Monday, October 30, 2017

From the Vaults: Rare photos of Jonathan Frid

Believe it or not, the creators of DARK SHADOWS were never motivated to archive the show's promotional materials in any meaningful way. These days, businesses like Lucasfilm will keep professional librarians on staff to ensure the legacy of their work is maintained, but for DARK SHADOWS? Because of the perpetual flow of talent into the ABC studios, new marketing materials had relatively short shelf lives. Stories and actors changed so often that photos taken yesterday were rarely of any use tomorrow. Consequently, there was little reason to archive these photos, even during the show's prime.

After it's cancellation in 1971, those motivations disappeared entirely. DARK SHADOWS became a bullet point on the resumes of those involved, and the onus of maintaining the show's legacy fell to fans. Among those folks was Jim Pierson, a fan of the series who worked his way up to essentially become the chief archivist and marketing director for the DARK SHADOWS brand. Part of that job has been to formally locate misplaced marketing materials, such as the thousands of photos taken of the cast members over the years. This has been no small task. Many of the images that appeared in magazines and newspapers were taken by private photographers who weren't always inclined to hold onto every negative, slide or print. Many are photos were lost, others misplaced or labelled incorrectly. All you need to do is look at the strained packaging of the old DARK SHADOWS VHS collection to see how difficult it has been to find interesting, usable images from the series ... near the end, MPI Home Video was relying on such oddities as Conard Fowkes' headshot for the cover art for one tape. The well has a tendency to run dry.

But the search continues! Pierson has recently unearthed an interesting selection of photos of actor Jonathan Frid, images that span his entire career. He's shared with me headshots of Frid as an aspiring young actor, a few from his later year's as a performance artist, and these two shots taken from his days playing vampire Barnabas Collins. Seeing as how Halloween will be arriving in a few short hours, it felt right to share these images first. They were taken during the controversial "Leviathans" storyline, which places the photo's date at sometime during the end of 1969/early 1970. I suspect that some eagle-eyed DARK SHADOWS fan will recognize the tie he's wearing in the photos and be able to pinpoint a specific date for when the photos were taken. If you, feel free to share your speculation in the comments section below.

I have more rare photos of Frid, courtesy of Jim Pierson, that I'll be passing along in upcoming weeks. Happy Halloween!

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