Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dark Shadows Facebook Banners

I'm always on the lookout for Dark Shadows images that could make for interesting banners for the new Facebook "timeline" design. I was tinkering around with a few this morning and thought I'd share them. Help yourself to the images below and use them however you wish. This batch is taken from art from the classic comic series from Gold Key.






Friday, June 29, 2012

Jonathan Frid: "They don't schedule Dark Shadows in my home town of Ontario," 1969

  


Below is a surprisingly detailed look at Dark Shadows as the show entered its fourth year on the air. Too many promotional pieces in the 1960s recycled the same bits of information or focused too much on actor Jonathan Frid, who really had little new to say about the character after his first year on Dark Shadows. Instead, this story includes some surprisingly personal anecdotes from Frid, as well as input from Grayson Hall, Joan Bennett, Don Briscoe and Dan Curtis.

"Dark Shadows" Set for New Season
April 20,1969 Sunday Post-Crescent

Within the walls of an innocent-looking, cream-colored structure on New York's West 53 St., there's an assortment of vampires, werewolves, witches, warlocks, ghosts and monsters who have been haunting some critics, harassing each other and delighting millions of afternoon video viewers for three seasons.

These characters, of course, are inhabitants of the world of "Dark Shadows," the ABC Gothic gala which chill-conditions home screens five afternoons a week, and will continue to do so into a fourth season.

Led by Barnabas Collins, the suave, 175-year-old vampire whose menacing exterior has elevated him from the ranks of featured performer to television stardom, the "Dark Shadows" cast has succeeded in capturing the young housewife audience and also has won over the teenage set.

WIDE APPEAL
"Our show varies its appeal," says Dan Curtis, the executive producer whose imaginative brain created the
haunting serial in June 1966. "The housewives are attracted by the appeal of Jonathan Frid as Barnabas and by the situations and intrigues which make all serials popular. The teens go for the 'way out' characters  featured on the show."

Joan Bennett, one of Hollywood's famed leading ladies, has one of the more conservative roles on the  program as the mistress of the brooding mansion which serves as a focal point for the mysterious goings-on.
Nearing the start of her fourth year on the series, Miss Bennett points out that she finds television work  enjoyable, though "There's much more work involved than in the movies. The other day I learned 24 pages of dialogue for a half-hour program. In films, that would have taken a  week.

"The only aspect I can't get used to is the schedule," she says. "Free time has become a cherished luxury,  because a normal work week can involve more than 70 hours in rehearsals, tapings and home study. When I say week, I mean Monday through Sunday."

A STAGE PLAY
Although her running part in "Dark Shadows" keeps Miss Bennett in New York most of the year, she  nevertheless has a clause in her contract which allows her to star in a stage production every summer. In order to explain her brief absences from the serial, the writers Sam Hall (Grayson Hall's husband), Ron Sproat and Gordon Russell have to figure out different ways to write her out of the script each time.

Don Briscoe, the young actor whose characterization of the werewolf keeps viewers in a tizzy, enjoys the advantage of having once been written out of the show.

"Originally I appeared as a fellow who became a vampire and was dispatched with a stake," Don says. "Now I have returned to the show as the vampire's brother with his own hang-up. He's a werewolf."

"Dan Curtis is brilliant in creating new ideas for the serial," says Grayson Hall, who plays Dr. Hoffman on "Dark Shadows" "Who would think of setting up a one-sided romance with a vampire? "It's one-sided  because I'm the one who has eyes only for Barnabas, while he has his mind on other things.

"Women really seem to understand how Dr. Hoffman feels about Barnabas," says Grayson.

JOINED LATE
Jonathan Frid was not a member of the original "Dark Shadows" cast. He made his first appearance on the show April 14, 1967, and was originally signed for a three-week stint. His characterization caught fire  immediately and the rest is daytime serial history. Frid receives more than 1,500 letters a week from fans all over the country. However, he takes his rise to fame in stride.

"I've been a working actor for 20 years, so it didn't happen overnight," Frid says. "I suppose every actor  wants to be a star, but I never consciously worked at it. I never expected any of my roles to bring me stardom, but I'm certainly grateful to Barnabas for making every actor's dream come true."

Jonathan still resides at the same east side New York apartment he occupied before success crossed his  path, but he has had to change his telephone number on several occasions even though his number is unlisted.

"It's amazing how the fans can find out everything about you," he says. "It's almost as if they have a secret language with which they communicate with each other. Sometimes I'll stop in at a restaurant to get a bite (excuse the pun) and the next thing I know there'll be a crowd of youngsters waiting outside."

ONE BIG CHANGE
"Dark Shadows" has brought one major change into Jonathan's life. He travels more. It isn't often that he's able to spend a quiet weekend at home. Usually he'll be off to the airport for a flight to appear before a live  audience, either on behalf of ABC or for some worthy organization. He has been a guest on a number of telethons and his presence has resulted in more than the usual pledges of donations. Although Jonathan's fame has spread  from coast to coast, it wasn't until recently that he was able to convince his mother and brothers in Canada that the "black sheep" of the Frid family, who had deserted home and the family business years ago to try his hand at acting, had finally become a celebrity.

"They don't schedule 'Dark Shadows' in my home town of Ontario," Frid says. "Although I send home some of my better reviews, they still weren't really convinced that I had achieved some kind of acknowledgement as an actor.

"Several months ago when I learned my mother and eldest brother were coming to New York for a visit, I decided to throw a big party in their honor.

"I rented a suite at a fashionable Park Ave. hotel and arranged to have catered an elaborate soiree, inviting the producers, writers and cast of 'Dark Shadows.' performers of other ABC New York-based shows and some friends of mine who have made a name for themselves in show business.

"Hours later when the last of my guests had gone, my mother turned to me and, with a smile, said, 'Son, I think you're finally on the way'."

Barnabas Collins by Jay Potts



Jay Potts
More from my 2012 HeroesCon sketchbook: Barnabas Collins by Jay Potts.

Jay Potts is the creator of World of Hurt, a terrific webcomic chronicling the exploits of Isaiah "Pastor" Hurt. The first storyline, THE THRILL SEEKERS, has been collected in a hardback edition that was the product of a successful Kickstarter project. I'm not sure if there are any copies of the book still available for sale, but you could could always ask him via his Twitter feed. (I own a copy and it's amazing, fyi.)

The current World of Hurt story, THE BLACK FIST, is about 2/3 of the way finished, and is currently being serialized at the World of Hurt's website ... for free!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

1,000 people attend 1986 Dark Shadows Festival

The fourth annual Dark Shadows Festival received a brief mention a 1986 issue of The Gettysburg Times. According to the festival's spokesperson, an estimated 1,000 people attended the event that year, but attendance at this year's event is expected to be much smaller. I've heard that space limitations have capped attendance at this year's festival, set for the weekend of July 28. The website says Dark Shadows Day at the festival is already sold out ... but is also says Jonathan Frid will be attending, too.

Newsmakers
The Gettysburg Times, Oct. 27, 1986

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Jonathan Frid, who portrayed vampire Barnabas Collins in television's "Dark Shadows," got a ghoulish welcome from fans who would like to raise the show from its filmworld grave.

About 1,000 people attended the fourth annual Dark Shadows Festival that ended Sunday, said festival spokesman Steve Randisi.

"Dark Shadows," once a top daytime attraction for ABC-TV, ran from 1966 through 1971, and now is in syndication. In addition to the defanged Fnd and other actors, the festival included presentations of rarely seen episodes, bloopers, a trivia contest, a costume competition and an auction of "Dark Shadows" memorabilia.

Vampire Josette by artist Cara McGee


Cara McGee was one of the more quietly famous artists to attend the HeroesCon in Charlotte, N.C., last weekend. While you might not recognize her name, it's possible you've seen her work circulating (often uncredited) on Tumblr, especially among fans of Sherlock Holmes, The Avengers and The Hunger Games.

While trolling the aisles for guys like Marv Wolfman and George Perez, I noticed McGee's work and asked her for a sketch of Kathryn Leigh Scott as Josette (the vampire version.) While speaking to her I began to recognize some of her work from Tumblr ... as did several other people passing by her table.

I've included some samples of her work below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dark Shadows turns 46 (sorta)


On this day in 1966, Dark Shadows debuted on ABC.  Here's how one newspaper described the show's first episode:

"DARK SHADOWS —Premiere. Daytime TV's first serialized suspense drama debuts at 4 p.m., ch. 7, with the story of a young girl who takes a position as governess in a great brooding mansion that looms above a small fishing village. Alexandre Moltke stars, with Louis Edmonds as the sinister master of the house, Joan Bennett as his wife, Mitchell Ryan as a villager with a mysterious past, Mark Allen as an enigmatic painter and David Hennesey as the young charge."

Depending on the television market, Dark Shadows episodes began to roll out at different times during the summer. Some affiliates aired it in the afternoon, while others aired the show in the morning. In Portland, Maine, the first episode of Dark Shadows didn't air until July 4.



The show's initial premise, a loose adaption of Jane Eyre, would prove to have shaky legs, and would slowly mutate during the months after its debut until it became the kooky sci-fi/horror show we know and love.

Dark Shadows: The Next Generation

Did you ever see something that was such a great idea that you're resentful you didn't think of it first?

Those were the emotions I was grappling with this week as I discovered Dark Shadows: The Next Generation on Twitter. Taking a cue from the hilarious Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 8, DS:TNG is a Twitter feed that speculates where Dark Shadows might have gone had it escaped cancellation in 1971.

So far, fanciful story arcs have included Quentin's marriage to a mermaid, an elevator leading to "Vertical Time" and Jonathan Frid taking advice from Robert Goulet's stylist (see the photo to your left.)

Dark Shadows: The Next Generation is the brainchild of Patrick McCray, who may or may not have been driven insane by his marathon viewing of all 1,225 episodes of Dark Shadows.

When Barnabas met Velma



I don't know if I mentioned before, but I'll be getting married later in 2012. Rather than crank out a bland, forgettable "Save the Date" card (known by those in the wedding industrial complex as an "STD"), I decided to have a little fun with it. I asked George Caltsoudas, whose art you might have seen here, if he'd be interested in providing the art for the front. As you probably figured out, he agreed ... and the cards have gone over incredibly well with friends and family.

In case you're wondering, the characters depicted on the card are Barnabas Collins and Velma Dinkley, which were how my fiancee and I dressed for Halloween last year.


Now that (most of) the cards have been mailed, it's time to share the art with you good people. If you like it, drop Caltsoudas a line at his various websites and let him know what you think. Personally, I think he's an incredible artist, and I'm grateful that he could find the time for me.



Dynamite Comics is currently producing semi-monthly series based on Dark Shadows, and seriously needs to sign Caltsoudas to draw a story arc.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Artist Jeffrey Brown brings Adam to life


I spent last Saturday at the HeroesCon in Charlotte, N.C., and picked up a handful of Dark Shadows themed sketches. I'll be sharing them over the next week or so, and wanted to start with a color sketch of Robert Rodan as Adam by Jeffrey Brown.


Jeffrey Brown draws Adam
at the Charlotte HeroesCon.
Brown's art has been making the rounds on Facebook and Tumblr in recent weeks thanks to the success of his book, Darth Vader and Son. I had not expected to see Brown at the convention (mostly because I did a terrible job of actually reading the guest list) and was excited to see what he could do with the characters from Dark Shadows. I handed him a stack of photos for reference and he selected Adam.

Brown has also written and illustrated a number of independent* graphic novel, and his book Unlikely is now sitting on my "to read" book stack.



(* "Independent" usually means "sans superheroes.")

David Selby makes first professional stage appearance at Abraham Lincoln, 1968

Washington Post photo
David Selby was an old-hand at playing Abraham Lincoln by the time he made his first professional stage appearance as the president in 1968. Selby, then 27 years old, had portrayed the president in two college plays in 1965 before making his first professional bow as Lincoln in George Herman's Mr. Highpockets in 1968.

Selby was briefly quoted in a 1968 newspaper feature about Mr. Highpockets, and mentioned he'd eventually like to stage a one-man performance of Abraham Lincoln. Selby would go on to play the president in numerous stage and television appearances, most recently at Ford's Theater in productions of The Heavens Are Hung in Black and Necessary Sacrifices.


Actor returns to play Lincoln once again
Southern Illinoisan, July 10, 1968
By Ben Gelman

David' Selby, who played the part of Abraham Lincoln in two Southern Illinois' University theater productions as a graduate student, returns to SIU this week as a professional actor to play the title role in a new Lincoln play, "Mr. Highpockets."

"Mr. Highpockets" is the winner in a $4,500 drama contest staged by SIU. It will have its world premiere tonight and will run through Friday at the SIU Theater. In 1965 Selby played Lincoln in "Prologue to Glory" and "Last Days of Lincoln" at the Kelso Hollow Theater, New Salem, where SIU has been presenting outdoor summer theater for many years.

Physically, Selby is ideal for the part of Lincoln. He has a shock of black hair,  craggy features, grayblue eyes and his 180 pounds are carried on a gangling 6'3" frame. Selby is a native of Morgantown, W. Va., and holds bachelor's and master's  degrees from the University of West Virginia.

His bachelor's degree is in business, but somewhere along the line he discovered his real interest and took the graduate degree in theater. Although he has not taught theater, he has completed his course work toward a doctoral degree, much of it at SIU. During his stay at SIU in 1965, Selby also played the Clarence Barrow role, Henry Drummond, in "Inherit the Wind."

Since leaving SIU, Selby has been a professional actor. Although be has not played Lincoln — "they only do Lincoln plays in Illinois these days," he said — he has a wide variety of professional roles in stock companies; the Cleveland Playhouse, a repertory company; an off-off-Broadway production in the East Village, New York; in "The Impossible Years," with Sam Levene; and in the Equity Master Theater production of "Yes, My Darling Daughter."

He is very much interested in Lincoln, and has read extensively about the Civil War president.

"Some day, I would like to do a one-man show as Lincon, something like Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain," he said.

Meanwhile, he is deep in rehearsals "for "Mr. Highpockets," a fantasy about Lincoln's long acquaintance with the nearness of death and its influence on his career. Highpockets and death — or Dr. Stygian Sticks, as  portrayed in the play — have some dramatic confrontations in the play.

The drama also has its lighter moments as Lincoln regales "Doc" Sticks with Kentucky and Illinois stories. Selby will have ample opportunity to exercise his professional talents in "Mr. Highpockets," which presents Lincoln from the time he was 22 to. his last years as President.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dark Shadows prop stars in 1974 action movie



Technically, the great Fred "The Hammer" Williamson was the star of 1974's Black Eye, directed by Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space.) But it was a very familiar Dark Shadows prop that stole the spotlight on the movie poster, which included taglines such as "Whenever the cane turns up, someone turns up dead," and "The name of the game is the cane of pain." In fairness, the famous Barnabas Collins cane was not a creation of the ABC prop department (Jonathan Frid said the cane came from "Sam the Umbrella Man on 57th St.") But it's unlikely the creators of Black Eye were unaware of the cane's significance.

Black Eye also features Richard Anderson, who appeared in the Dan Curtis-directed Kolchak film, The Night Strangler.

Has anyone out there seen this film? I'm a fan of Fred Williamson but, like Humphrey Bogart, the guy has made so many movies that it's almost impossible to keep up with them all. Yes, I just compared Fred Williamson to Humphrey Bogart.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Night of Dark Shadows an unsolved mystery


As a cultural phenomenon, the original Dark Shadows ended not with a bang, but a whimper. Four months after the 1,225th and final episode, MGM released the second feature film based upon the ABC-TV daytime drama. Directed by series creator Dan Curtis, NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS reportedly fared well financially, but proved to be a baffling denouement for fans.
 
Thanks to bizarre creative decisions on both sides of the camera, the movie was just as confusing to new audiences. NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS wasn’t edited as much as it was eviscerated, with an estimated 40 minutes hastily cut from its 129-minute running time thanks to a last-minute studio mandate. The movie that eventually screened to paying audiences was a frustrating compromise that satisfied nobody.

 
David Selby and Kate Jackson play a young married couple who move into a mansion they’ve recently inherited. Before long, Selby begins to have violent changes in his personality as spirits begin fighting for possession of his soul. While not the most sophisticated story ever put to film, it certainly deals with mature concepts that were probably lost on the younger audiences that had made the daytime series so popular. Selby and Jackson’s marriage slowly unravels throughout the course of the story as director Dan Curtis and screenwriter Sam Hall narratively argue against the adage “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” There’s a greater danger in this film from people who are unwilling to let go of the past.

From a creative standpoint, NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS is “Dark Shadows In Name Only.” Curtis made the bewildering decision to have members of the television cast reprise their roles for the movie, and then change those characters so completely that they were unrecognizable to longtime fans. It feels as though Curtis had grown tired of Collinwood but couldn’t figure out how to leave, a problem shared by many of the characters in this movie.


 Still, there are a lot of solid ideas on display in NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS. At its heart, the movie is about an artist chasing his own self destruction. Throw in a haunted house, not-quite-forgotten murders and the occasional ghost, and you have a story that plays like a rough draft of Stephen King’s The Shining. King was a fan of Dark Shadows, and I have to wonder if this movie played a nascent role in the development of that novel. I’m not suggesting he stole any ideas from NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, but it’s hard not to imagine King, sitting in some Maine theater in 1971, ticking off the various problems with the movie while letting his imagination seek out solutions.

My biggest problems with the film (pacing, editing, confusing story elements, etc.) were clearly exaggerated by the whirlwind editing session that left approximately 1/3 of the final film on the cutting room floor. I’ve seen the movie a handful of times over the years, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever really seen it.


Unlike other older films that were edited extensively, the excised footage of NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS still exists, and surviving cast members have reportedly re-recorded dialogue tracks in hopes of preparing a restored, director’s cut for a home video release. No official announcement has been made, though rumor has it that a DVD release of both NIGHT and HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS is pending due, in part, to increased attention generated by Tim Burton’s feature film. Both Dark Shadows feature films were released on VHS in 1998, but neither has ever appeared on DVD.

 I don’t know if the restored footage will have a transformative effect on the overall film, but at least we’ll have a chance to evaluate a version of the movie that doesn’t play like a glorified highlight reel. Perhaps soon we can travel back to 1971 and solve this mystery once and for all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Grayson Hall Blog-a-thon: Endcap



The Grayson Hall Blog-a-thon has come to a close. I'd like to thank everyone who joined yesterday's choir to sing the praises of an actress whose talents were sometimes under appreciated (at least by some Dark Shadows fans.) "Mom would be delighted, and slightly mortified, but delight would win out," her son, Matt, said yesterday on his blog.

Contributions to the blog-a-thon appeared throughout the day, so if you tuned in early, you might have missed a few items. I certainly did, and have revised the blogroll this morning to reflect contributions of R.J. Jamison and Jessica Dwyer. Please visit these websites and leave a few comments for the writers.


BLOGROLL

The Collinsport Historical Society
Jonathan Frid was the face of Dark Shadows, but Grayson Hall was it's soul. Even though nobody ever made action figures or board games baed on her characters, Dark Shadows wouldn't have been the same without her.  Plus fan art, vintage newspaper clippings about Hall's stage career and more throughout the day!


The Performance Art of Grayson Hall: Life On Two Levels
Using lines from her Oscar-nominated film Night of the Iguana as thematic bookends, Frank Jay Gruber discusses the differences between Grayson Hall’s film and television performance styles, and why each is distinct and memorable.

The Collins Foundation 
"If you have to choose between real and interesting, choose interesting.” According to Patrick McCray, Grayson Hall gives us both in Dark Shadows.

The Classic Movie Lady
At age 13, Sidney Weade's favorite actress was Grayson Hall ... and she had never seen Dark Shadows.

The Drawing Room (Home of the Dark Shadows podcast)
On the latest installment of The Drawing Room podcast, Chrissy recites her poem, Ode to Hoffman, 1967, which celebrates Grayson Hall’s contribution to the early episodes of Dark Shadows. The poem is also available to read at the website.

Barnabas & Company
S. R. Shutt shares his thoughts on the artistry of Grayson Hall, playfully inspired by Wallace Stevens’ short verse cycle, Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

Dead Celebrity I will Sorely Miss of the Day – The Grayson Hall edition
The "hopelessly unhip blogger and bikini model" says Grayson Hall was the "BADDEST VAMPIRE LOVIN’ FOX THERE WILL EVER BE."

7 or 8 things I know about Her
Biographer R.J. Jamison summarizes the mystique of Grayson Hall

Hoffman/Lambert: The Doctor and The Vampire
Jessica Dwyer talks about women who are drawn to the dark side, and what Julia Hoffman's character has to say about that strange fascination.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dr. Julia Hoffman by Emlyn Boyle


Dr. Julia Hoffman by Emlyn Boyle, moderator of The Collins Museum group on Facebook, which hosts a lot of original Dark Shadows-themed artwork. See for yourself!




BLOGROLL

The Performance Art of Grayson Hall: Life On Two Levels
Using lines from her Oscar-nominated film Night of the Iguana as thematic bookends, Frank Jay Gruber discusses the differences between Grayson Hall’s film and television performance styles, and why each is distinct and memorable.

The Collins Foundation 
"If you have to choose between real and interesting, choose interesting.” According to Patrick McCray, Grayson Hall gives us both in Dark Shadows.

The Classic Movie Lady
At age 13, Sidney Weade's favorite actress was Grayson Hall ... and she had never seen Dark Shadows.

The Drawing Room (Home of the Dark Shadows podcast)
On the latest installment of The Drawing Room podcast, Chrissy recites her poem, Ode to Hoffman, 1967, which celebrates Grayson Hall’s contribution to the early episodes of Dark Shadows. The poem is also available to read at the website.

Barnabas & Company
S. R. Shutt shares his thoughts on the artistry of Grayson Hall, playfully inspired by Wallace Stevens’ short verse cycle, Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

Dead Celebrity I will Sorely Miss of the Day – The Grayson Hall edition
The "hopelessly unhip blogger and bikini model" says Grayson Hall was the "BADDEST VAMPIRE LOVIN’ FOX THERE WILL EVER BE."

7 or 8 things I know about Her
Biographer R.J. Jamison summarizes the mystique of Grayson Hall

Hoffman/Lambert: The Doctor and The Vampire
Jessica Dwyer talks about women who are drawn to the dark side, and what Julia Hoffman's character has to say about that strange fascination.

Grayson Hall takes aim


Shortly after her Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1965, Grayson Hall was spotted by an attentive photographer while shopping at an antique show at Madison Square Garden. Picking up an antique rifle, she gave the photographer an image to remember.



BLOGROLL

The Performance Art of Grayson Hall: Life On Two Levels
Using lines from her Oscar-nominated film Night of the Iguana as thematic bookends, Frank Jay Gruber discusses the differences between Grayson Hall’s film and television performance styles, and why each is distinct and memorable.

The Collins Foundation 
"If you have to choose between real and interesting, choose interesting.” According to Patrick McCray, Grayson Hall gives us both in Dark Shadows.

The Classic Movie Lady
At age 13, Sidney Weade's favorite actress was Grayson Hall ... and she had never seen Dark Shadows.

The Drawing Room (Home of the Dark Shadows podcast)
On the latest installment of The Drawing Room podcast, Chrissy recites her poem, Ode to Hoffman, 1967, which celebrates Grayson Hall’s contribution to the early episodes of Dark Shadows. The poem is also available to read at the website.

Barnabas & Company
S. R. Shutt shares his thoughts on the artistry of Grayson Hall, playfully inspired by Wallace Stevens’ short verse cycle, Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

Dead Celebrity I will Sorely Miss of the Day – The Grayson Hall edition
The "hopelessly unhip blogger and bikini model" says Grayson Hall was the "BADDEST VAMPIRE LOVIN’ FOX THERE WILL EVER BE."

7 or 8 things I know about Her
Biographer R.J. Jamison summarizes the mystique of Grayson Hall

Hoffman/Lambert: The Doctor and The Vampire
Jessica Dwyer talks about women who are drawn to the dark side, and what Julia Hoffman's character has to say about that strange fascination.

Grayson Hall: 1961 Summer Stock

In 1961, Grayson Hall spent the summer in Pennsylvania participating in a season of summer stock theater titled "Off-Broadway at Hedgerow." Among the plays she appeared in that summer were The Changeling, T.S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party and The Human Voice, which received the following write-up in the Sept. 2, 1961 issue of Delaware County Daily Times (one day after the play's final show.)




Love Has Two Faces of Anguish 
Delaware County Daily Times, Sept. 2, 1961

A woman in love has many faces.

The anguished two on the right belong to a character in French author Jean Cocteau's play, "The HumanVoice."'A room, a woman, love, and the telephone: These are the materials of which the one-act drama is constructed.It tells the story of a woman whose last connection with her faithless lover is the capricious telephone.

In the top picture she says: "Hello. Exchange, hello. Someone's calling me and I can't answer. There are people on the line. Tell that woman to ring off! Is that you, dear . . . is it you . . . ?")

Cocteau has written that he would like the actress who plays this part to "give the impression of a woman who is bleeding, losing her lifeblood . . . "

The bewilderment of the woman jilted comes to its climax— with the inanimate telephone the means of her destruction— with her final words: "Your voice is around my neck . . . my darling . . . Quickly, break off ... I love you, I love you . . . I love you . . ." '

(Grayson Hall is the actress who is appearing in "The Human Voice," now at Hedgerow Theater with with two other one-act plays.)
 
Hall was a local celebrity, and was even photographed that year with her son, Matt (who is also taking part in today's blog-a-thon,) on the lawn of a home the family was renting in Moylan, Pa., for the summer.

 
BLOGROLL

The Performance Art of Grayson Hall: Life On Two Levels
Using lines from her Oscar-nominated film Night of the Iguana as thematic bookends, Frank Jay Gruber discusses the differences between Grayson Hall’s film and television performance styles, and why each is distinct and memorable.

The Collins Foundation 
"If you have to choose between real and interesting, choose interesting.” According to Patrick McCray, Grayson Hall gives us both in Dark Shadows.

The Classic Movie Lady
At age 13, Sidney Weade's favorite actress was Grayson Hall ... and she had never seen Dark Shadows.

The Drawing Room (Home of the Dark Shadows podcast)
On the latest installment of The Drawing Room podcast, Chrissy recites her poem, Ode to Hoffman, 1967, which celebrates Grayson Hall’s contribution to the early episodes of Dark Shadows. The poem is also available to read at the website.

Barnabas & Company
S. R. Shutt shares his thoughts on the artistry of Grayson Hall, playfully inspired by Wallace Stevens’ short verse cycle, Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

Dead Celebrity I will Sorely Miss of the Day – The Grayson Hall edition
The "hopelessly unhip blogger and bikini model" says Grayson Hall was the "BADDEST VAMPIRE LOVIN’ FOX THERE WILL EVER BE."

7 or 8 things I know about Her
Biographer R.J. Jamison summarizes the mystique of Grayson Hall

Hoffman/Lambert: The Doctor and The Vampire
Jessica Dwyer talks about women who are drawn to the dark side, and what Julia Hoffman's character has to say about that strange fascination.

Grayson Hall: Art imitates life



Dana Lee, who you might remember from this post way back in February, graciously sent me some samples of her artwork to include in today's Grayson Hall Blog-a-thon. I'm especially fond of the doll, which is as close as we'll ever get to a Grayson Hall action figure (unless Specter Toys steps up its game in 2013.)



BLOGROLL

The Performance Art of Grayson Hall: Life On Two Levels
Using lines from her Oscar-nominated film Night of the Iguana as thematic bookends, Frank Jay Gruber discusses the differences between Grayson Hall’s film and television performance styles, and why each is distinct and memorable.

The Collins Foundation 
"If you have to choose between real and interesting, choose interesting.” According to Patrick McCray, Grayson Hall gives us both in Dark Shadows.

The Classic Movie Lady
At age 13, Sidney Weade's favorite actress was Grayson Hall ... and she had never seen Dark Shadows.

The Drawing Room (Home of the Dark Shadows podcast)
On the latest installment of The Drawing Room podcast, Chrissy recites her poem, Ode to Hoffman, 1967, which celebrates Grayson Hall’s contribution to the early episodes of Dark Shadows. The poem is also available to read at the website.

Barnabas & Company
S. R. Shutt shares his thoughts on the artistry of Grayson Hall, playfully inspired by Wallace Stevens’ short verse cycle, Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

Dead Celebrity I will Sorely Miss of the Day – The Grayson Hall edition
The "hopelessly unhip blogger and bikini model" says Grayson Hall was the "BADDEST VAMPIRE LOVIN’ FOX THERE WILL EVER BE."


Grayson Hall: A loud kind of quiet


I'm not entirely sure when I started to admire Grayson Hall.

It certainly wasn't during her first few months on Dark Shadows. Hall didn't do anything wrong, exactly, but Dark Shadows had a way of making villains of its heroes. Even though Barnabas Collins started out as a total bastard, you knew the show was better off with him than without. Consequently, it's hard to imagine anyone hoping that Dr. Julia Hoffman would be successful in her efforts to thwart him. The very idea was a buzzkill.

But it didn't take long for Grayson Hall and Julia Hoffman to work their way into the fabric of Dark Shadows. By the end of her first year on the show, Hall's unrequited (and initially unscripted) love of Barnabas Collins had become the heart and soul of Dark Shadows. It certainly has more depth and resonance than any of the other romances that flittered about in front of the camera during the show's 1,125 episode run.

Hall's next character, Natalie Du Pres, was mostly a waste of her talents. When the series made its first leap backward in time to reveal the "origin" of Barnabas Collins, Hall was stuck with one of the more uninteresting characters in the story in Countess Natalie Du Pres (a character Barbara Steel also failed to make compelling in the 1991 revival series.) But the show's writers learned from their mistakes during the next "flashback" storyline when they delivered to her Magda Rakosi, the gypsy witch.


As Magda, Hall got to chew the scenery with abandon. No matter how big the performance got, it never went off the rails. In fact, Hall was such a larger-than-life person that she only seemed unrealistic when playing staid characters like Natalie Du Pres. In the future, when she was asked to play quiet, it was an incredibly loud kind of quiet.

I think it was my second viewing of the series (separated by about 15 years from my first viewing) that I developed a genuine affection for Grayson Hall. I noticed how essential Dr. Hoffman had become to the show's narrative, and how wildly nuanced Hall was as Hoffman, Magda and the sinister, predatory housekeeper "Hoffman" from the first parallel time story. It was while I was writing a recent column about the missing footage in Night of Dark Shadows that I realized the deleted scenes I was most interested in seeing were those that included Grayson Hall.


Hall's popularity on the show is difficult to gauge, mostly because most of the Dark Shadows merchandise created in the 1960s was aimed at fans of Barnabas and Quentin. Today, there, Grayson Hall has an online following that seems to have happened organically. A quick search of Tumblr will show hashtags such as #julia hoffman, #barnabas and julia and, of course, #grayson hall. And posts marked with these hash tags appear almost daily.

Still, I had no idea if anyone else was interested enough in the actress to take part in a blog-a-thon devoted to her, and expected my queries to be mostly ignored. Instead, everyone I asked agreed to take part ... and others soon followed. It appears there are websites taking part that I wasn't even aware of, which is amazing.

I shied away from referring to this as an "annual event," because we might never do this again. But I also didn't want to close the door on the idea of doing another Grayson Hall-themed day later in the year. I've got several small pieces about Grayson Hall scheduled to appear here throughout the day. Meanwhile, please visit the other websites and see what they've got to say about the late actress.


BLOGROLL


The Performance Art of Grayson Hall: Life On Two Levels
Using lines from her Oscar-nominated film Night of the Iguana as thematic bookends, Frank Jay Gruber discusses the differences between Grayson Hall’s film and television performance styles, and why each is distinct and memorable.

The Collins Foundation 
"If you have to choose between real and interesting, choose interesting.” According to Patrick McCray, Grayson Hall gives us both in Dark Shadows.

The Classic Movie Lady
At age 13, Sidney Weade's favorite actress was Grayson Hall ... and she had never seen Dark Shadows.

The Drawing Room (Home of the Dark Shadows podcast)
On the latest installment of The Drawing Room podcast, Chrissy recites her poem, Ode to Hoffman, 1967, which celebrates Grayson Hall’s contribution to the early episodes of Dark Shadows. The poem is also available to read at the website.

Barnabas & Company
S. R. Shutt shares his thoughts on the artistry of Grayson Hall, playfully inspired by Wallace Stevens’ short verse cycle, Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

Dead Celebrity I will Sorely Miss of the Day – The Grayson Hall edition
The "hopelessly unhip blogger and bikini model" says Grayson Hall was the "BADDEST VAMPIRE LOVIN’ FOX THERE WILL EVER BE."

7 or 8 things I know about Her
Biographer R.J. Jamison summarizes the mystique of Grayson Hall

Hoffman/Lambert: The Doctor and The Vampire
Jessica Dwyer talks about women who are drawn to the dark side, and what Julia Hoffman's character has to say about that strange fascination.

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:




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