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The Spooking Of Daytime Soap Operas While Dan Curtis created Dark Shadows as an afternoon soap opera with the odd gothic horror vampire twist, it was none other than Dick Clark who first introduced afternoon spook dramas in 1964 on ABC's After School Specials in the time slot now occupied by Oprah. Clark's shows of pretty teen queens and creatures a la Beauty & The Beast were fair, not great, ratings getters before his powerhouse American Bandstand.

Like the original Star Trek, Curtis' Dark Shadows met with only mild interest and was cancelled after three seasons. Also like Trek, the show became clamored for only after the cancellation. ABC buried Vampire Barnabas Collins in the fall of 1968 and the inhabitor of Collins' personna, Jonathan Frid, could unearth no new successes. O the rue of being a 175 year old vampire buried 200 years in a coffin before seeking new blood.

Amidst The Edge Of Night. Guiding Light, One Life To Live melancholy yarn, Dark Shadows still stands as network television's only horror soap opera. It was replaced by on ABC by General Hospital, a different genre of blood collecting, except the replacement is still alive and running...for now.

About Jonathan Frid Born 1921 (some records state 1923), Canadian actor Jonathan Frid received his master's degree in drama from Yale University. Frid spent the first 20 years of his professional life as a Shakespearean actor in both Ontario and the United States, and as a daytime-drama performer on such American series as Look Up and Live and As the World Turns. Work was seldom steady, and Frid was often as not in the unemployment line instead of the dressing room. Going the casting office rounds in 1966, Frid was hired by producer Dan Curtis to play a crucial role in a new ABC soap opera, Dark Shadows. At first glance, this was nothing out of the ordinary for a fortyish utility actor; but at second glance, there was nothing ordinary about Dark Shadows. The first Gothic daytime drama, Dark Shadows was chock full of ghosts, family curses, howls in the night-- and one 175-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins. Frid's interpretation of Barnabas leaned more toward the erotic than the horrific, and before long the actor was receiving 1500 fan letters a week (mostly from young ladies who expressed a desire to have their necks bitten) and was the somewhat dazed object of numerous fan clubs.

Striking while the iron was hot, Frid became a fixture of the talk-show circuit, reciting poetry and Shakespeare at the slightest provocation. The actor extended his Barnabas Collins characterization into a 1970 feature film, House of Dark Shadows. Frid was rather tired of the character before the daytime serial ended in 1971, but found that Barnabas had so effectively typed him that he was virtually unable to find any non-supernatural roles. Jonathan Frid hasn't been heard from much in recent years. (Ben Cross played Barnabas Collins in the short-lived 1991 primetime revival of Dark Shadows), but the faithful haven't forgotten him, as witness the many "official" Barnabas Collins Fan Clubs still dotting the landscape in the early '90s.

Jonathan Frid's stage career began almost sixty years ago when he first offered his soul to the theatre at a prep school in his native Hamilton, Ontario, Canada - playing Sir Anthony Absolute in Sheridan's brilliant Post- Restoration comedy The Rivals. It was an experience which transformed the shy teenager. In the years that followed, Frid went on to play characters who were typically much older than himself. They were often authoritarian or downright villainous as well ... characteristics which Frid stubbornly questioned at every turn. #1

As John Frid, he joined the local Hamilton Players Guild and attended McMaster University where he learned, through practice and professional tutelage, the basics of acting.

Late World War II Navy Service - 1944 - 1945 Frid served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II and later returned to McMaster University, where he headed the drama society, graduating in 1948. McMaster University Graduate in Liberal Arts, 1948 in Liberal Arts, 1948

In January 1949, Frid was accepted at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England. He subsequently found work with British repertory companies and appeared in a touring production of a West End thriller The Third Visitor. Two years later, Frid returned to Canada where he continued working in repertory companies, including the Earl Grey Players in Toronto, where at the same time he also studied at Lorne Greene's Academy of Radio Arts.

It was at this point where Frid played one of the most satisfying roles of his career… the evil Dr. Sloper in The Heiress. (check footnote #1) For a young actor in his twenties, it was a great challenge defining the complex nature of an aging father. At one extreme a reasonable and civilized man, highly respected in the community, at the other, a father devasted by his wife's death during the birth of their only child and subsequently possessed with a stubborn refusal to acknowledge anything good at all about his only daughter, a very sensitive young woman and the only heir to his fortune. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, CBC-TV, Toronto During that period, Frid appeared on some of the renowned radio dramas of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and on some of the CBC's early experiments in television drama, pictured here in a series based on Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.

Two pictures from directorial graduation assignment, 'Solidarity Forever' an original play by a Yale drama student. 1957 Frid moved to the United States in 1954, where he enrolled in the Yale School of Drama, earning a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Directing in 1957. Although Frid was a directing student, he appeared in many plays at the famed school - on the strength of his experience as a professional actor. Williamstown Theatre Foundation's first production ever, 'Time of The Cukoo' (Senor Di Rossi) 1955 Directing got left behind, or rather put off, as Frid quickly found work in some of America's most celebrated regional theatres including the Williamstown Theater Foundation in Massachusetts, where he was the leading man in their inaugural season (1955). The 'Rainmaker' later that season at Williamstown. The American Shakespeare Festival, Stratford, CT. 'Much Ado About Nothing'(The role of the Sexton) Summer, 1957

The following summer he worked at the American Shakespearean Festival in Connecticut, where he performed with Katharine Hepburn in The Merchant of Venice and in Much Ado About Nothing... a production that went on a national tour of the United States in the winter and spring of 1958. Though frequently cast as the "heavy", Frid nonetheless "broke type" many times to play a wide range of roles, such as: Starbuck in The Rainmaker, O'Bannion in Auntie Mame, Mr. Antrobus in The Skin of Our Teeth and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, roles that showed Frid's natural flair for comedy. Pitsburg, PA. 1963, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew. However, there were his more serious roles, such as Dr. Sloper in The Heiress, Orlando in As You Like It, Caliban in The Tempest, Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet and the title role in The Tragedy of Macbeth. In addition Frid made several television appearances during the 1950's and 1960's and had brief stints on Broadway. In 1962, John took the stage name Jonathan Frid.

In the summer of 1966 at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, CA, Frid took on the roles of Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Caliban in the Tempest and the Duke of Milan in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Penn State University Summer Festival in 1965 playing the title role of King Richard the III. Frid wanted to use his stage experience and training to become a drama professor; he enjoyed visiting schools as a performer and working with students. He was an actor-in-residence at the State College of Penn State University's professional summer theatre in 1965, where he played the title role in The Tragedy of King Richard III. Barnabas Collins on ABC's Dark Shadows. 1967 to 1971.

Still searching for a teaching opportunity, Frid had just returned to New York from a year-long tour with Ray Milland in Hostile Witness when he was hired to play the role of Barnabas Collins on ABC-TV’s drama series Dark Shadows in 1967 #2. The role was supposed to last for only a few weeks. For Frid, it represented some extra income before he headed to California for a teaching job. But, once he was onboard, Dark Shadows became a phenomenal hit. It ran for four more years with Frid, and Joan Bennett, as its stars. Frid's sensitive portrayal of the complex, conflicted vampire earned him a place as an icon of American popular culture. The show is still on the air, in syndication #3. Barnabas Collins on ABC's Dark Shadows. 1967 - 1971

During the run of Dark Shadows, Frid appeared in regional theatre productions of Dial M For Murder and Wait Until Dark. Frid also starred in the motion picture, House of Dark Shadows in 1970. Based on the television series, the film was a major box office hit for then ailing MGM.

In 1972, Frid co-starred in ABC's television movie-of-the-week, The Devil's Daughter, with Shelley Winters, Joseph Cotton and Belinda Montgomery. In 1974, he played the lead in Oliver Stone's stylish directorial debut, the motion picture Seizure.

High visibility did not give Frid the same variety of work he had enjoyed prior to his fame. For some years, he left the business to pursue other interests, to travel (a year in Mexico), and to simply enjoy his privacy once more. However, Frid's compulsion to act was strong and he accepted a return engagement at Penn State University for an anniversary production of The Royal Family of Broadway (a not too subtle spin on the Barrymore family) as Anthony Cavendish. In the 1980's, when Frid was appearing at Dark Shadows conventions across the United States, he began reading poetry, short stories, and scenes from plays for his fans, who responded enthusiastically. Frid enjoyed this new format for acting so much that he formed his own production company, "Clunes Associates," with a business partner, Mary O'Leary, in 1986, to develop and perform three touring readers' theatre productions. They became known as: "Jonathan Frid's Fools and Fiends," "Jonathan Frid's Fridiculousness," and "Jonathan Frid's Shakespearean Odyssey." These programs were ideally suited to smaller audiences and to intimate venues. Frid toured regional drama centres, colleges, and universities to the four corners of the United States from 1988 to 1994.

Frid moved back to Canada in 1994. Ostensibly retiring from public life, Frid remained active "on the boards" in small ways to preserve his sanity. He created special short programs derived from his established one-man shows for such diverse gatherings as the McMaster Alumni Association, the United Empire Loyalists of Canada, and private dinner parties - all with a view to raising money for a variety of charities. In the process, Frid created a new production company called "Charity Associates." In April 1998, Frid was inducted into the McMaster University Alumni Gallery Hall of Fame for his continued devotion to the art of acting. In September of the same year, Frid gave a lecture on acting at the prestigious Hamilton Association for the Advancement of Literature, Science, and Art. He did make another return to the United States for stage appearances, returning to his native Canada where he still performs theatrically.


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