Jonathan Frid, who created the iconic role of Barnabas Collins in the soap opera, Dark Shadows, has died. The actor apparently fell in his home, was taken to the hospital, and ultimately died. The news was just released. As it turns out, Frid passed on Friday the 13th. He was 87.
Dark Shadows has a cult following that began when the soap originally aired on ABC from 1966 to 1971. The network drew ire when it canceled the daytime drama, and individual affiliates also took some heat when they began to stop showing the program even before the last network air date.
The series may be the only drama to have been released fully on VHS tapes and now on DVDs. There have been fan conventions throughout the years, and the show's stars are much beloved by fans. This includes Kathryn Leigh Scott, who actually revealed the news of Frid's death.
Frid was actually not part of the first storylines. His character was brought in later, in 1967, intended to be around only briefly, but Frid's unique look and style caught on with the fans. Soon, Dark Shadows was his show and just about all of the plots revolved around Barnabas in some way.
The gothic soap helped to promote many actors who went on to success in prime time shows and/or in other soaps, including Kate Jackson (Charlie's Angels), Roger Davis (Alias Smith and Jones), David Selby (Falcon Crest), Louis Edmunds (All My Children), John Karlen (Cagney and Lacey), Denise Nickerson (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), and Dana Elcar (MacGyver). Also notable is Alexandra Isles, who made news as the mistress of Claus von Bülow. Isles was actually the center of the story for the first year when her character of Victoria Winters arrives in Collinwood in the very first episode. Of course, always revered was Joan Bennett, who starred in the series throughout its run.
Frid was actually a very serious actor. The Canadian graduated from London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and also achieved a Masters' from Yale School of Drama in directing. He didn't always embrace his trademark character, but learned over time to realize how much the fans would always love Barnabas. His appearances at conventions were more sporadic than other regulars, but he did go, and when he did, he often performed readings for the crowd.
The actor's last on screen appearance will be in the new theatrical version of Dark Shadows that is scheduled to be released on May 11. In that film, Barnabas is played by Johnny Depp, whom Frid met while doing a cameo appearance in the film, along with Scott.
Frid was unmarried and leaves no survivors, save thousands of Dark Shadows lovers who will forever be thankful that he played a vampire and made him lovable.