April 23rd, 2012 by faye
Jonathan Frid, best known for his role as vampire Barnabas Collins on the gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows,” passed away at the age of 87.
According to Jim Pierson, a friend and spokesman for Dan Curtis Productions, Frid died of natural causes on Friday in a hospital in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario.
Jonathan Frid starred in the 1960s gothic-flavored soap opera “Dark Shadows” which was about odd, supernatural goings-on at a family estate in Maine.
The death of the actor came just weeks before a Tim Burton-directed version of “Dark Shadows” is due out next month starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. Jonathan Frid has a cameo role in the new movie, where he meets Depp’s character in a party scene with two other actors from the original show.
Jim Pierson said that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were fans of Jonathan 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 added that Frid, whose character was added in 1967, saved “Dark Shadows” and stayed on until the end of its run in 1971. He said Jonathan Frid was never into the fame and fortune and just wanted to be a working actor, adding that Frid 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.”
Jonathan Frid had been an accomplished stage actor even before “Dark Shadows” made him famous. The show has since lived on in reruns.
Stuart Manning, editor of the online “Dark Shadows News Page”, said Jonathan Frid brought a new light to the role of the vampire by playing 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 Jonathan Frid as a writer on the 2010 “Dark Shadows” audio drama spinoff, “The Night Whispers.”
Jim Pierson said Frid had been in poor 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 added.
Jonathan Frid never married. He is survived by a nephew, Donald Frid.