Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I finally get to use "Monkees" and "Dark Shadows" in a headline

In the weeks leading up to the premiere of Dark Shadows in 1966, the show's cast made the usual promotional rounds to introduce the concept of the program to viewers. Louis Edmonds spoke about playing spies and Nazis, Joan Bennett braced reporters with her sardonic wit, while Alexandra Moltke was stuck chatting about her relative inexperience.

Nancy Barrett's promotional feature took a turn for the weird. The syndicated story featured headlines such as "Things Happen to Her," the interview reads like a David Lynch movie. Puppets make an expected appearance.

The story centers on the Broadway production of Pickwick starring Harry Secombe, in which Barrett had a small role. Barrett was part of the touring company, as well, but that's not why I've asked you here today. Also part of the Broadway production was future Monkee David Jones. This was in 1965, when both Jones and Barrett were a year away from joining the casts of two of the most iconic television series of the 1960s. If god made anything groovier, he kept it for himself.

Below is a Dark Shadows promotional interview with Barrett from 1966, as well as a few photos from the 1965 production of Pickwick.

Nancy Barrett was all wet in Broadway play "Pickwick"
Oct. 8, 1966

After sloshing around on theatre stages in six states, Nancy Barrett is now on dry, solid ground in ABC-TV's romantic-suspense series, “Dark Shadows" at 4 p.m. weekdays WFIL-TV, Channel 6.

She is blue-eyed and fragile, and if she is alluring as Carolyn Stoddard in the network's gothic-styled drama, she was all wet in the recent Broadway musical, "Pickwick."

"It was the ice rink,” said Nancy. “The thing was always melting, and before we came to the ice skating scene, the stage boards covering the rink got soaking wet. We slipped all over the place, and I figure that until we brought the show to New York, I was kicked in the shins 20 times. The dancers had it worst of all. When one fell, the rest went down like dominoes."

Things happen to Nancy Barrett, who is lovely but lacking — no red corpuscles. Maybe tired blood is the reason she couldn't catch the guy who robbed her of three suitcases.

"It was my first day in New York," she recalled, “and when I got back to my car I noticed that two suitcases were missing. I rushed off to get a cop, but I wasn't more than a few feet away when a man rushed to the car, grabbed the last piece of luggage and fled. Naturally, I never caught him."

This is a girl who met her husband under a puppet stage ("I crawled under the curtain and there he was"), choked her way through her first stage role ("I don't smoke, but in almost every scene I had to come on puffing like a chimney"), and who is currently portraying a character that is completely unlike her.

"Carolyn Stoddard is stubborn, impulsive, and a swinger," said Nancy. "My idea of a wild evening is having a quiet dinner and singing to a recording of La Boheme."

"Dark Shadows,” like all daytime serials, makes great demands on actors. The work is exhausting, requiring early cast calls and endless rehearsals until the day's show is finished. Then a run-through of following afternoon telecast with actors taking home the scripts for further study. In all, it is a 14-hour workday.

"Working in a serial, and meeting the same people day after day, is unlike anything in show business," said Nancy. "It is hard to step in and out of character because you begin to see them as friends, not actors. If the role I'm playing requires antagonism or even hate, I find it a very difficult thing to do."

Everyone in "Dark Shadows" reacts the same way, from the star, Joan Bennett, down to 10-year-old David Henesy. Recently, after a scene in which the youngster was tongue-lashed mercilessly, he walked ever to Nancy and said: "You know, you really yelled at me."

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