is an American actress and socialite. She is involved in extensive charity and social work. She is famous for her film Belle of the South, in which she played the titular role.
Darlene was born December 29, 1955 to American businessman Martin Van Kress and his wife Helena. She is the oldest of three children. Her younger siblings are Andrew and Daphne. Darlene was a precocious child who loved to entertain her parents and their friends from a very young age. She would stage plays to perform for them, often enlisting the help of her younger brother. Her mother always said that Darlene was born to be a star.
Darlene began modeling for local companies when she was just thirteen years of age. She helped sell products ranging from cars to toothpaste. When she was eighteen she entered and won the Miss Breakout City pageant. Spurred on by her success she entered the Miss America pageant where she placed as second runner-up. After that success, she moved to Los Angeles where she began auditioning for film roles. She had a couple of bit parts in theater productions in the area before finally landing the role of Belle in Belle of the South, a historical film. Critics widely panned the movie and it did poorly at the box office. The harsh criticism leveled particularly at Darlene put an end to her acting career. She moved back east, returning to Breakout City. The film has since gained a cult following, fueled largely by the home video revolution, and Darlene has enjoyed the accolades of adoring fans ever since. Rumors have been circulating for the last five years that a sequel might be in the works, but the raven-haired beauty who has maintained much of her youthful beauty has remained mum on the topic.
When Darlene returned to Breakout City from Los Angeles, she did not do so alone. She brought with her a fiancé, Jackson Carmichael, who was one of the producers of Belle of the South. The two were wed in an opulent ceremony in May of 1980. The couple has two children: Beaumont and Olivia.
Darlene took up the mantle of matriarch of the family when her mother passed away in 1983. She became the social hostess for the family’s many affairs and functions. She also involved herself in charity work, proving tireless in her efforts to alleviate the suffering of others.