Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Excerpt: REMEMBERING JONATHAN FRID, Part 1

Guy Haines and Jonathan Frid.

DARK SHADOWS has always had a unique relationship with its fans. Unlike other cult properties, the people involved with creating the original television series has never kept their audience at a chilly distance. Actor Jonathan Frid, who played the vampire Barnabas Collins on the series, is the paradoxical embodiment of this special relationship: He was a man who cared little for celebrity and was highly protective of his personal life, but still managed to become lifelong friends with many of his DARK SHADOWS fans. Earlier this year, Nancy Kersey and Helen Samaras edited a collection of essays written by some of the people who knew him best. Among them is Guy Haines, who contributed a piece titled "One Man in His Time Plays Many Parts" to the book, titled  REMEMBERING JONATHAN FRID. This past weekend, Haines posted the original, unedited text from his essay on Facebook, and has allowed me to publish this except below. Look for part 2 later this week.


One Man in His Time Plays Many Parts

By GUY HAINES

It was on a Thursday in July 1991, the day before the Los Angeles Dark Shadows Festival was to begin. I was showing my brother, Larry, and several friends around the hotel area in which the Festival events would be held. Larry was not a big Dark Shadows fan and this was his first, and likely his only, Festival experience. As we entered one of the doors near the front of the enormous ball room, I cautioned Larry to be quiet as Jonathan Frid was in the room preparing to rehearse for one of his Festival performances. Although we first met in very briefly in 1983, I had come to know Jonathan well since 1985 and Larry wanted to meet him. We found most of the room to be dark, except for several bright lights shining on a nearly empty stage. Partially blinded by the lights, we hesitated, unable to see anyone else in the room. "No one's here", I thought. And then, suddenly, cheerfully, a familiar voice rang out, echoing off of the walls of the huge, unoccupied room: "Well, hello there, Guy Haines!"

And there it is. For me, whenever I think of Jonathan Frid, whenever I am asked to stir up my memories and tell my stories and share my experiences with this wonderful man who had been a legend to so many of us as we were growing up, this friendly greeting, "Well, hello there, Guy Haines" is my starting off point. For all of the time I spent with this funny, cranky, witty, compassionate, generous and loving man, I will always firstly and lastly remember him best by his simple greeting to me on that day from behind the stage lights. In fact, years after relating this experience to other Dark Shadows fans, some of them greet me to this day with the same endearing phrase, "Well, hello there, Guy Haines!"

I've often related how I came to discover Dark Shadows. Before the show even debuted in the afternoon of June 27, 1966, I had seen the commercial showing Victoria Winters walking away from the huge, dark mansion, with the narrator suggesting she might meet an untimely end at the bottom of Widow's Hill. I vaguely remember watching the first episode but it didn't grab me (which is probably why I remember the commercial more clearly than the episode), so I didn't watch the show again until, a year later in August 1967 when my cousin, John, told me that his girl friend regularly watched a soap opera with a vampire on it. "A VAMPIRE!!!" I exclaimed. "Which soap?" "Dark Shadows", John replied. "His name is Barnabas." This was on a Saturday. Oh my gosh! I would have to wait nearly 48 hours before I could catch my first glimpse of the fiend (well, he was a fiend at that point of the show) who was to become my all-time favorite vampire. Little did I imagine then, at the impressionable age of 12, that in the (then) distant future, the man playing this vampire would become a treasured friend. As I watched this fascinating character on our old black and white TV, with his fancy aristocratic silk robe and those unforgettable spike-like bangs (that some call spider-like but had always put me in the mind of the wing of a bat), I knew that I was hooked and that my weekday afternoons would never be the same. I wanted to find out about this character, this man who was ranting about hating two men, a "Burke" and a "Jeremiah". I wanted to find out about the interesting looking woman, wearing a lab coat, who seemed equally mesmerized by the man she called Barnabas. But, as much as I wanted to find out about these characters who were so new to me along their intriguing plots, I also fostered a curiosity regarding the actors who played them, particularly, the man who played this angry, tortured creature, Barnabas.

Watching the credits roll up for the first time, I made note of the name: Jonathan Frid. "Frid", I thought to myself. "Unusual name. Never heard it before. Sounds… interesting. And, somehow, appropriate." In those days of no internet and no fan literature, in those early days of Dark Shadows, there was little if any way of gathering information on such a relatively obscure (at that time) actor. One day, however, in a tiny little grocery store in my home town that was owned by my third cousin, I happened upon a soap opera magazine (this type of magazine had never interested me before, of course), in which there was a page devoted to the actors of Dark Shadows. Apparently, I didn't discover this magazine until late 1967 or early 1968 because one of the actors was Lara Parker. By then, of course, Barnabas and Jonathan Frid were well established in the show. I purchased the magazine and devoured the short article, memorizing the limited details of each actor's history. Jonathan Frid, I read, was a Shakespearean actor from Canada! A fascinating but small piece of a growing puzzle. I clipped the photo of Jonathan (as himself, not Barnabas) and kept it in my wallet for many years.

Guy with Jonathan's cane on a balcony of Seaview Terrace.
Dark Shadows, of course, ended in April 1971. Several of the actors went on to do TV shows and films. But, where, I wondered, is Jonathan Frid? I did catch his very brief performance as a mute butler in "TheDevil's Daughter". Yet, I found little more than a brief paragraph or two in soap magazines that updated me on his whereabouts. Then, in 1978 I discovered Dark Shadows fandom and thereby found much more detailed information as to what Jonathan Frid had been up to since the demise of Dark Shadows. I subscribed to the fanzines and newsletters and read about the fan gatherings, known as the Shadowcons, that were held in the Los Angeles area each year. I kept note of the Shadowcon guests each year, but had little interest in attending because Jonathan Frid didn't attend them. In fact, Jonathan seemed to have disappeared into South America somewhere, apparently choosing to avoid the spotlight. Despite a small feature on Entertainment Tonight about an appearance Jonathan made at a disco in New York, there seemed to be little hope of his stepping out of the shadows of his retirement. That is, until two weeks before the 1982 Shadowcon, when a special Shadowgram announcement was made that Jonathan Frid was going to attend the convention. Unfortunately, two weeks was not enough notice for me to attend Shadowcon that year. But when it was confirmed that he would be attending the 1983 Shadowcon, I vowed to be there.

Shadowcon VII (1983) was the first Dark Shadows convention for not only myself, but other of my long-time Dark Shadows friends, including Mary Overstreet, Kathleen Reynolds, Dave Brown, and Jim Pierson. I was one of the early videophiles, having bought my second home video camera just before the convention. Because of a misunderstanding with the Shadowcon committee, I left my video camera at home. But fortunately, I was able to use my friend Jonathan Gleich's Betamax camera to record much of the festivities, including a reading of Shakespeare by Jonathan Frid. This was the first I'd seen the man in person and I was in awe. I didn't have a tripod and it's a wonder that I was able to capture any of the performance at all, as my hands were trembling in Mr. Frid's presence! When it was time for autographs, I asked Jonathan (Gleich) to videotape me meeting Jonathan Frid for the first (and for all I knew, the only) time. Nervously, I edged up the table and slid him a photograph that I had purchased. It was a photo of Barnabas from "House of Dark Shadows", angrily looking up at the viewer. Jonathan, after having given me a friendly greeting, studied the picture. I think he particularly liked it because Barnabas was not baring his fangs. "I don't know where you folks find these pictures", he stated. I nervously told him "Oh, the dealer's room is full of them." I don't know if he was simply making conversation or actually wasn't aware of the multitude of photos of himself in the dealers room. But I do know that at least from that point on, he would always make it a point to visit the dealer's room for each convention that he attended. As I walked away from my childhood idol, the video camera caught a dream-like, enthralled look on my face, as if I were truly the victim of some will-sapping kiss from a vampire! After coming to my senses, I took the Betamax camera and caught other Barnabas fans with the same look on their faces, including that of Jim Pierson as he met Jonathan Frid for the first time, obtaining several autographs.

During that autograph session, Jonathan was presented with a framed original portrait of himself by Dark Shadows fan artist, Anne-Marie Erental. This portrait eventually hung over the television in Jonathan's NYC apartment and later, in his home in Canada. Later that weekend, during the cast reunion, Jonathan delighted us with many stories of his days on Dark Shadows. He related one story wherein the Dark Shadows writers had come to a stalemate in a particular storyline. They wanted to expand the plot on some particular situation that had occurred on the show a year or so previously. Yet, none of the writers could remember the details of the former storyline. The writers asked various staff, including the production team and the actors, yet no one could give them the information they needed to proceed with their new stories. Then, someone suggested that they go down to the street and ask the kids who gathered at the door every day to see the actors come and go from the studio. Immediately after being asked, these Dark Shadows kids came up with the forgotten plot information! The writers were able to proceed with their storyline. Jonathan felt happy to give an example of how the Dark Shadows creative team and the Dark Shadows fans had been mutually beneficial to each other. When the actors opened up to questions, someone asked Jonathan which of Barnabas' lady loves he personally would have liked to have seen Barnabas end up with. As the fan recounted some of the choices (Josette, Vicki, Maggie, Julia, Roxanne) Jonathan took several seconds and mulled over the answer. But, before he was forced to decide, a gorgeous Lara Parker leaned over towards him with that vengeful/burning-blue eyes/scorned Angelique look, causing Jonathan to stop in his tracks and joke "Shame on you for asking that!"

 Later, at the post convention banquet, I was chatting with Robert Rodan when I saw scores of flashbulbs going off at the other end of the room. Later, I discovered that Jonathan Frid had borrowed my friend Jonathan Gleich's wolf's head cane and Mr. Frid and John Karlen were doing a bit of Barnabas-Willie schtick, including a dance routine and the inevitable "Wille! You betrayed me!" cane beating. At the end of Shadowcon VII, there was a meeting of some of the founders of the convention with news that there were plans for an east coast convention - a Dark Shadows Festival - to be held that coming October. I had no illusions that I would ever be seeing Jonathan again, yet I hoped that he might consider attending these East coast Festivals, which would be more convenient for me to attend.

Jonathan with the astonished Dallas Chili's waitress who was originally from Newport, Rhode Island. She knew that the house that served as Collinwood was in Newport and was familiar with Dark Shadows.

Jonathan did not attend the first Dark Shadows Festival in Newark, New Jersey in 1983. However, his presence was strongly felt. I was particularly struck by some photos that were shared of a picnic that Jonathan had attended on the grounds of Lyndhurst, the Jay Gould estate in Tarrytown, New York, that served as "Collinwood" for the films "House of Dark Shadows" and "Night of Dark Shadows". Jonathan gathered there with a small group of fans and posed for casual pictures as if he were a member of the family. He was even comfortable enough to remove his shirt on what must have been a hot day. The fans also found the nearby ruins of the Spratt Mansion, which served as "the Old House" on the show. This wonderful structure burned to the ground in 1969 but several pieces of its foundation could still be seen in these photographs. And although I wasn't there for this picnic, I'm sure that Jonathan had a particularly funny story to share about the Old House, a story that he more than once shared with the fans at the Festivals.


The following year, it had been announced that Jonathan Frid would be attending the second Dark Shadows Festival in Newark, New Jersey that fall. He was even preparing a special one-man show that would be the highlight of the affair. During the summer months, Jonathan had desired to perform his new show, which he called "Genesis of Evil", for small test audiences, mostly groups of Dark Shadows fans. Jonathan had requested that someone come and videotape this rough draft of his show. I was the only east coast person that the ladies who were running the Dark Shadows Festivals knew who owned a video camera. So, on June 2, 1984, I was phoned by Ann Wilson and asked if I would like to drive up to her home in Maplewood, New Jersey, and videotape something very special.  It was a bit difficult for me to get off of work (I remember that my boss, Connie, agreed to work for me and it inconvenienced her so much that it caused her to cry…. I owe her BIG for that favor), but I was able to be there at Ann's home for the show on June 9, 1984! What a time it was! There were only about 8 of us. I remember my friend, Veda Naylor was there, along with Patrick and Josette Garrison. Jonathan was quite enthusiastic about the show and wanted feedback about what we may have liked and/or disliked. He posed for pictures with us and enjoyed another picnic meal with his fans. He asked me if I could obtain some lights for his Festival performance, along with a backdrop of blue. Of course, I assured him I would get him anything that he needed. And so, in the autumn of 1984, I drove up to Newark with several friends, two huge, heavy stage lights rented from a theater in my hometown, and an eight foot long roll of seamless blue paper, tied to the roof of my tiny Dodge Colt!

It was at this Festival that Jonathan adopted Dave Brown and myself as his "official videographers". We were were the only ones allowed to videotape his performances. We would send him copies of each performance immediately after each Festival and he would always send us a hand-written thank you note, full of compliments and critique. I remember how meticulous Jonathan was with the lighting and the back drop of that first show. He performed it for one or two smaller groups before he performed for the Festival at large. For "Genesis of Evil", he incorporated some Dark Shadows fan fiction, one particular story depicting the meeting of Barnabas Collins and Edgar Allen Poe. Jonathan's enthusiasm to entertain his fans with these shows was growing by leaps and bounds. 

A day or two prior to the third Dark Shadows Festival in 1985, Jonathan had invited a group of us to his New York City apartment in order to perform for us! I'll never forget taking the train from Newark to the World Trade Center and catching a cab to Jonathan's 18th Street apartment building. He greeted us at the door with a devilish growl, `a la Boris Karloff, and said "Welcome! You're just in time for the holy hour! It's starting!" What he meant was that we had gotten there just in time to catch that day's episode of Dark Shadows, which was airing on the New Jersey Network, New Jersey's Public TV group. What a thrill it was for us (Dave Brown, Kathleen Resch, Marcy Robin, Maria Barbosa, Melody Clark, Billy McKinley, Debbie Kreuter, Jim Pierson, Jeff Thompson, Carol Maschke, David McGriff and myself) to watch Dark Shadows with Jonathan Frid in his apartment! And there, above the TV, hung Ann-Marie Erental's portrait of Jonathan! Jonathan treated us to some sangria and finger sandwiches, aided by his across-the-hall neighbor, Mel. It was a bit strange to see "Barnabas" washing and drying the dishes so my friend, David, snapped a picture. Later, Jonathan showed us his beautiful, large scrap books, containing photos and mementos from many years of Dark Shadows-related events and fan mail. There was even a letter in his scrap book from a young girl by the name of Kathleen Resch that had been sent to Jonathan back when in the days when Dark Shadows was originally airing!

Guy in Jonathan's NYC apartment with the Anne-Marie Erental portrait.
I suppose my most memorable (and surreal) time with Jonathan Frid was the infamous 1985 Memorial Day weekend in Newport, Rhode Island. The Dark Shadows Festival folks had learned that Jonathan was going up to Newport with some friends for some weekend fun. The Festival folks asked Jonathan if he would have time to do some video shots in front of Seaview Terrace, the mansion in Newport that depicted "Collinwood" on "Dark Shadows". Jonathan readily agreed and since I had been able to videotape him at Ann Wilson's home the previous year, I was asked if I would like to ride up to Newport with Jonathan Frid for the weekend.  As the reader can guess, they didn't have to twist my arm! And so, on the morning of May 24, 1985, I rode with Ann Wilson in her car into the city to pick Jonathan up at his apartment. He was waiting for us and after jumping into the car, asked if Ann could stop at a little corner grocery shop so he could pick up a newspaper. After obtaining his paper, we were on our way. As Jonathan silently scanned his paper, I wondered if the entire trip to Newport was going to be as quiet as this beginning. After several moments however, Jonathan became excited when he found the article that he had apparently been searching for. "Oh, listen to this," he exclaimed. "We've got a mention, we've got a mention here!" He went to on read a brief article about the recent retrial of the infamous Claus Von Bulow and really got excited when the article mentioned Claus' former paramour, Alexandra Isles. He read, "Ms. Isles, formerly a soap opera actress from the sixties serial, Dark Shadows, is being sought to return to testify in the retrial of Von Bulow. It is feared that without her testimony, his former conviction may be overturned." Jonathan was truly excited to share this article and thus began a nearly four hour road trip in which Jonathan talked nearly non-stop about so many wonderful, interesting things. I was so tempted to turn the camera on him for the entire trip in order to capture these memories. Still, I suppose that would have been pretty rude.

Some of the things that he talked about concerned his education at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and at Yale (he pointed out a tower of one of the Yale buildings in the distance when we passed by New Haven, Connecticut.) Jonathan also spoke of his childhood and how he and his young cousins would like to "play church". Jonathan almost always played the part of the pastor, most likely Scottish Presbyterian. Jonathan would make his "parishioners" sit on the staircase of the family home while he delivered a fire and brimstone sermon to them.

After having made our way through most of Connecticut, at one point Jonathan asked Ann if we could please have a "pit stop". Ann said, "Yes, yes" and kept on driving. After passing two or three exits, Jonathan again asked, "How about that pit stop, Ann?" Ann replied again, "Yes, yep!" and kept on driving. After two or three more exits had been passed, Jonathan raised his voice and loudly stated, "Ann! I need a pit stop! NOW!" Ann turned off the first exit after that and we followed a sign that indicated a diner was about a mile down a lonely, tree-lined stretch of rural road. When we finally sighted the diner, I said "There it is Jonathan… oh no, it's closed." The windows had been boarded up. Ann started to say she could drive a little further but Jonathan said "No! Go ahead and pull over here!" Ann stopped the car and Jonathan jumped out and disappeared into the bushes for a minute or two. Of course, when I later related this story to some of my "Dark Shadows" friends, they asked me if I had taken any pictures! Wise guys!

Upon arriving in Newport, we dropped Jonathan off at his hotel. His friends had not yet arrived and I went into the hotel to help him check in. I noticed that this was a brand new hotel and that work was still ongoing, with unfinished areas in the lobby and elsewhere. The young lady at the desk told Jonathan that his room was not quite ready, leaving him no choice but to sit in the lobby (neither of us saw an open lounge in the hotel). I wanted to say to the young lady "Don't you know who this is??!! Get a room for Mr. Jonathan Frid! IMMEDIATELY!!" However, Jonathan assured me he would be quite alright and that Ann and I should go do what we had to do and return for him in several hours. Ann and I drove to Salve Regina College and met with a representative, Mr. Richard Landino, who accompanied us to the massive mansion, Seaview Terrace. There, he showed us around and we gave him an idea of when we would be at the mansion during the weekend and what we intended to do. Later, we picked up Jonathan and returned to Seaview Terrace. I turned on the video camera and he began the informal but historic tour of "Collinwood". Jonathan must have brushed up on his history of the house prior to our visit as many of the facts and anecdotes that he shared were unscripted.

Surprisingly, this was only Jonathan's second visit to the fabled house, having stopped by only three years before to briefly peer through a fence, catching a fleeting glimpse of the structure before a barking dog sent him on his way. (As he put it, "I thought I was truly going to be bitten within the environs of the mansion!") Throughout the gorgeous afternoon, Jonathan jovially treated us to a multitude of stories, comedy routines, and little asides for his fellow actors in anticipation of them perhaps seeing the finished video someday. He was particularly mischievous when he dared DS fans (who would eventually see this video) to guess which of his DS co-stars he was imitating when he walked up to a certain spot and, with a very obvious glance to the ground, indicated this co-star's habit of glancing down to make sure that they were on their mark. Although Jonathan never "outed" Grayson Hall as the mark-obsessed Dark Shadows co-star, he certainly seemed to be throwing down a playful gauntlet for her in possible anticipation of Grayson's joining him on stage at some future Dark Shadows Festival.

Alas, this whimsical plan was never to be as Grayson passed away just three months later. Jonathan, apparently, was not aware that she was gravely ill. As the day passed, Jonathan tirelessly continued to entertain before the camera. It was simply fantastic to see "Barnabas" pop in at certain points, such as when he told the viewers to ignore the fact that he was out in the sunlight. Not only had he brushed up on the history of the house, but he also was quite up to date on his Dark Shadows story lines, as he related recently seeing (on a New Jersey Network Dark Shadows episode) Barnabas and Willie looking for Adam amidst the rocks at the foot of Widow's Hill. Our friend, Paul Sousa, had arrived and was giving us even more information on the history of the house. It was Paul who stood off camera and threw Barnabas' cane to Jonathan (taking at least five trials) for a cute, funny little video skit that was entirely Jonathan's idea!

Guy with Jonathan in Jonathan's NYC apartment.
Later, Ann and I dined with Jonathan and his two friends, Jack and Eduardo, at the Black Pearl, which is the Newport wharf-side restaurant that served as "The Blue Whale" on Dark Shadows. Ignoring our objections, Jonathan insisted on treating us to the meal. Later, back at our respective hotels, Jonathan, Ann and I were astonished, after having turned on the 11 o'clock news, to see the face of "Victoria Winters" on every single news channel! The Von Bulow retrial was big news in Newport, of course, and at this point the big question in each TV news story was "Where is Alexandra Isles?" The next day, I asked Jonathan if he thought that we might run into Alexandra, walking around the house in a daze, repeating the words, "I don't understand." It was a surreal weekend in that regard alone!


After breakfasting with Jonathan the next morning, it was back off to the mansion for more taping. Around noon, Jack and Eduardo joined us briefly. Jack's car was a classic Jaguar that he had named "Daphne". Jonathan asked me to shoot him and Jack in a skit with "Daphne". Jack slowly drove the car down the street at the foot of the Seaview property, with his tape player blasting out a stately processional worthy of a royal wedding. At the same time, Jonathan was standing up inside the car, his upper body poking through the sun roof. As they made their way down the street with the royal music blaring, Jonathan proudly (between guffaws) waved his Barnabas cane at bystanders who seemed to be enjoying the show. It was a proud moment for Jonathan, a subject of her majesty, the Queen! Jonathan later walked down to the Cliffwalk with us and told stories of "poor Josette" and "the Widows".

He had just bought himself a new camera and was endlessly taking pictures of us and the scenery, probably more pictures than we took of him. At one point, he accidentally stood in poison ivy, which was not good since he was not wearing any socks. Later, we shot some scenes behind the Black Pearl of Jonathan sitting in a small boat and telling stories about Barnabas biting the Collinsport "docksides". He also reminisced about one of his favorite Dark Shadows scenes, the dueling metaphor conversation between Barnabas and Burke that took place in the Blue Whale.

Towards evening, Ann and I returned to get some pictures of the house at dusk. Earlier, Jonathan had blown me away when he entrusted me with the care of his cane for the night! Yes, THE CANE, the same one that he had used as Barnabas on Dark Shadows! Just as the sun was setting, I told Ann that I had to take a brief walk alone. And so, with the familiar wolf's head cane firmly in my grip, I proudly strode around the magnificent mansion in the purple dusk, imagining myself to be Barnabas Collins. I glanced up at a light coming from a window and wondered how Barnabas felt, waiting below the window to possibly catch a glimpse of Victoria Winters. I imagined running into Adam, or Chris Jennings in werewolf form, yet was confident that this powerful, magical talisman would protect me! I was safe, even from Angelique herself! And I remember feeling very deeply at that time that I wanted to share with ALL Dark Shadows fans everywhere (including you, the reader) the wonder of these magical moments!

Jonathan with Guy and his friends, Diane and Wes, backstage after a performance of "Arsenic and Old Lace".

On our last day in Newport, we helped Jack polish "Daphne" for the Newport Jaguar Festival, a parade of Jaguars which started in Fort Adams park and ended in the parking lot next to the Black Pearl. It was fun chatting with Jonathan's friends, Jack and Eduardo. Jack was very proud of his motor car and was comparing notes with the owners of other Jags. Eduardo, along with his parents, had escaped from Castro's Cuba. Eduardo befriended Jonathan in the 1970s and accompanied him on his extended visit to South and Central America (including Mexico, Paraguay and Panama) acting as his translator. Dark Shadows had become very popular in reruns in those countries in the 1970s. Eduardo confirmed the story of how one day the president of Paraguay was making a long speech which cut into the Dark Shadows time slot and was suddenly cut off in mid-sentence, just in time for the show to begin. This may or may not have been because the president's wife was a big fan of Dark Shadows. Nevertheless, Eduardo said she was quite taken in by the actor's charm when she and her husband finally met Jonathan Frid!

After the Jaguar Festival ended, Jonathan wanted to eat at a restaurant called "The Mooring". There, we said our good-byes to Jack and Eduardo. We left Newport and made the drive to Norwalk, Connecticut in time to videotape Jonathan giving us an outside tour of the Lockwood-Mathews mansion. This great house served as the monastery on St. Eustace Island in the climax of "House of Dark Shadows". Here, Jonathan shared with us several more memorable stories, including his recollections of having a few drinks with John Karlen (Willie Loomis) during a break in filming "House of Dark Shadows". The actors and production crew knew that scores of Dark Shadows fans, mostly kids, had gathered around the house and were lurking in the bushes, trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite vampire and his henchman. John walked out onto a small balcony high in the rear of the house and, knowing that there were many young Dark Shadows fans watching him, screamed in a dictator-like voice, "You want to see Bah-no-BAS??? Very well! You shall see your Bah-no-BAS!!!" Therewith, John coaxed Jonathan out onto the balcony, bringing a huge cheer and applause from the fans in the bushes. Jonathan also related a story that some young fans actually got inside the house during the filming of the climatic death scene finale! Dan Curtis was directing and felt it would be futile to turn up the lights and try to locate all of these hidden fans.

So, Dan simply decided to go with a warning, stating, "OK, kids. We know you're in here. If you stay quiet, we won't have any problems. But, if anyone makes noise of any kind…" Jonathan inferred that the fate Dan Curtis had in mind for anyone who interrupted his film was far worse than being bitten by a mere vampire! Not too long afterwards Ann and I were dropping Jonathan off at his 18th Street apartment, leaving behind one of the best weekends of my life! By the way, there is a rarely seen made-for-TV film entitled "Dream House" which stars John Schneider. It's about a country guy who comes to New York City and falls in love with a sophisticated city girl. He drives a pickup truck with a crude trailer attachment in which he sleeps. In several scenes, his vehicle is parked by (and he is shown waiting outside) his new girlfriend's apartment building… which is depicted by Jonathan Frid's very same apartment building!

Later that year at the Festival, I introduced a special showing of the video we'd shot of Jonathan Frid visiting Seaview Terrace. It was very enthusiastically received by the fans. I gave Jonathan a copy and got some feedback from him. "I wish I'd worn a different color shirt," he said. "With my belly sticking out, I look like a Buddah!" Because Jonathan didn't care for the way the video turned out, I don't believe it was ever shown at another Festival.

Guy and Jonathan during the autograph session after his performance at Hofstra University in November 1998. He had fallen during rehearsal and hurt his leg. I know he was in pain yet he stayed and met with each fan who wanted to get an autograph.
In the early years of the Dark Shadows Festivals, there were three other Dark Shadows conventions held in New York City called Manhattan Shadows. I attended the second and third of these, in 1985 and 1986 respectively. On the night before the 1986 Manhattan Shadows, Jonathan invited several of us to his apartment so he could go over his show with us. I was staying with my friend, William "Billy" McKinley and his family out on Long Island. Billy's dad drove us into the city and dropped us at Jonathan's apartment. There we met Mary O'Leary with whom Jonathan had founded Clunes Associates, Jonathan's production company. Jonathan's neighbor, Mel, had helped him prepare a small, delicious meal for us. During the meal, somehow the subject of "The Wizard of Oz" came up and Jonathan mentioned that Margaret Hamilton, who played the "Wicked Witch of the West" was his neighbor and that he would see her occasionally at a nearby small grocery store. I often think of how wonderful it would have been to have the portrayers of these two iconic characters, "Barnabas Collins" and the "Wicked Witch of the West", posed together in a photo! After the meal, we did a trial video of his current show, allowing Jonathan time to give me special instructions for camera angles and close-ups.

The next day we were back in the city at the Manhattan Shadows celebration. Jonathan made himself quite at home at these venues, often displaying his playful side. At this celebration, just before he was to be introduced, there was a brief fan skit performed. The skit was clever and cute but didn't quite get the audience applause that it deserved. Jonathan noted this and, without waiting to be introduced, ran from the back of the room (where he'd been watching the skit, largely unnoticed) roaring and flailing his hands, all the while scaring several of the attendees out of their wits!

In July 1986 I journeyed to Dallas, Texas for the third Dallas Dark Shadows Festival. Dark Shadows had been very successful in syndication there and so the fans in that area were able to put together their own Dark Shadows Festivals, affiliated with the bi-coastal Festivals. The actor guests for the event were Diana Millay, Terrayne Crawford and Jonathan. It was a very relaxed Festival overall. Jonathan was well received in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, his first visit there in many years. He was very open to fan interaction and even granted a pool-side interview, conducted by my friend Heidi Helmick, for a Monkee fanzine. Jonathan told me he was somewhat fascinated by Heidi as she seemed to him to have the essence of a lady from an earlier time, perhaps a previous century. I think Jonathan enjoyed meeting fans overall, as long as they were honest and not pretentious.

On the Sunday evening after the Festival, the committee, along with Jonathan, Diana and Terrayne, dined at a Chili's restaurant. Just before she took our orders, we learned that our server had moved to Dallas from Newport, Rhode Island. We asked her if she'd ever heard of "Dark Shadows" to which she replied, "Oh yes, I know that the mansion for that show is in Newport. I used to hang out at the Black Pearl which they used for the show, too." As she moved around the table taking our orders, we continued to ask her "Dark Shadows"-related questions. She probably wondered why so many of these people were interested in an old, cancelled TV show. Just before she was to take Jonathan's order, we asked her if she remembered the name of the vampire on "Dark Shadows". She replied,"Barnabas, wasn't it?" And just at that moment, she looked at the next person to place their order found herself face to face with Jonathan! We all had a great laugh as we watched her jaw drop and she pointed to Jonathan and said, "You're Barnabas!!!" After the meal, I snapped a photo of the astonished server with Jonathan. That was a hoot, as Jonathan liked to say!

The day after that Dallas Dark Shadows Festival ended, Festival Committee Member Dave Brown hosted a "Twentieth Anniversary Dark Shadows Party" in his large home in nearby Richardson, Texas. Dave and his wife, Hazel and their two daughters, Jenny and Lori, welcomed the Dark Shadows Festival committee members along with Special Guest, Jonathan Frid. Jonathan seemed to enjoy his evening with us, chatting about anything and everything, posing for pictures (including allowing a little stuffed bat to "bite" him on the neck) and lounging by the jacuzzi! It was a very special evening!

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Jonathan Frid was thought to be something of a mysterious figure: He disliked the celebrity spotlight, he never aspired to stardom and seldom spoke about his private life. What made him tick? What kind of a man was he? From his early days on the stage to his time as vampire Barnabas Collins on the cult television classic Dark Shadows, REMEMBERING JONATHAN FRID gathers friends, family and colleagues to share their insights and memories of this complex and talented actor, illustrated throughout with over 130 rare and unseen photographs. Get it on AMAZON.

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