DARK SHADOWS is one of those rare, demographic-busting phenomena that comes along once in a generation. How many television shows can claim housewives, college students and monster kids as their fan base? It was a show followed with equal gusto by magazines like Tiger Beat, TV Guide and Famous Monsters of Filmland, which probably presented both challenges and opportunities for ABC's marketing department.
Below are scans (and a transcript) from a 1969 issue of CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN detailing the make-up process that transformed actor Jonathan Frid into Barnabas Collins. The feature seems like a little bit of a rush job ... the overall package suggests that the editors weren't yet sure if DARK SHADOWS was fully in their wheelhouse.
Castle of Frankenstein, #13
That 175-year-old Victorian villain, Barnabas Collins, of the afternoon soaper “Dark Shadows,” has been playing a vampire for over a year now, and the ladies love it.
Conducted in a serious “high camp” fashion, “Dark Shadows” is turning into a shrine for Barnabas, a tall, gaunt, sad and soulful character.
It’s a puzzling success story for Yale actor Jonathan Frid who has found himself acting on afternoon TV with two fangs that he pops into place before striking.
The name, Jonathan Frid, is enough to turn the head. It’s a far superior name for a vampire than Barnabas Collins, and if Frid develops his macabre talents, he might make the world of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.
The time is ripe for a first-class villain in show business. Neville Brand’s powerful leathered face frightened folks as Al Capone, but few others are around to strike a little old-fashioned terror into hearts. Frid looks as if he could play a cultivated monster, giving a good scare. He’s developing his talent in the afternoon before stepping up in class.
“We take Barnabas very seriously,” Frid admits. “The idea was to jazz up the show When I came in.”
The way Frid plays Collins in a polished, witty Victorian style, the viewers develop sympathy for the poor, sick man, rather than turn away in horror. Barnabas’ hangup concerns an old love, Josette, and he’s forever hopeful of finding her. He keeps trying to recreate Josette’s image in a modern girl. The way things are going, Barnabas’s search for Josette seems endless and the fans will put up with the wildest versions. Even director Lela Swift refuses to worry about story inconsistencies knowing the audience will justify the gaps.
“I play Barnabas as a human,” says Frid. “Then, anything do is heightened as a vampire.”
Yaleman Frid has been playing villains since college, as training for the 175-year-old blood lover. Character acting takes seasoning, and Frid didn’t impress Broadway scouts right off the bat in college productions. He hit the road, working in San Diego’s Shakespeare Festival’ touring Ray Milland in “Hostile Witness,” summering at Stratford, Conn.
The part of Collins was experimental and was only supposed to last three weeks. Frid admits to shaky early footing.
“I improved eventually, but at first things were very tenuous.”
Mail has changed the entire situation. Admirers claim he has more sex appeal than Bela Lugosi, and fan clubs are almost, vociferous in ardent-letters. There are also fans who write of other-world contacts.
One remembers meeting Frid back in 1233.
Balmy days are ahead for Frid, he can do no wrong, other than lose a hold on his fangs.
“We generally leave time for me to run across the stage and slip my two teeth on,” says Frid. But, not long ago I came into the key shot with them rolling about in my mouth. I feverishly tried to fit them into, place. My victim was in hysterics at the clicking of dentures, but I had to dig in anyway for the coup de grace.”