Saturday, May 26, 2012

Barnabas Collins TV's Champ in Marketplace, 1968 newspaper feature

It's possible this story has already appeared on this site in one form or another (those are the pitfalls of using wire news, which tend to appear in numerous publications simultaneously.) If that's the case, this is the first time the story has been typseset, which should make it a little easier to read.

This piece concerns the rising Dark Shadows fad (I'm trying to rotate the word "phenomenon" out of usage on this site) in mid-1968, and mentions many of the George Lucas-ian products created for the series. I'm not sure where this publication circulated, but it was in a location where Dark Shadows was still airing at 3 p.m. 


Sucker for Vampire …
Barnabas Collins TV's Champ in Marketplace
JULY 28, 1968
HOLLYWOOD, Calif., --Television's heroes have often been champions in the marketplace as well. Batman inspired costumes and utility belts; Batmobiles and Batplanes. The Green Hornet sired Black Beauty cars and Green Hornet rings. But the hottest hero in daytime television today—one Barnabas Collins, the 175-year-old love-struck vampire on ABC-TV's "Dark Shadows," is taking over the championship.

Paperback Library has a new novel, starring Barnabas, on the presses right now — the sixth "Dark Shadows" book to be published by the company thus far. The Barnabas Vampire Joke Book is also being planned by Paperback Library.
Ben Cooper, Inc., the largest manufacturer of masquerade costumes in the nation, has licensed a line of costumes and masks based on the "Dark Shadows" theme and featuring Barnabas. The Western Publishing Company is also on the way with a boxed board game, comic books and puzzles.

The merchandising story to date is just the beginning, however, according to William F. Dennis, Vice President in Charge of ABC Merchandising, Inc. "Jonathan Frid, who plays Barnabas, has just returned from a 10-city personal appearance .tour, and the response has been fantastic. The excitement is just beginning to build, and for a daytime show, the reaction is really unprecedented.

"Thousands of fans, mostly teenagers, greeted Frid at every stop. I have had promotion men at ABC affiliates around the country tell me that the potential market, as indicated by fan mail and community response alone, for Barnabas Collins products, posters, rings like the one that he wears on the air, canes, music boxes, vampire fangs, capes and the like—is enormous.

"A record album with Barnabas is already in the planning stages, as is a 'Dark Shadows' magazine."
Jonathan Frid, the real life Barnabas, is a Shakespearean - trained actor who studied at the Royal Academy in Britain and the Yale School of Drama. He made his debut as Barnabas on April 14, 1967 with a projected run of two or three weeks for the character. He has been a "Dark Shadows," regular every since. Dan Curtis Associates, which produces "Dark Shadows," reports that mail for the-show recently has been running to almost 6,000 letters a week since Barnabas soared to fame, with Frid himself receiving nearly 5,000 of that total — prodigious figures for television programs, and record breaking for daytime.

Since Frid joined the show as Barnabas, "Dark Shadows" audiences has soared 62 per cent increasing from 2,800,000 to 4,450,000 homes per average minute. Teenage viewership is especially high, and to allow an even greater portion of" the teen audiences to see "Dark Shadows" every day, the show was moved from its 2:30-3 p.m. time slot to 3-3:30 p.m., KODE, Channel 12.

Frid's most recent personal appearances have testified in advance to the efficacy of the time change. Several weeks ago, he appeared in three Stern Brothers stores in the New York area as a special guest" at fashion shows displaying the latest in girl's and women's footwear— "Monster Shoes."

Stern's officials described his appearance as one of the biggest in memory. On a ticket-only basis, about 800 women and teenagers crowded each of Frid's performances, and an additional, appearance had to be scheduled at the 42nd' Street store to meet the demand (only the second time this has ever occurred.)
The Chinese may think that this is the year of the monkey, but at ABC it is quickly becoming  the year of the vampire.

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