Remembering DARK SHADOWS' Jonathan Frid, 1924 - 2012

PrintE-mail Written by Whitney Scott Bain


Jonathon Frid, who portrayed the iconic, tortured soul that was vampire Barnabas Collins in the legendary ’60s gothic television series Dark Shadows, recently passed away of natural causes at the age of ‘87.

Born in Canada, Mr. Frid served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. After the war ended, he studied drama at McMasters University and continued his education receiving a degree in directing at Yale University.

Leaving America, he studied at the prestigious Royal Academy of Drama in London where he later focused his acting talents in stage plays around town including working with the late Katherine Hepburn.

But, it was his performance as Barnabas Collins in the TV series and the feature film, House of Dark Shadows that brought him worldwide fame.

When asked what drew him to the role when producer Dan Curtis offered it him, he described Barnabas as being very multidimensional. A man who was human at one time, but was now cursed with a flawed soul. He had depth combined with regret. That's what made him interesting.

In 1969, the Dark Shadows series at its peak drew over twenty million viewers, which was a record for the time.

After the end of Dark Shadows' run, Mr. Frid appeared in two movies; the Devil's Daughter with Shelly Winters and Oliver Stone's first feature film, Seizure, alongside Hammer film actress and Bond girl Martine Beswick and the late Herve Villechaize.

Mr. Frid's final performance can be seen in the new Tim Burton directed Dark Shadows feature where he plays a party guest and meets Barnabas Collins, now portrayed by Johnny Depp.

In the summer of 2010, in Hollywood at the Vista Theater, a special, 35mm film screening was shown of House of Dark Shadows with Mr. Frid in attendance. It was here a gala ceremony took place with the aid of the Dark Shadows convention fans, where Mr. Frid placed his handprints in cement and signed his name in front of the theater.

A true gentleman. An iconic character. A childhood hero.

We will miss him.

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