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Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:03 am

TORONTO (AP) — 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.

By ROB GILLIES | Associated Press – 41 minutes ago

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

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:30 am

Loved him as a kid -- he was THE star of "Dark Shadows," as Barnabas Collins. The program is still seen on cable.

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:34 pm

R.I.P. Jonathan Frid

Jonathan Frid.JPG
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Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:56 pm

Just found out this morning that Jonathan Frid died.
As a kid, i would run home from school each day and tune in to DARK SHADOWS on our local ABC affiliate at 4 pm. Loved this show so much and the character of Barnabas Collins, that when the movie version was released in 1970 (HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS), i stood in line at the local movie theater to see it and tickets sold like crazy (i would call it a frenzy). That theater was a 1200 seat old school movie palace and every seat was sold out at ALL showings. BTW In those days they had double features so the co-feature playing with HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS was Roman Polanski's film FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS.
In 1990, i had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan when he made a few local appearances at colleges. He was performing his one man show. Had my pic taken with him (now enlarged and hanging in my media room), and got his autograph.
One thing i'd like to mention to those fans who never had a chance to meet him. He wasn't like some celebrities who snub their fans.....HE WAS VERY FAN FRIENDLY !
Spoke to him once for 20 minutes and he enjoyed everything i had to say (even tho he had probably heard the same comments i made, from a thousand other fans). He was late getting to dinner after his show but he stayed until he had spoken to every fan, signed every autograph, and posed for every picture the fans wanted. He had finally made peace with the fact that he was known for playing Barnabas Collins and had finally learned to enjoy the attention and wasn't bitter about being known as daytime tv's resident vampire.
Barnabas Collins, a great character played by a great actor.
RIP
JONATHAN FRID

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:39 pm

So sad to hear of his passing, another Icon is gone.I was one of the many who rushed home from school to watch Dark Shadows at 4:00 on weekdays. Still have my Barnabus Collins Dark Shadows game that I've had since 1969. I use to check his website often, but his last post was on Feb.7th. So many well known people leaving us this year. Sad to see the sands of time running out.I will miss you Mr. Frid, sorry I never got a chance to meet you in person. I WILL NOT be seeing the johnny depp remake. The trailer was enough. too many classic shows being remade as a parody. Green Hornet..90210..starsky and hutch...bombs all. Nothing like the originals.

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:32 am

I, too, was one of those kids who ran home from school to catch the show. RIP Jonathan Frid

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:36 pm

elvisbot wrote:Just found out this morning that Jonathan Frid died.
As a kid, i would run home from school each day and tune in to DARK SHADOWS on our local ABC affiliate at 4 pm. Loved this show so much and the character of Barnabas Collins, that when the movie version was released in 1970 (HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS), i stood in line at the local movie theater to see it and tickets sold like crazy (i would call it a frenzy). That theater was a 1200 seat old school movie palace and every seat was sold out at ALL showings. BTW In those days they had double features so the co-feature playing with HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS was Roman Polanski's film FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS.
In 1990, i had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan when he made a few local appearances at colleges. He was performing his one man show. Had my pic taken with him (now enlarged and hanging in my media room), and got his autograph.
One thing i'd like to mention to those fans who never had a chance to meet him. He wasn't like some celebrities who snub their fans.....HE WAS VERY FAN FRIENDLY !
Spoke to him once for 20 minutes and he enjoyed everything i had to say (even tho he had probably heard the same comments i made, from a thousand other fans). He was late getting to dinner after his show but he stayed until he had spoken to every fan, signed every autograph, and posed for every picture the fans wanted. He had finally made peace with the fact that he was known for playing Barnabas Collins and had finally learned to enjoy the attention and wasn't bitter about being known as daytime tv's resident vampire.
Barnabas Collins, a great character played by a great actor.
RIP
JONATHAN FRID



One small thing i forgot to mention:
Years ago, there was a DJ in Philly (???) named Ron Barry. During the 1960's, he was friendly with the DS cast and visited them at the ABC studios often. I made friends with him via several letters and he sent me an original DS tv script (yellowed pages and rusty staple on the script told me it was an original 1960's script but, unfortunately, no actor notations on it. )
The first time i met Jonathan in 1989 or 1990 (can't quite recall the exact year) at Salve Regina College in Newport, RI, i handed the script to him and he autographed the cover. Jonathan flipped through the pages and asked me what episode it was. When i told him it was an episode from the "Adam" storyline, he began to talk about that plot at some length. Unfortunately, i can't recall exactly what he said.
This script and i are inseperable and means even more to me now that Jonathan is no longer with us.

P.S. Anybody know if Ron Barry is still around ?

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:43 am

Ron Barry of WEST Radio, 1400-AM in Easton, PA -- yes, he was well-known for having a connection to "Dark Shadows" back in the day. He interviewed the cast, you can pick up copies on CD here:

barrycd.jpg
barrycds.jpg


http://bobubas.topcities.com/cds_books__video.htm

Is he still around? Don't know.
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Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Feb 21, 2014 4:06 am

Image

Image

He had such empathy. When Jonathan Frid was on the air, he was the best actor in television. No TV star ever dug as deep within himself or aimed as high as Frid. He was the Boris Karloff of television. I've been thinking about him lately, and about Dark Shadows a program that was important to me when I was very young.

I hate what Tim Burton and his syncophants did to Dark Shadows. I despise Burton and I despise his film. The film is backhanded. It trivializes the program and ridicules the original actors. I wouldn't be surprised if Frid's sudden fall and resulting heart failure was not provoked by putting his preview copy in the player and seeing what Burton had done to him.
Last edited by Richard--W on Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:07 am

If you really want to get mad at director Tim Burton, take another look at 1992's "Batman Returns."

Ack.

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:36 pm

BATMAN RETURNS was only a misdemeanor.

Burton's DARK SHADOWS is a felony.

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:20 am

Many a time a young Joe Car came home to watch Dark Shadows. I loved that show and Jonathan's portrayal of Barnabas Collins.

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Sun Feb 23, 2014 3:55 am

I always wished Dan Curtis would do a feature film version of the 1796 flashback, telling the backstory of how Barnabas is cursed by Angelique and becomes a vampire. I wanted a full-throttle bodice ripper and period, Colonial Gothic. I wrote to him about it when I was kid in the early 1970s. Thirty-odd years later I got to speak to him about it once. Actually he did most of the talking. He made it clear my idea was not in the cards. He'd been having a difficult time getting his productions mounted because MGM and the networks had their own ideas about how Dark Shadows should be done. They wanted the franchise, but they did not want Dan Curtis involved. He had given in to them once before and was disgusted with the result, an hour-long reboot that bore his name and got everything wrong. It also failed to make money which had never happened to Curtis before. His shows had always made money. This is the project he refers to in the interview supplement on The Night Stalker DVD. So they strung him along for years until he caved in or died, which ever happened first. He died. Then his estate made a deal with that closet queen Depp and his financing entity. The result is what you see in the Tim Burton film. That's what they wanted, another backhanded, trivializing, ridiculing fetish "comedy" exactly like all of Burton's other backhanded, trivializing, ridiculing fetish "comedies."

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:27 am

Richard--W wrote:I always wished Dan Curtis would do a feature film version of the 1796 flashback, telling the backstory of how Barnabas is cursed by Angelique and becomes a vampire. I wanted a full-throttle bodice ripper and period, Colonial Gothic. I wrote to him about it when I was kid in the early 1970s. Thirty-odd years later I got to speak to him about it once. Actually he did most of the talking. He made it clear my idea was not in the cards. He'd been having a difficult time getting his productions mounted because MGM and the networks had their own ideas about how Dark Shadows should be done. They wanted the franchise, but they did not want Dan Curtis involved. He had given in to them once before and was disgusted with the result, an hour-long reboot that bore his name and got everything wrong. It also failed to make money which had never happened to Curtis before. His shows had always made money. This is the project he refers to in the interview supplement on The Night Stalker DVD. So they strung him along for years until he caved in or died, which ever happened first. He died. Then his estate made a deal with that closet queen Depp and his financing entity. The result is what you see in the Tim Burton film. That's what they wanted, another backhanded, trivializing, ridiculing fetish "comedy" exactly like all of Burton's other backhanded, trivializing, ridiculing fetish "comedies."


You really diminish the impact of your words by making such cracks.

The sad thing is, had Elvis lived long enough, perhaps he could have improved the 2012 film version of "Dark Shadows."


Elvis Collins.jpg
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Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:54 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:You really diminish the impact of your words by making such cracks.



No, I don't.

To paraphrase Gilbert & Sullivan, I despise Johnny Depp with a loathing that borders on absolute detestation. He's a shitty actor. He plays every part the same way, as in cute. He plays every part cute. I'm not referring to his looks, but to his emotional expression. He has one dimension: cute. He piles on the plumage and turns on the cute. How does anyone stand him?

Dark Shadows fell into the wrong hands. Big money talks. Depp has control of The Night Stalker now, too, and there's no doubt in my mind he'll destroy that franchise as well.

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:00 pm

Richard--W wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:You really diminish the impact of your words by making such cracks.



No, I don't.

To paraphrase Gilbert & Sullivan, I despise Johnny Depp with a loathing that borders on absolute detestation. He's a shitty actor. He plays every part the same way, as in cute. He plays every part cute. I'm not referring to his looks, but to his emotional expression. He has one dimension: cute. He piles on the plumage and turns on the cute. How does anyone stand him?

Dark Shadows fell into the wrong hands. Big money talks. Depp has control of The Night Stalker now, too, and there's no doubt in my mind he'll destroy that franchise as well.


If you think that reply redeems homophobic cracks like "closet queen Depp" you are seriously out to lunch.

You are so wrapped up in anger you couldn't even take a second to appreciate the lighthearted intent of my previous post, with a very amusing Elvis image. Instead, you just pulled out my one, spot-on comment.

Do you need a hug?

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:25 am

That wasn't a homophobic remark. You think so because you don't know any better.

I did not appreciate your visual joke at Elvis' and Frid's expense.

I hope this helps.

Re: Jonathan Frid, actor in "Dark Shadows", dies at 87

Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:48 am

Richard--W wrote:That wasn't a homophobic remark. You think so because you don't know any better.


:shock:

What planet are you from? It must be lonely there, given your behavior here.

You clearly need a hug.