Severn Darden was born in New Orleans, educated at Mexico City College, and given his first professional acting opportunity at Virginia's Barter Theater. A charter member of the Compass Theater, the improvisational group that would later evolve into Second City, Darden distinguished himself as an "intellectual" monologist, effortlessly weaving allusions to Freud and Kant into his hilariously nonsensical ramblings. From 1963's Goldstein onward, Darden worked in films as a character actor and sometimes writer/director. He chalked up quite a few eccentric characterizations in films like Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1966) and They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). He was at the top of his form in The President's Analyst (1967) as Kropotkin, a gay Soviet counterintelligence agent who turns out (much to his own surprise) to be one of the film's heroes. The peripatetic Severn Darden settled down long enough to appear as a TV-series regular on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1977; as Popesco), Beyond Westworld (1980; as Foley), and Take Five (1987; as psychiatrist Noah Wolf).