Lil Ark Angel: Darla Dimple
Darla Dimple the golden-curled, dimple-cheeked, Shirley Temple-on acid child star of Cats Don’t Dance has the distinction of being the youngest animated villain in the canon. She lives in a Barbie-pink Hollywood palace turreted with hearts and decorated with her own film posters and a collection of Darla memorabilia, including a Darla Dimple toothpaste tube which expectorates toothpaste onto the brush out of a plastic Darla-head mouth, similar to a Pez dispenser. When starry-eyed, idealistic Danny arrives in Hollywood to realize his dream of movie-stardom, Darla is amused—until he dares to upstage her opening number. She shrieks for her bodyguard\valet, a huge black gorilla named Max, who proceeds to intimidate Danny. Darla may be a child, but she is a scheming, manipulative brat of who refuses to be outdone. She realizes that the animals, after years of playing degrading bit parts, if anything, are eager for the limelight, and that they have real talent. Something must be done. Darla invites Danny to her pink palace for tea and animal crackers and offers her contacts to Danny. They both know that Darla’s influence could get him into the big time. She makes a veiled threat, biting off the head of an animal-cracker cat, and proceeds to double-check the date of the studio head’s press conference, during which she sneaks into the special effects center and turns on the water valve and thunder and lightning effects, creating a monsoon which leads to chaos for the animals on her loaned ark and drenches the director and press agents. Soggy and furious, the humans tell the animals they will “never nibble kibble in this town again.” Darla can’t resist. She mocks Danny from her limo before collapsing with laughter. Shocked and dejected, the animals feel more oppressed than ever. Danny has let them down. He vows to get them to the premiere of Darla’s film Lil’ Ark Angel, a saccharine quasi-Biblical story where Darla rescues the animal kingdom from Noah’s flood by offering them refuge on her beribboned pink ark, and he does so by forging invitations to the animals. Decked out for the premiere, they sneak in and plan a dance number to perform for the audience. Darla attempts to sabotage them by wreaking havoc with the number, cutting stage-weight sand bags, flipping switches, upsetting flats, and bombarding them with colored light bulbs, all of which actually enhance the show. The audience is floored, and gives them a standing ovation. Furious, Darla shrieks that she “should have drowned them all when she flooded the stage”. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t realize the mic is still until her voice echoes through the theatre, revealing her plot to Hollywood’s elite. Darla’s career is over. The animals go on to star in parodies of famous Hollywood films (from the ‘90’s not the ‘30’s, faux pas) and Darla is relegated to papering the city with their film posters, adding insult to injury.
Darla’s story is reminiscent of all those obnoxiously adorable child stars whose careers evaporate once they’ve hit puberty (or crack.) She dresses like Miss Piggy circa Muppet Babies, and sings like David Bowie or any other androgynous glam-rock star. She is so bizarre as to be fabulous. Gotta love a diva—even if she is only five years old.
Darla Dimple quotes
“How does the kitty cat go?”