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Animated Earth Chronicles: The Legend of Darla Dimple
DARLA (combined) I
MAMMOTH PICTURES STUDIOS
AUGUST 18, 1929 (SUBJECTIVE)
At this time in my life, I was enjoying the time I got to spend on the movie sets I worked on. Even though I was only on my fifth film at Mammoth Pictures, I felt as if I knew everyone all my life. When I was not on the set, I had to go to school. (Even today, juvenile actors have to spend at least five hours a day in an on-studio lot schoolroom; studio teachers are in movie credits for that reason.) There, I met a number of animal actors I made friends with. Which is ironic, considering the tragedy that was about to happen.
It was day 15-the final day of filming-on my fifth film for Mammoth Pictures, Darladdin and her Magic Lamp. The scene number on the call sheet that day was Scene #52-C. For those who have seen Darladdin, you know which scene I am talking about. For those who haven’t, let me describe it for you.
The heroine, “Darladdin,” has escaped from the treasure cave of the 40 Thieves with the magic lamp in her possession. However, on her way back to her home in the kingdom of Mandratopia, the 40 Thieves stage a massive attack on her ship, causing it to sink. Darladdin then swims to a deserted island, where she uses one of her three wishes to get home.
I loved to swim. So, when I heard I was going to do a swimming sequence in this film, I counted the days to the day when we would shoot the scene. And, I was even more excited when I found out I would get to swim in the “A Tank,” the largest movie studio swimming pool in Hollywood at that time. Finally, August 18-the day of filming on the swimming sequence-had arrived. As soon as Ms. Chapman, the Mammoth Studios schoolteacher, dismissed the class, I ran to Soundstage 23, home of the “A Tank,” and began to get ready for filming.
At last, director Flanigan T. Fosworth, the director, called action. He explains what happened next.
"After I called “action,” Darla began to swim. What we failed to notice was that a power cord had frayed and broke off from the rest of the lighting fixture that we were using to light the scene. Suddenly, the power cord hit the water while Darla was swimming. We rushed to the tank, but the electrician advised us to stay back while his crew tried to cut the power. 30 precious seconds passed before the electrician cleared the medics to retrieve Darla’s body from the tank. She was unconscious, but breathing. She was rushed to the hospital."
What made this incident all the more tragic was that I had decided not to pursue a renewal of my contract with Mammoth Pictures. I wanted to experience as good a childhood as possible and let the animals I met in the schoolroom have a chance at stardom. But, the incident changed everything. As I lay in a coma, I was unaware of how much the incident changed me. When I came out of the coma some seven days later, I knew something was missing.
After I awoke from the coma, I decided to continue my career. I eventually made some 16 films in the 10 years following the incident on the Darladdin set. Then, on April 17th, 1939, I began filming my 31st (and eventually, my final) film for Mammoth Pictures: Lil’ Ark Angel. It was also the day when I would meet the ma—cat who would indirectly lead to my downfall.
From what I later learned, Daniel “Danny” Goldsmith had arrived in Hollywood from his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana the previous day and got a job as the male cat in Lil’ Ark Angel through Farley Wink’s animals-only talent agency.
Once filming began, I began to sing Little Boat on the Sea, the song that accompanied my character’s gathering two of every animal-one male, one female-and putting them on the ark in anticipation of the Great Flood.
When I got to the cats, the female cat said her “meow” as scripted. But, when it was Danny’s turn, he said “meow,” all right. I was annoyed that Danny did not stick to the script, but, as the actor’s creed states, “the show must go on.” So, I went on with the scene. When Danny repeated his improvised “Meow,” I thought, “To heck with the actor’s creed” and shouted for Flanigan to cut. “I hate animals!” I screamed. “Especially that one!” I added, pointing to Danny. It was a statement I would not have made before the accident.
As the crew tried to calm me down with toys, candy and other things a kid likes, my anger began to boil over. Finally, I screamed, “MAX!!!!!!!” The crew became afraid for their lives. The entire wall of the soundstage was decimated as Max, my gigantic bodyguard, came on the scene. I pointed to Danny. Max made his way over to where Danny stood.
Max snatched up Danny. “How does the kitty cat go?” Max said.
“M-M-Meow?” Danny gasped out.
“Very good,” Max said. Max then used his enormous thumb to squeeze Danny out of his hand. The impact sent Danny to the floor of the soundstage-and through it, for that matter. Flanigan describes what he felt.
"I knew that Darla was somehow changed by the accident on the set of Darladdin. However, when I heard Darla scream “I hate animals” when Danny improvised on the Lil’ Ark Angel set, I thought-and I couldn’t say this to you until now, Darla-that you had finally gone over the deep end."
Flanigan was right-I had gone over the deep end. If I didn’t realize it
then, I realized it a few days later. I was on a break from filming when I heard a party going on near my mansion
on the Mammoth Pictures studio lot. So, Max and I went over to where the party
was going on.
As I watched Danny and Sawyer dance, I thought that my career was in serious jeopardy. So, when I heard Danny talk to the male penguin from Lil’ Ark Angel, I had an idea. I turned to Max. “An audition. Hmmm. Max! Invite that cat… to tea.”
While "Darla" was planning her attempt to ruin Danny's quest for stardom, another part of me was waking up.
On the planet Arraka IV lived a community of Bajorans, displaced by the occupation of their true homeworld by the Cardassian Union. On that planet was born a Bajoran girl named Sito Jaxa. Maybe "appeared" would be a better word, as a part of the once-combined Darla Dimple was manifested in the form of Sito Jaxa.
When I was of age, I met a Starfleet officer named Nyota Uhura. Admiral Uhura, one of the most famous officers in Starfleet history-having served with distinction aboard the first two Starships Enterprise-noticed my potential.
Admiral Uhura recalls watching my admissions tests:
"Mrs. Todman, when you were Sito Jaxa, you took to the flight tests like a duck to water. And when you took your physical qualifications test, you blew them all away. I knew right away that when you graduated from the Academy, you would be one of the best officers ever."
So, Admiral Uhura sponsored my application to Starfleet Academy.
Once I arrived at the Academy, I excelled in my studies. And, by the time my freshman year reached its half-way point, I found myself the recipient of an honor few freshmen had ever received. Towards the mid-point of my freshman year, I was appointed to Nova Squadron, an elite Academy flight team. Its cadet captain, Nicholas Locarno, was one of the best pilots at the Academy. But, without a doubt, the most famous member of Nova Squadron at the time was a sophomore cadet named Wesley Crusher.
Crusher had seen more spaceflight experience in four years than any cadet I knew would have in their entire careers, due to his time as the CONN (flight control) officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D. In fact, Crusher-son of Enterprise-D chief medical officer Dr. Beverly Crusher-was at the helm of the Enterprise during its encounter with a Borg cube ship after it caused the destruction of 39 Federation starships and the deaths of 11,000 people in the Battle of Wolf 359.
Towards the end of my freshman year, Nova Squadron was called upon to do a flyover for commencement ceremonies. About a week before commencement, we were on a training run at the Academy test range in orbit of Saturn. We first attempted a Yeager loop. When we achieved that move we got arrogant and decided to attempt a Kolvoord Starburst, a move that while impressive, was dangerous and highly illegal. We decided to attempt the move anyway. It was a decision that would change everything.
My training craft's proximity detector sensors beeped. I looked out of my cockpit window and watched as one ship collided with another. I saw a ship headed for my own. I instinctively reached for the emergency transporter control on the arm of my flight suit. In the milliseconds between the time I beamed off my ship and the time I found myself on the emergency station, I began to see flashes of a life different than my own.
I saw a woman signing some sort of document labeled "Mammoth Pictures Juvenile Acting Contract." I saw a curly-haired reflection in a mirror, wearing a harem girl's outfit. But, before I saw any more…I felt myself resolve on the evacuation station. I only saw three other people on the transporter pad; Nick Locarno, Wesley Crusher and a cadet named Hajar.
I then realized with utter horror what had happened: Joshua Albert, my roommate and friend in Nova Squadron, had been killed in the collision.
A few days later, the Enterprise entered orbit of Earth. Captain Picard was originally supposed to give the commencement address. But now he volunteered to help Starfleet investigate the accident. One day, after the tribunal had dismissed for the day, I beamed aboard the Enterprise to talk to Counselor Deanna Troi about the visions I had been having since the collision.
"Tell me about these visions you described in your
testimony yesterday," Troi said.
"Well, Counselor, I first saw these flashes of another entity as I was in the matter stream between my ship and the evac station," I said. I added: "I was able to see the name on the 'Mammoth Pictures Juvenile Acting Contract.'"
"And what was that name?" Troi asked.
"There were two names," I said. "One was 'Joanna Amelia Romano,' while the other-apparently a stage name-was 'Darla Dimple,'"
A few days later, Admiral Andrea Brand, commandant of the Academy, was ready to close the inquiry. She offered each of us a chance to offer any additional information for the record. Wesley stood up and proceeded to inform Admiral Brand of the attempt at the illegal Kolvoord Starburst. As a result, Admiral Brand handed down her verdict: Nick Locarno would be expelled, while the rest of us would have to repeat the academic year.
I had a lot of problems in the years afterward. For example, when I took my final flight test, I had to take it with my instructor because no one wanted to take it with me. Eventually, I did graduate from the Academy. I expected to be assigned to a garbage scow, given my record. So, you can imagine my surprise when I received my transfer orders.
To: Ensign Sito Jaxa, Stardate 46940.7
You are hereby requested and required to board the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D as of Stardate 47050.7. You have been assigned to serve as Delta Shift Tactical Officer, under the command of Lieutenant Worf, Chief Tactical Officer.
Signed, Vice Admiral Alynna Nechayev, Starfleet Command
I was shocked and surprised, at the same time. I was now a Starfleet officer so I did as I was told. On Stardate 47050.7, I arrived on the Enterprise, but, this was only the beginning.
In our next
Darla Dimple plots Danny’s downfall.
 Reference comes from a poster seen after the “Animal Jam Session” scene in Cats Don’t Dance. The poster is seen behind Darla as she overhears Danny’s wish to perform for L.B. Mammoth, specifically when she says to Max, “…Invite that cat… to tea.” (0:32:42-0:33:00)