Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jonathan Frid, 1924 – 2012

(December 2, 1924 – April 14, 2012)

 Fans could forgive Jonathan Frid anything.

His relationship with Dark Shadows was ambiguous from the very beginning, and the reason we're still talking about the show today is because of a desperate attempt by one actor to find something he could associate with in a character he found uninteresting. Vampires did not appeal to him as a child, he's said on numerous occasions, and they most definitely did not appeal to him as an adult.

Now, if it was a character that just happened to be a vampire, that would be another story. And if the second life of Dark Shadows that Frid helped to create could be summarized succinctly, it would be "Other Stories."

It probably didn't help Frid's outlook on Barnabas Collins that he found the character while in his mid '40s. The vampire was around for only a small part of his life, but seemed to be in danger of constantly eclipsing it. He returned to the vampire only once in the 40 years after the cancellation of Dark Shadows and was well past bored of discussing a job that ended when the Vietnam conflict was still in full swing.

As I said at the start, though, fans could forgive Frid anything ... because he was honest about his feelings. He didn't lead us on like Jerry Lewis, only to drop the mask occasionally to yell at us. He was cantankerous, hilariously so sometimes, and seemed to be comfortable with it. In her book Return to Collinwood, Kathryn Leigh Scott describes a man whose ego no longer demanded the spotlight. He was more interested in a good meal and the comforts of home than in a planned cameo in the big-budget Dark Shadows movie. The vampire was no longer his problem.

This morning, I awoke to reports from Scott's website that Jonathan Frid has passed away.

Like most of us, I only knew Frid through Dark Shadows. Which is to say I didn't know him at all, though I was increasingly fascinated in learning more about his work on the stage. Since starting this blog, I've frequently thought about asking him for an interview, not to talk about the vampire, but about that mysterious relationship that actors have with the plays of William Shakespeare. The idea was never more than a musing, though, because it seemed rude to interrupt a man in his retirement to force him into an unwanted conversation. Frid didn't owe me anything and would not have been shy about saying so.

Now that Jonathan Frid has left us, that fanciful conversation will only exist in my mind. In coming years, I think we'll all have reason to continue talking about Jonathan Frid. Even if he didn't like the vampire as much as we did, I hope you'll spare a kind thought for him and his family today.

- Wallace (Cousin Barnabas)

Here's an update on the passing of Jonathan Frid, via The Weary Professor:

Jonathan Frid  
December 2, 1924 - April 13, 2012 
Donald Frid, Jonathan's nephew, who assisted Jonathan at many of the recent Festivals, has informed us that Jonathan passed away at the age of 87 on April 13, 2012, in Hamilton, Ontario. His health had been declining in recent weeks and he died peacefully in his sleep in a local hospital. At Jonathan's request, there was no funeral and there will be no memorial service. Donations in the memory of Jonathan Frid may be made to Hillfield-Strathallen College, the school where he got his first taste of acting, or a charity of your choice.

Donald and the other members of the Frid family are grateful for all the support and appreciation Jonathan received from the Dark Shadows community over these many years. At a gathering of family and friends on April 18, the family remarked on John's passing on Friday, April the 13th, and the fact that they were remembering him on April 18, the 45th anniversary of the broadcast of his first appearance at the door of Collinwood.

Above is rare video of Jonathan Frid taken on his 
famous publicity tour for Dark Shadows in the late 1960s.


Christopher Dobsch said...

This news really bums me out. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Frid at a DS Con in Dallas, Texas in the mid 80's and he was very kind and was very gracious to me. I had caught him outside of a conference room where they had just shown House Of Dark Shadows. He was outside the room over in a corner by himself. I was nervouse at first about approaching him, I'm glad I did. I walked up and introduced my self and he asked me to have a seat next to him and we chatted for about 15-20 minutes, one on one, until the crowd started coming out of the room. I had my Barnabas cane with me, at that time they weren't so readily available to purchase. My dad ordered it from a company in the U.K., I believe, as a birthday present. Anyway, he asked if he could see it and did confirm it was exactly like his. My only regret is I never had a pic taken with him. I did snap a few pics from the side while he was signing for other fans. I do have 2 pics he signed for me at the show and they have always been in frames and have hung in a prominent spot on my office wall ever since. It is truly a sad day for Dark Shadows fans...

Erica said...

I logged onto Twitter this morning, saw the news and burst into tears.

Thank you for this blog and for your insights, and the wealth of information you share with us.

I was just a couple of feet away from him at the 2010 Dark Shadows convention as he walked down the hall. Everyone stopped what they were doing to clap and cheer. He waved us off. Made jokes about how ironic it was that he was now actually using the famous Barnabas cane to help him walk.

What a strange phenomenon it is, weeping for our icons, even though we didn't know them personally. I wept for John Lennon, and now I weep for Jonathan Frid. Rest in peace, Sir.

quietdreams said...

I always liked thinking about him still with us. I knew he was getting up in years ..and was happy thinking of him still alive and doing everyday things somewhere. it's a sad time ...but I will always feel that he's still there.

Anonymous said...

RIP Jonathan. I grew up watching you on Dark Shadows. There will never be another Barnabas Collins for me. God Bless you Mr. Frid. Go in peace. You will be missed. :(

Anonymous said...

Poor jonathan. Im only 13 and my life is all about dark shadows. He is badly missed by all I bet. R.I.P JONATHAN FRID <3

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...