Friday, June 1, 2012

"Frid modest about success," 1970

Note: This short feature was originally published with the headline "Trid modest about success." I've corrected it for this post.

Frid modest about success
The Lowell Sun,  March 27, 1970
By Phyllis BarteHe

NEW YORK — It probably is a sign of the times that a guilt-ridden, lovehungry, bloodsucking vampire is a TV matinee idol to the young housewives and teenagers of the nation.
Jonathan Frid, who plays Barnabas Collins in ABC's romantic-spook soap, "Dark Shadows," is modest about his success—modest and a little scared.
"I'm rather touched by it," he says in a distinguished Shakespearean voice that soothes like distant thunder. "But when make a personal appearance and see the crowds, or when a woman approaches me, slightly terrified and screaming, "I like you!' it's unnerving."
Frid is seen by 6,300,000 viewers, 5,000 of whom write him fan letters each week, and that is an all-time record for a man with working fangs. Bela Lugosi, as Dracula, had a large following, but it was nothing like the truly enamored fans of Barnabas Collins.
There is a reason.

FRID, A 45-year-old character actor, is an artist at analyzing the personalities of the roles he is playing. "Because of Ihe nature of my face (which could best be described as carrily handsome) I have played heavies since I was 16," says Frid. "I am perverse enough in my nature that I try to make heroes out of villains. I want the audience to understand them. I feel it's my duty as an actor to show that there is a reason for every evil."
As "Dark Shadows" fans — who range from age four up — know, Barnabas Collins is a 175-year-old vampire who returned from a coffin, to the old English mansion, Collinwood, to rejoin his descendants.
He is an out-and-out, gen-oo-ine vampire who must have blood in order to exist. Bloodsucking, however, is an incidental part of his activities.
"Usually those scenes (where his fangs are bared, in the vicinity of someone's neck) are idiotic to me," says Frid.
"I play Barnabas more as a man with a hang-up than as a vampire. I hate what I am—that is what I play.  That gives me a chance to interpret ruthless aggression as well as sensitive reaction in my own revulsion.
"I guess this has made me a sympathetic character to the audience. I bring out the maternal instincts of the housewives.''
He wishes not lo be thought of so much as a sympathetic character as an unpredictable one, "because Barnabas, by the very nature of his nature, is unpredictable even lo himself. He wants to be a nice guy.  But he's got to live."
Jonathan Frid was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, of English and Scottish ancestry. He served with the Canadian Navy during World War II, Mien studied al Ihe Royal Academy of Dramatic arts. In 1957 he received a master's degree in directing from Yale University Drama School, and until Barnabas Collins came along, he played character roles on Broadway, in stock productions and Ihe American Shakespeare

A SMALL PART of his huge fan mail comes from people who believe in spirlualism and the occult. He tosses it out.
"I can't take occult things seriously," Frid says, "I get more scared of people who do take it seriously than our show scares little children. We make mincemeat out of occult 'sciences' on the show, by (he way, with our werewolves and ghosts and other creatures; we're strictly romantic fantasy."
As a man, Jonathan Frid claims, "I have a private agony to live through — as everyone has. My nature is to take myself too seriously, not to be open, and to feel that, however successful I am, I'm not good enough."

1 comment:

Sandi McBride said...

Yep, I was a letter writing, Shadows watching ultra fan...Johnny Depp looks more like a clown than a vampire and I have to admit, clowns scare the bejeebers outta me!

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