Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From the Archives: March 1969

Here's a great interview recently added to the Google news archives, "Dark Shadows Director Crosses Into Male World". First published in the March 12 1969 edition of Charleston's The News and Courier, it showcases one of the show's greatest contributors, lead director Lela Swift.

Lela oversaw more episodes than anyone else, eventually taking the reins as the show's producer in 1970. I love the little lost details of the show captured in contemporary pieces like this – I can just picture her arriving at the studio in early morning gloom with her red briefcase full of scripts.

Speaking to Joy Stilley of the Associated Press, Lela was described a "diminutive brown-eyed blonde", declaring herself a "terrifically high-energy person". Breaking into television had taken time; she was initially warned she would only find work directing cookery shows. "I believe women can do anything," reflecting on her status as one of the few women working in drama. "When I was an assistant director, they passed over me five times because I was a woman... I guess they became embarrassed, because I was finally promoted to director."

"We never have enough time," said Lela about Dark Shadows. "The big thing is to keep the door creaking – we have to maintain a high level of suspense. The moment we put a ghost on, there was an enormous audience reaction. When Jonathan Frid went on as the vampire, again the ratings shot up. He was supposed to be on for only 13 weeks, but now we involve him in everything."

To read the full piece, click here.


Barry said...

I just love the quote ""The big thing is to keep the door creaking." So smart. Great article!

Dale said...

Thank you for finding and posting this most interesting article on Ms. Swift. She played an important role in making "Dark Shadows" the success it became. According to The Internet Movie Data Base, Ms. Swift turned 92, this past February 1.

Robala said...

I also love the quote "This show is always in New Haven" New Haven once being the tryout town shows first went to, to work out technical and other problems, before going onto Broadway. Thanks for the article!