Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Grayson Hall Blog-a-thon: Friday, June 22

(Note: The following is a piece I wrote earlier in the week for The Cinementals.)

It’s possible you’re not familiar with Grayson Hall, the Academy Award-nominated actress and co-star of one of the most popular and enduring television shows of all time. On Friday, June 22, a few of her admirers will band together for a cooperative blogging event that should remedy that dilemma.

Hall had a strange, diverse performing career, one that tends to fragment her fans into distinct groups. Those who loved her Oscar-nominated performance in John Huston’s THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA (1964) likely had little interest in watching her play wallflower to a lovelorn vampire in ABC’s Dark Shadows (1967-1971) a few years later.

Her Academy Award nom materialized between turns in a sexploitation film titled SATAN IN HIGH HEELS (1962) and Disney’s THAT DARN CAT (1965), demonstrating a range not often seen in actors of her era. She also had an extensive career in the Dionysian netherworld of the legitimate theater, and played a late carer featured role on One Life To Life which, like Dark Shadows, was written by her husband Sam Hall (who also penned parts for her in the two MGM feature films, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS).

Dark Shadows fans had the best of all possible worlds. The show staged frenzied melodrama on a daily basis, and involved divergent story arcs that demanded more from its cast than any other television show I can think of. Many of the actors were required to play multiple roles on the series, and few of them handled that challenge as well as Grayson Hall. During four years and nearly 500 episodes of Dark Shadows she played everything from gypsy witches to French aristocrats, and is best known for creating the role of Dr. Julia Hoffman, the ally and enemy of vampire Barnabas Collins. Joan Bennett may have been the grande dame of Dark Shadows but Grayson Hall was the secret weapon.

Dark Shadows represented only a few years of her life, and even then she found time to take part in other television shows and theatrical productions. The Grayson Hall Blog-a-thon isn’t meant to be a Dark Shadows devotional, though you can bet the many characters she played on that show will figure into the proceedings in some manner. Here is a list of the websites that will be participating in tomorrow's events:

1 comment:

BT said...

Cannot tell you how excited I am by all this.
Thank you!

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