Darby Hinton played Israel, the son of Daniel Boone on the classic 1960’s television series starring Fess Parker. From the moment he got on the phone to talk with me about the series and its new release on DVD he made me feel like we were old friends.
I’m so excited to talk to you! When I told my husband I’d be interviewing you, we both started singing that Daniel Boone theme song!
Did you remember all the words?
Well, maybe not all of them!
You know, when we all got together in honor of the DVD release, we couldn’t get it straight between us.
That makes me feel better! How did you originally get the part?
I got it on kind of a fluke. I thought I was going on an interview for “The Sound of Music. At that time the youngest one was supposed to be a boy so I was dressed in lederhosen. My mother was driving me to the audition and she was always late to everything. She dropped me off to find a parking spot and I went into the building and got into the first line of kids I saw. I went in and met with the producer and everybody and came out of the interview. My mom said, “You were supposed to be upstairs!” and I said, “But whatever that is, I just got it.” I started out as Nathan Boone for the pilot with an older brother, but by the time the show began it was just one son named Israel, and that was me.
I always wanted to be Veronica Cartwright.
It was fun to reconnect with her.
And with Fess Parker, too, I imagine.
I stayed close to Fess Parker. We had a great couple of hours, shooting a documentary on the real Daniel Boone, in the places he really was. It was so much fun to sit down and talk with him, talking about america’s first legend with a current legend. It was a magical moment. And Ed Ames’ voice is still so magical.
Did you have a favorite episode?
A lot of them! I always loved animals, so it was always fun to work with the animals for the show. My mom was an only child with strict German parents so she wanted us to have the pets she did not have. I had my own raccoon, foxes, and snakes, even a wild boar! There was the episode where Israel fell in love and had his first screen kiss. The first time we shot it they said Israel shouldn’t kiss that well so we had to reshoot. A little frontier boy wasn’t supposed to be that well-versed.
Did you know the other television child stars of that era?
I was one of four kids from TV that Art Linkletter brought to Washington, DC for a show called “A Kid’s Eye View of Washington.” We had tours of everything, the Smithsonian, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where I got to shred a million dollars worth of bills. We got to meet Nixon and see the Hope Diamond. Maureen McCormick from “The Brady Bunch” was one of the other kids, but I didn’t rate a mention in her new book!
What television shows did you like when you were a kid?
“To Catch a Thief” — there was nobody cooler, nobody more suave with the ladies than Al Mundy. I once crept onto the set and saw Robert Wagner tied up with his arms around the beautiful girl. He looked over at me and said, “Hey kid, do they treat you this good on your set?” It meant the world that he knew who I was. I also loved “The Wild Wild West.”