In 1966, Dark Shadows debuted on ABC-TV as a daily Gothic suspense series. Airing in the late afternoon, the show attracted a massive youth audience as it shifted to the supernatural with the introduction of vulnerable vampire Barnabas Collins. Witches, ghosts and scary story lines turned Dark Shadows into a TV classic that led to motion pictures, remakes, reunions and legions of devoted fans.
The 50+ tear old series maintains a cult following to this day, and is available on DVD. The show also employed numerous gay actor many in lead roles including Barnabas Collins played by Johnathan Frid.
The documentary will be available across digital platforms and on DVD April 16.
My name is Victoria Winters. My journey is beginning, a journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me, and link my past with my future, a journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea high above widow’s hill, a house called Collinwood, a world I’ve never known, with people I’ve never met, people who tonight are still only shadows in my mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of my tomorrows.
Long before American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries. Dark Shadows, a gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971 and has become one of the Top 25 Cult TV series in history.
The series which had a rocky start and was facing cancellation but became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared ten months into its run. Dark Shadows also featured ghosts, werewolves, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles; as actors came and went, some characters were played by more than one actor.
Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable storylines, numerous dramatic plot twists, unusually adventurous music score, and broad and epic cosmos of characters and heroic adventures.
Although the original series ran for only five years, its scheduling as a daily daytime drama allowed it to amass more single episodes during its run (1,225) than most other science-fiction/fantasy genre series including Doctor Who and the entire Star Trek television franchise.
Dark Shadows also has the distinction of being one of the few classic television soap operas to have all of its episodes survive intact except one, although a handful of early episodes are available only in 16 mm kinescope format. Dark Shadows was filmed LIVE daily.
For a blast to the past all episodes are currently available on Hulu and many on YouTube.
Veteran actress Joan Bennett and Louis Edmonds are the only actors to appear in both the first and the last episodes of the series.
For more than a year and a half the characters of “Dark Shadows” used almost every possible phrase to refer to Barnabas Collins (“He’s not alive!” “He’s one of the undead.” “He walks at night but he ain’t alive.”) It wasn’t until the 410th episode that the word “vampire” was actually used on the show.
Bert Convy was considered for the role of Barnabas Collins. (Oy!)
Charlie’s Angel Jaclyn Smith, was offered the role of Victoria Winters when Alexandra Isles exited the show, but she declined. Kate Jackson would later join the cast in a separate role.
The series was ABC’s first soap opera to appear in color, beginning with the August 14, 1967 telecast. Many shows which transitioned to color endured radical set overhauls, but following some screen testing the crew discovered they didn’t have to change a thing.
At least 11 Dark Shadows Actors were gay. Including: Jonathan Frid, Humbert Allen Astredo, Don Briscoe, Christopher Bernau, Joel Crothers, Louis Edmonds, Anthony George, Gene Lindsey, Keith Prentice, Craig Slocum, and Brian Sturdivant
Jonathan Frid, best known for playing Barnabas Collins in the 1960s original vampire soap opera “Dark Shadows”, has died of natural causes in a hospital in his home town of Hamilton, Ontario.
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.
At the height of his career twenty million people watch him perform his perform his love lorn vampire Barnabas Collins on the the show at its peak in 1969. His character was added to the faling soap opera in in 1967, a last ditch effort to save the show whosfrom cancellation, which it did and Frid stayed on until the end of its run in 1971
Frid who was gay, never married and is survived by a nephew, Donald Frid.
At Frid’s request, there will be no funeral and there and no memorial dervice
From left to right: Helena Bonham Carter (Dr Julia Hoffman, the psychiatrist…who also needs one), Chloe Moretz (Carolyn, a moody teen), Eva Green (Angelique, a witch who hates this family with a long history with Barnabas the vampire), Gulliver McGrath (David, a troubled boy who believes he sees the dead), Bella Heathcote (Victoria, the new governess), Depp (Barnabas the vampire… ancestor of this family), Ray Shirley (Mrs Johnson, the ancient maid), Jackie Earle Haley (Willie the shady groundskeeper), Jonny Lee Miller (Roger, David’s father), and Michelle Pfeiffer (Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the steely matriarch under seige by witches, family troubles, and the arrival of Barnabas).
My name is Victoria Winters……… Please dear God please don’t let this movie suck too badly.
Firty-five years before True Blood, the original vampire love story, the 1960s gothic soap opera on NBC ran for almost 5 years and had millions of fans and now all this time later DARK SHADOWS is immortalized in a series of 8″ “Mego-style” action figures
Featuring: BARNABAS COLLINS: Star of the series, featuring a detailed costume and his classic wolf’s head walking stick, JOSETE DUPREE: Full-time witch and bitch obsessed with Barnabas, and CHRIS JENNINGS: In his werewolf incarnation!
Dark Shadows Trivia:Alexandra Motlke (Who played innocent Governess Victoria Winters) later became Claus Von Bulow’s mistress and was supenoned and testified in front of a hushed courtroom the details of her affair with Von Bulow. She had pressed him to leave his wife, she testified, and soon after, Sunni Von Bulow was in a coma, possibly the result of an insulin injection