WolfieToons by Dave Wolfe

WolfieToons by Dave Wolfe

Thursday, April 19, 2012

(Off Topic) Mr. Frid

This entry will be for my friends, like Erica Scott, who share my passion for "Dark Shadows," the good-n-spooky show that ABC began running in the afternoons the summer I was ten.  Schedules at various schools made me miss a lot of episodes during its run in those pre-VCR days, but I was there every time I was able, and was a huge fan of Johnathan Frid, AKA Barnabas Collins.  

I even tried to do a "Frid-esque" vampire one Halloween, spikey bangs and all.  My fangs were fashioned from pottery clay, and the sticky stuff I used to try to glue them over my real canines kept coming loose.   

They put out a record album of the "Dark Shadows" background music, the wonderful stuff by Robert Cobert, and my best friend in junior high, Bill and I employed it in innumerable tape recorder skits, dramatic and comedic and juvenile.  But then, we were juveniles.  The years took their toll, and the vinyl was gone, but then it was reissued on CD, along with two bonus tracks of radio interviews with the cast done at the height of "Dark Shadows" popularity.  I have that now, and, in fact, was just playing it in the car the other day!  (You can get a copy, too, like Erica did after I told her about it, HERE!)

Some years back, the SciFi Channel (which has since altered its name, I think) ran all the episodes of "Dark Shadows" from beginning to end, in chronological order, two per day, so I caught up on the ones I missed.  During the run of the show, about five years, there were some goofy gaffes, to be sure, because they were doing a very complicated show very quickly and without enough dough, and once in a while the scripts meandered in a lost sort of way, but mainly they had remarkably involving stories with a wonderful cast and some particularly chilling, scary moments that hold up even in my jaded age. 

Mr. Frid passed last week, Friday the 13th, at the age of 87.  The Los Angeles Times has a very nice article, which includes a link to co-star Kathryn Leigh Scott's tribute, HERE.

(That's a recent "Dark Shadows" cast reunion picture.) 

I would have loved to have been able to hear the readings from Poe and Shakespeare that Johnathan Frid performed in the last decade or two, or to have seen his performance as Johnathan Brewster in "Arsenic and Old Lace."

Friends, by definition, share a passionate interest in something, but don't have to agree about all its aspects.  Erica won't agree with me about the worth of the new Tim Burton movie out next month (she feels it does a disservice to the original, to put it mildly) but I plan to see it, and will especially be watching for the party-scene cameos by the original cast, and Mr. Frid in particular.  

I suppose more people are rocked by the loss of Dick Clark yesterday, but there are already some splendid tributes up for him, including Erica's.  I saw "American Bandstand" frequently on Saturdays, and the "Bloopers" shows and more, but my connection there was different.  I never tried to be Dick Clark on Halloween. 

(Addition Saturday, April 21:  Co-star David Selby-- AKA Quentin Collins-- has shared a beautiful note to his friend HERE..)


  1. Ah, Wolfie, I love you. This is beautiful; thank you.

    It's good to know there are others out there who are feeling like I do today. I read the news 3 1/2 hours ago and have been crying ever since. I have a major headache.

    You and I will lovingly agree to disagree about the movie. I had my own choice comments to make about it on my own tribute blog today. Would you expect any less from me? :-)

    Sad day for Dark Shadows fans.

  2. It is indeed, Erica. No matter how long you half-dread this sort of sad inevitability the day itself is very hard top get through.

    And I love you, too, and always all your choice comments!

  3. Mr. Frid and Mr. Clark will be missed. Now I have both their theme songs playing in my head. *SIGH*

    1. Me, too, Bree! Odd combination, isn't it? And yet it brings up lots of memories.

  4. Dark Shadows was before my time so I've never seen it, but my aunt is a huge fan and has a wall full of VHS tapes of every episode. Very nice tribute.

  5. Thank you, Lea!

    Yep, before "Twilight," before "Buffy," before "Lestat," etc., etc., there was "Dark Shadows," and 20 million of us loved it.

    (And, of course, DS itself "borrowed" very heavily from every possible Gothic classic of literature and film!)

  6. I caught a notice of Mr. Frid's passing in an issue of TV Guide. At one time, I had a collection of all the Dark Shadows paperbacks - which I donated to the local Rotary club's book drive. I plan to see the Tim Burton film too. I would come home from school (teaching) to see Dark Shadows on TV.

    1. Charlie, that is absolutely brilliant! The best take on that line I've ever read!

  7. Count me in as a Dark Shadows fan and one who was sorry to hear of Johnathan Frid's passing. I used to schedule all of my college classes for before noon so I could make it home in time to catch "Dark Shadows" in the afternoon.

    One time--also during college, so the show was still on the air--a friend of mine and I learned that Johnathan Frid was in Minneapolis (I don't remember why)and the downtown hotel he was staying at. We went there and staked out the lobby. Just as we were wondering how to proceed, the elevator door opened and out walked Johnathan Frid with twovisitors. They stood and talked in the lobby for a few moments, be bade them a warm farewell, and then headed back to the elevator. Both my friend and I were suddenly too starstruck and shy to do or say anything. But at least I can say I saw Barnabas Collins during the daytime. :-)

    1. And a rare thing that is, Doc! Thanks for the great story! Don't feel bad about being "shy and starstruck," I've heard stories of that happening to people who live and work in Hollywood when they see one of their favorites out and about!

      For the record, I enjoyed Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows," with two caveats.

      Some reviews have said the story was incomprehensible, but they must've been distracted somehow. I had no problem at all with the narrative, nor did my family members who went with me. The problem was voiced by my nephew, who said, "It wasn't as funny as I thought it was going to be from the previews!"

      And that was it: Tim and Company didn't seem completely settled on a tone; it wasn't an all-out comedy with fun creepiness like "Beetlejuice," nor was it completely a chiller with comedic overtones like, say, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" that Vincent Price did in the 70s.

      I also thought the original stars were wasted in their "cameos." They could have been give a clever line or two in the party scene, such as, "I like what you've done with the OLD HOUSE," or "That is a splendid cane, Mr. Collins," or some such.

      However, Burton and his folks told a slightly different "Dark Shadows" story than had been done three times before, the performances were wonderful, Elfman's score was fine, with a lot of Bob Cobert's original music cues included, and the look of the thing was beautiful, with lots of visual tributes to the original series.

      I had a good time and gave it a "B."