Right on the heels of yesterday’s death of icon Dick Clark, another death in the entertainment world has darkened our door. Jonathan Frid, who staked his claim on the supernatural and gothic ABC television serial Dark Shadows, has passed away from natural causes at Juravinski Hospital in his native hometown of Hamilton, Ontario in Canada, according to Digital Spy. He was 87 years old.
Born on December 2, 1924, Frid served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. A few years later, he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing at Yale University. Classically trained, he spent 30 years in theater as well.
The actor found success in his career, however, when he appeared as the vampire Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows between 1966 and 1971, and was a cult hero to thousands of teenage kids, who made the program a hit.
Frid played the character of Barnabas Collins with full gusto and relish, starting out as a terrifying and intimidating creature of the night to becoming the chief protagonist on the program who risked his life again and again to save the Collins family from any impending danger as the show went on. Nonetheless, the character remained flawed throughout the show’s run. The character of Barnabas was also a chief proponent for the romance on the program, as many women characters came and went around his axis, cementing his reputation as a ladies man and somewhat sex symbol to the large viewing audience who watched his antics on the show in droves. Frid clearly enjoyed his role which brought him fame in the soap opera universe.
After the show’s run, Frid’s career took a slow turn, he appeared in a 1973 TV movie with Shelly Winters called The Devil’s Daughter and in 1974, appeared in director Oliver Stone’s debut film, Seizure. A few years later he appeared in various theater productions.
But it was the role of Barnabas Collins that always stayed with him in the minds of the public. His final appearance is in the upcoming Tim Burton adaptation of Dark Shadows for the big screen, set to be released on May 11th of this year. Starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas, (who has admitted he was an unabashed fan of Frid’s portrayal of Collins growing up), Frid had filmed a small cameo role for the production. I’m sure now, however, the film will be dedicated to him as well.
A tip of the cap in memoriam to Jonathan Frid today, as television and the entertainment world loses yet another seminal figure in its pop cultured history.
RIP Jonathan Frid December 2, 1924 – April 13, 2012
Video: Dark Shadows – Barnabas Collins arrives at Collinwood