Thursday, August 24, 2017

Jonathan Frid's Mona Lisa moment

This post is going to be big on photos and short on text. Which is OK, because it concerns a really big photo published in 1968 by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Lest history forget just how big a star Jonathan Frid was in the late '60s, here is all the photographic evidence you'll ever need of his celebrity. On July 28, 1968, the Inquirer published a full-page color poster of Frid. It was a Sunday edition and had been teased during the previous weeks by the newspaper in a series of house ads. To put things into perspective, the color photo of Frid, in full Barnabas Collins drag, was preceded in the previous Sunday edition by a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa."

And the hype didn't stop there. The July 28, 1968 edition was also accompanied by a banner across the front page proudly advertising the post, with Frid's name in a point size usually reserved for political scandals and wars.

Curiously, almost 50 years later, this image remains pretty rare. It's a great, moody piece of work by photographer Paul Wilson, and would have looked at home on any of MPI Home Video's many DVD releases ... yet I don't recall seeing it anywhere other than this poster. A similar photo, almost certainly from the same shoot, was used that same week with a TV Guide profile of Frid. A few years back, a reader suggested the photos were taken in April, 1968, possibly during the production of episode 476. That splash of blue across the top of the knot appears to be the same, anyway. I wonder what was used as a backdrop?

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