Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hear Jonathan Frid read from WAR AND PEACE, 1970

Jonathan Frid was absent from the set of DARK SHADOWS on Dec. 2, 1970. The episode filmed that day saw Quentin Collins, Desmond Collins and Lamar Trask dueling in court over charges of witchcraft, but Frid's attentions were momentarily elsewhere: A marathon reading of Leo Tolstoy’s "War and Peace" produced by WBAI radio in New York. The reading lasted an unthinkable four and a half days, a production that paused only for music breaks and reports on the Vietnam War.

"The only planned interruptions will be the News at 5:30 p.m., the War Summary at 10:45 p.m. (weekdays only), and short 'breathers'" of recorded music every few hours," the announcer explained at the start of the program. "With these exceptions, 'War and Peace' will be read continuously, 24 hours a day. If our calculations are correct, the whole thing should end about (five) days from now, at which point we will either suffocate under 1,455 pages of Russian confetti,or comply with your shouts for 'encore.'"

The cast was a who's who of talent residing in New York, including such personalities as Dustin Hoffman, Ann Bancroft, James Earl Jones, Stacey Keach, Roscoe Lee Browne, Buck Henry and almost 200 others.

Frid's reading covered pages 1428 to 1437 of the book and aired near the end of the broadcast. For the record, the production relied on the Signet paperback edition of "War and Peace," which was the first American translation of Tolstoy's novel. You can hear Frid's reading below.

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