According to Digital Spy, Canadian actor Jonathan Frid, who originated the role of vampire Barnabas Collins on the daytime soap opera Dark Shadows (a role Johnny Depp plays in the new Tim Burton film) has passed away at the age of 87. Says Digital Spy, “The 87-year-old actor reportedly died of natural causes at Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario…. Frid also starred in 1973 television movie The Devil’s Daughter and 1974 film horror Seizure. He filmed a cameo appearance – his final acting credit – in Tim Burton’s forthcoming film remake of Dark Shadows, which stars Johnny Depp as Barnabas.”
On a personal note, as a child in the 1960s, Jonathan’s portrayal of Barnabas really struck a chord with me and inspired my imagination in such a way that it ultimately led me down the path to writing. Just as importantly, in the 1980s I interviewed Jonathan in his New York apartment, and for a time was visiting him each Sunday to go through his archives to gather information on a book I was researching, and to reflect with him about those days. It was certainly surreal to know that one Sunday Jonathan Frid would be buying me breakfast or lunch, and on another Sunday I would return the favor. Perhaps the greatest compliment I got from him was when I wrote my first profile on him and presented it to him when it came out in print. I read it over and commented, “It feels as though you truly got to know me…. I’m a little uncomfortable that you got to know me so well.”
Here’s an excerpt from that interview, regarding his portrayal of Barnabas, which I always found interesting: Jonathan Frid was never a fan of the fang aspect of Barnabas Collins and, in an interview with ye editor, admitted that he felt foolish doing that part of the show. The thing that did appeal to him, however, was the “lie” that served as the foundation of the character in (then) present day Collinwood. “It was Barnabas’ lie, that he was pretending to be something that he wasn’t, which motivated me more than any other aspect of the role. That pretense was something the actor playing Barnabas had to remember all the time. He got the lust for blood every once in a while, but always what preyed on his mind was the lie. And of course it played right into my lie as an actor. I was lying that I was calm and comfortable in the studio, just as Barnabas was lying that he was the calm, comfortable cousin from England. He wasn’t at all. He was a sick, unbelievable creep that the world didn’t know about.”
Please share your memories of Jonathan below.
Here’s a tribute in photos to Jonathan Frid:
And now a classic Barnabas scene: