GeekOut

Fans, colleagues remember 'Dark Shadows' star Jonathan Frid

Before "Angel," before "Vampire Diaries'" Damon and Stefan, and before "True Blood's" Bill, there was the original television vampire: Barnabas Collins.

Jonathan Frid, who portrayed the character on the soap opera/horror series, "Dark Shadows" from 1967 to 1971  - the film adaptation of which hits theaters on May 11 - died on Saturday at the age of 87.

Many fans first heard about the loss of Frid on Thursday, when his "Dark Shadows" co-star Kathryn Leigh Scott paid tribute to him on her website:

"I am so grateful to have worked with Jonathan, and to have known him as the charismatic, entertaining, complex and plain-spoken man that he was. What fun we had working together! He was irascible, irreverent, funny, caring, lovable and thoroughly professional, and in the end became the whole reason why kids 'ran home from school to watch' 'Dark Shadows.'

"I am so grateful that nearly five decades later, Jonathan, David Selby, Lara Parker and I were invited to play cameos in the new 'Dark Shadows,' directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. How wonderful for the four of us to work together again and celebrate the legacy of 'Dark Shadows.' I won’t ever forget the moment when the two Barnabas Collinses met, one in his late 80s and the other in his mid-40s, each with their wolf’s head canes. Jonathan took his time scrutinizing his successor’s appearance. 'I see you’ve done the hair,' Jonathan said to Johnny Depp, 'but a few more spikes.' Depp, entirely in character, replied, 'Yes, we’re doing things a bit differently.'"

A Frid family statement posted by Scott said:

"At a gathering of family and friends on April 18, the family remarked on John’s passing on Friday, April the 13th, and the fact that they were remembering him on April 18, the 45th anniversary of the broadcast of his first appearance at the door of Collinwood."

Don Frid, Jonathan's nephew told CNN:

"He was a happy person and he enjoyed what he did. It is important to know that he really gave his all to be part of the 'Dark Shadows' festivals over the last 5 years. He did it to make his fans happy. It was all about the fans."

Depp put out this statement:

"Jonathan Frid was the reason I used to run home from school to watch 'Dark Shadows.' His elegance and grace was an inspiration then and will continue to remain one forever more. When I had the honor to finally meet him, as he so generously passed the torch of Barnabas to me, he was as elegant and magical as i had always imagined. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. The world has lost a true original."

Horror fan magazine Fangoria was one of the many to pay tribute:

"During its first nine months, 'Dark Shadows' was in danger of cancellation. The vaguely 'Jane Eyre'-ish soap opera was admittedly different from other daytime dramas, but it wasn't particularly interesting, either. The tide began to turn when, in early 1967, the series stopped hinting at the supernatural and gave viewers a few bona fide ghosts. Then, Laura Collins, a character involved in a bitter child custody battle, was revealed to be a Phoenix, a fire creature from ancient Egyptian mythology.

"Viewers began to take notice, but it wasn't until Frid stepped into the role of Barnabas Collins in April of that year, that 'Dark Shadows' came into its own. Nothing like this character, or the actor who played him, had ever been seen on a daytime drama."

Badass Digest recounted:

"Much has been made of Mr. Frid's onscreen bloopers, but such was the nature of the show - it was live on tape, and no one was immune from a gaffe or two. Less talked about is how, if you kept watching, Mr. Frid seemed to settle into the role and gradually became more self-assured as the show's focus hopped between characters, centuries and dimensions. And when it all ended in 1971, the actor simply got on with his life, returning to the stage, appearing in very few other films (he starred in 'Seizure,' Oliver Stone's directorial debut), and making no secret of the fact that he never really understood just what got fans of Dark Shadows so worked up about him. He was the central figure of a phenomenon for which he seemed grateful, but simply couldn't get his head around."

The Dark Shadows News site wrote about Frid's later years:

"In time, Jonathan came to appreciate the enduring popularity of his 'Dark Shadows' work, attending many conventions, right up until last year's 45th anniversary celebrations in Brooklyn. Now in his 80s, he had taken to using his original wolf's-head cane from the show as a walking aid, no longer a memento, and though he tired easily, was happy to make the long journeys and oblige those original fans, still in awe of him four decades later."

Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles said:

"Over the years when I was a dealer of collectibles - I came across an enormous amount of 'Dark Shadows' material and the loyal fans that would scoop it all up loved this show and this man fiercely. My heart goes out to the many fans that I know are saddened at this news and to the people that knew Frid best."