Right on the heels of yesterday’s death of icon Dick Clark, another death in the entertainment world has darkened our door. Jonathan Frid, who staked his claim on the supernatural and gothic ABC television serial Dark Shadows, has passed away from natural causes at Juravinski Hospital in his native hometown of Hamilton, Ontario in Canada, according to Digital Spy. He was 87 years old.
Born on December 2, 1924, Frid served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. A few years later, he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing at Yale University. Classically trained, he spent 30 years in theater as well.
The actor found success in his career, however, when he appeared as the vampire Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows between 1966 and 1971, and was a cult hero to thousands of teenage kids, who made the program a hit.
After the show’s run, Frid’s career took a slow turn, he appeared in a 1973 TV movie with Shelly Winters called The Devil’s Daughter and in 1974, appeared in director Oliver Stone’s debut film, Seizure. A few years later he appeared in various theater productions.
A tip of the cap in memoriam to Jonathan Frid today, as television and the entertainment world loses yet another seminal figure in its pop cultured history.
The behind the scenes story of the original Dark Shadows series is where my real fascination with the show lies. The crazed production, the eclectic ensemble cast, the enduring legacy - it's some serious "stranger than fiction" stuff, and I've spent a lot of time listening to both cast and crew tell the tale. But no one embodied the unlikely phenomenon of Dark Shadows more than Jonathan Frid. A 42-year-old stage actor with little experience on television, he was hired for a short stint on the struggling soap just before a planned move out west. As Mr. Frid told it, he very nearly didn't pick up the phone when the show called to cast him; he was outside his door with the bag packed and went back in at the last minute to answer. The actor's plans - and the second half of his life - were forever changed by the call.