Monday, August 17, 2015

Jonathan Frid and Friend, 1970

A few weeks ago I found a curious package waiting for me in my mailbox.

I was headed to lunch, a baby in one arm and a diaper bag over the other. My goal for the day was nothing more or less than to get a slice if pizza with my little boy. My friend Nancy Kersey offered to help bolster my collection of DARK SHADOWS newspaper clippings to use here, and I was delighted to find it had arrived that day as I was headed to lunch.

I opened the envelope while waiting on my food and was stunned by the contents. Almost every newspaper clipping was material I'd never seen: new stories and interviews, new photos ... it was a delight to pour over these, even if I had to play defense for the next hour against the grabby hands of a one-year-old.

Some of the clippings had rough bits of paper still attached to the back, as if they'd once been glued to the pages of a scrapbook. And then I saw this note written at the top of one of the clippings:
"Dear Mrs. Frid. Pat spotted this article on your son John and we knew you would be interested. We are at Cape Cod for a couple of weeks and enjoying it very much. — George and Pat Lucas."
Yes, these clippings once belonged to Jonathan Frid.

It was a magical moment and the word "gratitude" doesn't fully express my appreciation for Nancy's gift. I'll be sharing these items here during the next few months, but thought I'd start off small with the photo you see above. It's Frid on the set of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS in 1970, chatting with an unidentified fan.

The accompanying interview is pretty good, too, and devotes a good deal of space to Frid's assistant Nancy Brown. But it's the tone of Frid's interview that was the most interesting to me, because it finds Frid beginning to lose patience with his status as figurehead of the DARK SHADOWS phenomenon. After four years on the job without anything resembling a traditional vacation, he was clearly getting tired of celebrity.

"I was never more unattractive to the public than at Norwalk," he says here, in a story published shortly before the release of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS in 1970. "The film was having problems, I was in a vile mood and there were those kids (someone said 4,000) everywhere. Heaven knows how they found out we were there."

Fans managed to infiltrate the set even during filming, he said, with a few dozen lurking in the shadows during Barnabas's death scene.

"I figured, so long as they're quiet, let them stay," he said. "They must have caught my look, because they didn't make a sound. And there was enough of the actor's ego left in me to appreciate an audience, so I was playing the whole bloody scene knowing 20 kids were watching. Afterwards, there were a few gasps and they scurried away like mice."

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