents.

Perhaps, a girlfriend suggested, Kim thought that Peter Duel could fill the emptiness in her life as well as become a part-time father for Heather. Since the little girl lives with her mother, she can't see her daddy as often as other little girls. A man around the house could do her some good.

When Peter evidentally didn't indicate a desire to marry her soon, maybe she blindly rushed into matrimony with Jim Westmoreland--because he did.

"I haven't seen Kim for some time now." Charles explained, "but the last time I saw her was when I accidentally bumped into her while shopping. She looked about the same as I remember her in high school, with those big, pretty eyes still wandering while she conversed with me.

Photo Caption: Husband number one, actor Jim Stacy, didn't fare much better in holding on to elusive Kim.

"After talking to her I find it difficult to imagine her happily married until she reaches that pinnacle of popularity she's always sought. And until a man enters her life that can fill that still existing void--loneliness--both for herself and her daughter. I do believe that when all of this happens, it will bring about a Kim Darby no one has ever known, but surely one who has always been there."

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