1943 - 1949
1917 - 1930 | 1931 - 1932 | 1933 - 1934 | 1935 - 1937
1938 - 1942 | 1943 - 1949 | 1950 - 1976
No movies are listed in Frankie’s filmography between the years 1943 and 1946. This is because, like most young men at the time, Frankie went into the service, joining the Navy to serve his country during World War II (see photo, left). According to one article, Frankie joined the Navy in April 1942. "He went through boot training and Hospital Corps School at San Diego Naval Training Station. When [asked how] he happened to choose the Hospital Corps when he joined the Navy, he laughingly replied, 'I didn't, the Navy chose it for me.'" The article goes on to report, "While overseas Frankie spent most of his time in Surgery and acquired a first-hand knowledge of the need for blood plasma and whole blood. Appropriately enough, one of the first things he did when he reported to this station was offer to make a blood donation. His offer was rejected, however, because he had contracted malaria during his tour of duty in the islands. Upon release from the Navy, Frankie plans to resume his career with Monogram Pictures. He was under contract to that studio for six pictures of the action, murder-mystery variety when he left for the Navy."
Oddly enough after getting out of the service, Frankie went from college to high school in 1946 in the first of a series of films called The TeenAgers. Frankie played Roy, a tough kid who’s a friend but also sometimes an adversary of Freddie, the group's leader, but not so much of an adversary as to not be part of the gang himself (think of Reggie in The Archies). This series of films included the movies Junior Prom (photo, right), Campus Sleuth, Freddie Steps Out, High School Hero, Sarge Goes to College, Vacation Days and Smart Politics, made between 1946 and 1948.
Frankie made his last serial appearance in 1946 in an uncredited role as The Creeper in Chick Carter, Detective. He also played another jockey in That’s My Man, made in 1947. Frankie experienced what a lot of young actors returning from the service did . . . that roles were few and far between and Hollywood had become a whole new industry.
There were a few more roles for Frankie at Monogram Studios, which at the time was producing the very popular Bowery Boys series starring Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall. Frankie would make four notable appearances in these movies in 1948 and 1949, alternately playing good guys and bad guys. His first good guy role was in Angels’ Alley (photo, left), in which he plays a cousin of Slip (Gorcey) who reappears after serving time and starts to fall into his old ways until he has a turn of heart and tries to make good, ultimately helping The Boys thwart the bad guys. In Trouble Makers, he plays Feathers, a villain through and through who makes life tough for Gabe Moreno (Gabriel Dell), a rookie cop trying to make good while the other Boys are trying to convince their buddy they saw a murder take place.
Frankie gives his best Bowery Boys performance in Fighting Fools (photo, right) as a down and out boxer who makes a comeback after the death of his younger brother, who has died in the ring as a result of the same racketeers who drove Frankie’s character out of the fight game. But Frankie’s back to being the bad guy in Hold That Baby! as Bananas, another former buddy gone bad who tries to interfere when he finds out The Boys have a baby which may be worth a lot of money to certain people. Frankie’s appearances in the Bowery Boys films were enjoyable and he fit in well with the gang, but sadly his participation was limited to these four films. For many he was a integral part of the Dead End Kids / Bowery Boys movies, appearing in so many of precursors and copycats of those films. Frankie was even a pallbearer at Bobby Jordan’s funeral, along with the other five original Dead End Kids.
Around this time Frankie appeared in Heart of Virginia (yet another jockey role) and Sons of New Mexico. Frankie also made in-person appearances in various clubs. In May 1948, Frankie appeared as a guest star in the All Western Jamboree at the Rose Garden Ballroom in Pismo Beach, California. And in August 1948 Frankie was also making appearances with Jackie Moran (who played Jimmy Forrest in several of the TeenAgers films) on stage at The Hawaiian Village run by "Red" Redfern. It's not clear exactly where this Hawaiian-style venue was (the address is listed as Vermont at 107th Street and the phone is listed as THornwall 2587) but the act Frankie and Jackie put on was most likely a musical and comedy revue (as seen in the photo to the left). A card promoting the event reads "The Hawaiian Village proudly announce the opening engagement of two great guest stars of Screen and Stage, Frankie Darro and Jackie Moran. They will greet you, seat you and entertain you. Come on down . . . Anything can happen and probably will."