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Thread: Jonathan Frid, the original Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows, dies at 87

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    Gold Member VeraGemini's Avatar
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    Default Jonathan Frid, the original Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows, dies at 87

    TORONTO — Jonathan Frid, a Canadian actor best known for playing Barnabas Collins in the 1960s original vampire soap opera “Dark Shadows”, has died. He was 87. Frid died Friday of natural causes in a hospital in his home town of Hamilton, Ontario, said Jim Pierson, a friend and spokesman for Dan Curtis Productions, the creator of “Dark Shadows.”

    Frid starred in the 1960s gothic-flavored soap opera about odd, supernatural goings-on at a family estate in Maine.
    His death comes just weeks before a Tim Burton-directed version of Dark Shadows is due out next month starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. Frid has a cameo role in the new movie in which he meets Depp’s character in a party scene with two other original actors from the show.
    Pierson said Burton and Depp were fans of Frid, who played a vulnerable vampire in one of the first sympathetic portrayal of the immortal creatures.
    “Twenty million people saw the show at its peak in 1969. Kids ran home from school and housewives watched it. It had a huge pop culture impact,” Pierson said.

    Pierson said Frid, whose character was added in 1967, saved the show and stayed on until the end of its run in 1971. He said Frid was never into the fame and fortune and just wanted to be a working actor. He said he loved the drama and finding the flaws and the humanity in his characters.
    “That’s why he had this vampire that was very multidimensional. It really set the trend for all these other things that have been done with vampires over the last 40, 50 years,” Pierson said. “Vampires were not in the vernacular. In 1967, there wasn’t a pop culture of vampire stuff, so here he was in this mainstream network show that aired at 4 P.M. that really took off. And then he did the movie which was also a big hit.”
    Frid had been an accomplished stage actor before “Dark Shadows” made him famous. The show has lived on in reruns.

    Stuart Manning, editor of the online “Dark Shadows News Page”, said Frid brought a new dimension to the role of the vampire by injecting the role with depth and a sense of regret for his immortal existence.
    “Now that idea has been taken many times since — ‘Twilight’ uses it, shows like ‘True Blood,’ ‘Buffy’ — which again I think shows the influence ‘Dark Shadows’ has had,” said Manning, who worked with Frid as a writer on the 2010 “Dark Shadows” audio drama spinoff, “The Night Whispers.”
    The youngest of three sons, Frid served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. After graduating from Hamilton’s McMaster University, he got a degree in directing at the Yale School of Drama and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.
    Frid starred in various theater productions with illustrious actors including Katharine Hepburn. But it was his turn in “Dark Shadows” and its first feature film adaptation, “House of Dark Shadows,” that made him a commercial success and kept him busy throughout his career with reunions, fan events and dramatic readings.

    He lived in New York for several decades before moving back to Canada in the ‘90s. His other credits include the 1973 TV movie “The Devil’s Daughter,” co-starring Shelley Winters, and Oliver Stone’s directorial debut, “Seizure.” He also starred in the Broadway revival and national tour of “Arsenic and Old Lace” in the ‘80s.

    Pierson said Frid been in declining health in recent months. At Frid’s request, there was no funeral and there will be no memorial.
    “He really was kind of a no-fuss guy,” Pierson said.
    Frid never married. He is survived by a nephew, Donald Frid.
    Jonathan Frid, actor in classic vampire soap opera “Dark Shadows”, dies at 87 - The Washington Post

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    Elite Member Seapharris7's Avatar
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    This is all Tim Burton's fault!!!!
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    I watched this show as a little kid. Loved it. It's been so long, but I remember there was a boy and girl who lived in the house, and they would occasionally be visited by ghosts of a boy and girl that were the same age. And there was a head in some kind of glass case in one of the rooms, while the body that went with it was trapped under a piece of tree outside. I remember somebody moved the tree, and the headless body got up and attacked them. It was like getting to watch a horror movie every day.

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    Elite Member Kathie_Moffett's Avatar
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    I loved "Dark Shadows". Now I really want to watch some old eps again. But I never got to see it much until a few years ago. I was just too a wee bit too young to watch it in its original run.

    I remember in the early 80s I went to a science fiction convention in San Francisco. (I think it was "Timecon"?) I was mostly there for the Star Trek and Doctor Who, lol. But then I wandered into a back room and someone behind me said, "hey, isn't that the vampire guy from "Dark Shadows?" There weren't many people in the room so I felt kind of on the spot. It would have been rude to turn around and walk right out again.

    So I paid a couple of bucks for an 8x10 and Jonathan autographed it. I was kind of gobsmacked at the sight of him, because you see I was like 16--barely--and terribly naive, and he was wearing SO MUCH MAKEUP.

    In retrospect, I really hope my mouth wasn't hanging open or something, even though he wasn't particularly friendly. It's just that I didn't even get why a man would wear foundation and blush and stuff. Happily, I did understand that he appeared to be really fabulously gay, but that, of course, all gay men do not wear makeup for public appearances. I wasn't THAT ignorant.

    RIP, Mr. Frid. Nice fangs.
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    My mother used to watch this show. And I guess you could say it had an impact. She did name one of her kids after a character. They don't call me MrsDark for nothing. When I saw the trailer for this new film I was skeptical, sure they were fucking up a good thing. I'm still not convinced otherwise. But I guess I'd have to see the damned thing to know for sure. I might just do it to catch the cameo with the originals.
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