Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jonathan Frid: 1924-2012


It is with tremendous sadness that we report that Dark Shadows legend Jonathan Frid has died. As television's first reluctant vampire, Barnabas Collins, Jonathan brought a faltering Dark Shadows runaway success, giving the show its most enduring character.

Jonathan passed away peacefully in the early hours of April 14 in his native Hamilton, Ontario, at the age of 87. Nephew Donald Frid, in a statement from the family said that: "His health had been declining in recent weeks and he died peacefully in his sleep in a local hospital. At Jonathan's request, there was no funeral and there will be no memorial service." It was a characteristically modest exit for a man who had so often shunned the spotlight.

A gathering of family and friends took place yesterday on April 18 – 45 years to the day from Jonathan's debut appearance on Dark Shadows. Donations in his memory may be made to Hillfield-Strathallen College, the school where he first began acting. To visit them online, click here.

Like so many pop culture stars, Jonathan had an conflicted relationship with the role that made him famous. While he was justifiably proud of the character of Barnabas, he was left disenchanted by the violent depiction of the vampire in the House of Dark Shadows movie. His perfectionist streak left him ambivalent about many of his performances and he was undoubtedly typecast by the time Dark Shadows was finally cancelled.

As a performer, Jonathan's heart truly belonged with the theatre, and in the years that followed, he carved out a niche presenting a series of successful one-man shows. With these, he could indulge his love of storytelling in its purest form, performing his favourite pieces of writing on his own terms. Television may have brought him peak audiences of 20 million, but it was undoubtedly these small, intimate productions that gave him the greatest professional satisfaction.

In time, Jonathan came to appreciate the lasting 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.

Last July, Jonathan and some of his Dark Shadows co-stars flew to England, to film a cameo scene alongside Johnny Depp for the new Dark Shadows feature film. As Jonathan stood in the cavernous new Collinwood set built at Pinewood Studios, the new Barnabas – himself a schoolboy viewer of the original show – maybe summed it up best when he told his childhood hero "None of this would be here if it wasn't for you." Dark Shadows will be released in cinemas in a few short weeks, and it's truly fitting that Jonathan's final screen appearance both affirms and celebrates his most enduring role.

Jonathan was a humble man, at times self-effacing to the point of appearing brusque. I suspect he was baffled by the affection he commanded from his fans, and the reaction his death has received today would have probably astonished him. But quite simply, Jonathan Frid was adored. As a powerful figure in the childhoods of so many viewers – sometimes scared of him, but always entranced – those viewers held him dear long after Dark Shadows left the airwaves, making Jonathan and the character of Barnabas immortal.

In the coming days we'll be celebrating Jonathan's life and career with tributes and personal remembrances from friends and colleagues. In the meantime, on behalf of Dark Shadows fans worldwide, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

63 comments:

lowecat said...

This is indeed very sad news. His was a fantastic talent, and he will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace, and my his family and those who love him know that he has gone to a better place.

I imatine a lot of fans in possession of the first DS LP will be listenin' to it.

Travis said...

This is so sad! I was just talking to someone about the movie last night and how 87-year old Jonathan Frid makes a cameo.

rehbda said...

So sad, such a nice man, so glad he got to hand the cane to the next generation in the upcoming film.

Sarah said...

How sad. I never missed and eppisode of Dark Shadows. He'll be missed.

Den said...

This is very sad and definitely out shadows the hype for the new movie. I hope he at least saw the finished product. Rest in Peace!

Cindy said...

So sad to hear this. May God rest his soul.

heaney92 said...

This is indeed sad news and to think he never got to see the new movie and died just over three weeks before opening day is even sadder rest in peace jonathon you will always be THE barnabas collins

Michael J. Curtiss said...

No worries. In 200 years, John Karlen'll be digging him up.

In the meantime, RIP Mr. Frid.

CarolineF said...

Oh, no. He was a talented and interesting character and can't be replaced as Barnabas by anyone.

jmartydormany said...

Mr. Frid will be missed. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a small, intimate performance; he was sweet and charming. Such a talent.

Frau Wulf said...

So sorry to hear the news.

I'm glad that Jonathan was able to appear in the movie. Too bad, he won't be there for the premiere.

I hope the movie will be dedicated to him in his memory.

Ron_Daisy said...

What terrible to wake to this morning. He will be greatly missed, tho I have wonderful memories of the many times we met. I'll always remember the joy, when I was at a Dark Shadows Fest and at the banquet, that the seat left empty at our table was for none other than Jonathan. It was a honor to sit next to this great actor and gentleman. I hope Tim Burton will add a dedication to the new movie in Jonathan's honor.

alwayslb said...

Sad beyond words. Knowing Mr. Frid is no longer walking amongst us makes the world a bit more lonesome and yet he will always be with us. Thank you for wonderful memories that bring me joy yet. Rest knowing you were and are still, beloved by so many.

with sympathy,
lisa brown

Naomi said...

I met Mr. Frid at the revival of Arsenic and Old Lace in 1987, I got to go back stage, what a gentlemen and wonderful man, a highlight of my life that I will never forget.

David said...

Rest in peace Jonathan. You were a lonely boy's great friend.

lonn4670 said...

I am in total shock and disbelief. This news is oh so sad. My heart is broken. Jonathan Frid was a hero to so many of us who ran home from school to watch Dark Shadows back in the day and of course later in reruns, vhs and dvd.
Words cannot express how I and a legion of his fans feel at this time. Thanks you Mr. Frid for all the memories you left, you will forever be Barnabas Collins to us.
Rest in peace. You will be forever missed... Lon

MICHAEL JACKSON FOR LIFE said...

My heart is very heavy at the passing of greatest actor who ever embraced the stage. He was & always be the one & only Barnabas Collins!!!!!! I offer my extreme condolences to his entire family, friends & us the fans loved him so.

Richard Clarke Sr. said...

To the best TV vampire ever... What a thrill for me to find and watch every Original Dark Shadow show only a year ago for the first time ! It's truly a cult horror masterpiece. I'm so glad they made a wonderful DVD collection of this show so it can never be lost... A heart felt goodbye to Mr. Frid my favorite TV Vampire ... You will be missed a great deal by your fans !

terrycaughenbaugh1 said...

What a sad day!there was only one Barnabas Collins and Jonathan Frid was it!Hope Burton and Co. have some kind of dedication to him in the upcoming movie.

carol said...

Such a sad moment in time. He will be missed. But I am sure that the cast of the Dark Shadows movie and all of us will feel his spirit with us at the premiere. :o(

Jean Pennie said...

Such a sad loss for so many of us. There will never be another Barnabas who will equal him, Mr. Frid was one of a kind.

christopher gato said...

this is a very sad day.thank you johnathan for doing dark shadows.
you gave me much happiness every day after school. my heart goes out to your family and all your lifelong fans. chris gato

Mordo said...

I am deeply saddened by the passing of Jonathan Frid. I have so many fond memories of him....not only for his portrayal of Barnabas but of his hospitality in inviting us to his home on many occasions when a group of us were planning the Manhattan Shadows Convention in 1986. Rest in peace Jonathan, you will always be in my heart and the hearts of Dark Shadows fans around the world.

P. A. Wells said...

R. I. P. Jonathan Frid
1924-2012

Your Dark Shadows Gave Us Bright Memories

Patrick Garrison said...

We are all richer for his being here. He was the right person for the role at the right time. What I like best of Frid's interpretation of the vampire is the considerable restraint. He doesn't revel in it, it isn't a life he chose. There aren't the overwhelming scenes of blood everywhere. The struggle to fight it gives Frid's Barnabas a depth not found anywhere else. R.I.P., both you and your character have found some measure of immortality.

Unknown said...

Isn't it odd that Barnabas first appeared at Collinwood exactly 45 years ago today?

Dave said...

I had thought about attending the DS Conference in Tarrytown, because I knew it would be one of the last times the frail Mr. Frid might make it to such an event (and to see the "House of D.S." Collinwood, of course!) Without Jonathan, I really have no desire to attend now.

Ronda cat said...

I am so devastated by this news!

MsRo said...

Although I am saddened by the passing of Mr Frid, I am grateful to have been among a fortunate group of individuals who experienced his portrayal of Barnabas Collins, in the original "Dark Shadows" series. Thank you, Mr Frid, for your sensitive and sophisticated portrayal of a night creature that is too often sensationalized in modern depictions. You will always be the Barnabas who lives on in my memory.

The Bat said...

To the man who kept the shoe companys in business from all of us running home from school; we love you man;rest in peace.

Bunny Soo said...

Sad news for DS fans, but take heart, he will live forever as our beloved Barnabas...

imfunnytoo said...

I'm sad to hear of this loss. I know he knew how much the fans loved his work as Barnabas...he gave us such great entertainment. His unique take on the vampire tale was the pull, the draw, for kids like myself to get home to watch DS!

I'm watching a DS DVD and thinking of him now...

LavonDunaway said...

This is such a sad time. I got to meet him once many years ago. A treasured memory. So sad. I really can't think what to say. I'm beyond hurting. And, yes. I'll go see that movie now. For Jonathan. I guess that's how we should have looked at it all along... Goodbye dear sir. You have been a part of my life ALL my life. I love you.

Rick said...

We're so sad to hear the news about Jonathan Frid - even though we never met him it feels like a family member has left us. Aloha Jonathan.

Debjorgo said...

There's a lot of deaths announced today and recently. This is the only that hurts.

I loved Jonathan when I was a kid. He made me want to be a vampire.

shewhoisAnna said...

When my mother was a young girl, she'd run home after school from the bus stop every day to watch Dark Shadows with my grandmother. It was one of her favorite shows growing up, and Barnabas Collins has always been her favorite vampire.

Decades later, when my little sister was born and SciFi Channel was showing the reruns, she gave me, then 5 1/2 years old, my introduction to vampires by letting me watch the reruns with her. I came to adore Barnabas Collins as much as she did, and Dark Shadows and Mr. Frid's excellent work on it became a major part of my childhood.

I followed his website for a long time, and I always loved how down to earth and personable Mr. Frid seemed, and how welcoming he was of his fans, no matter how they found him. Seeing this news on Twitter broke my heart, and when I called my mother during a break at work to give her the news, we both cried on the phone.

RIP Mr. Frid. The first, the best, and the most beloved Barnabas Collins. You will never be forgotten.

tenniser61 said...

Jonathan Frid made a little kid care about a vampire who despaired for his lost love and was haunted by the woman who loved and wanted to control him. Barnabas's long speeches over losing Josette drew you in, and I don't care if he screwed up on the cue cards and read someone else's lines(lol) he was just great. I'm sorry he was so typecast as Barnabas (as was another 60's great Adam West as Batman) and never got another chance at tv success but the memories of Barnabas will endure. I hope the daytime emmys have sense enough to honor him with a posthumous emmy because let's face it there are very few soap characters' names you remember: Luke and Laura, Erica Kane and Barnabas Collins!! Jonathan RIP.

Charles said...

Warner Brothers has got to release House of Dark Shadows now.

ScorpioTop said...

My heart is heavy with the news of my childhood favorite actor's Passing. Jonathan gave a multi leveled performance, the vampire who regrets his actions. He gave more to the role than it required, and became a cultural icon.

Tom said...

So sad to see one of my childhood heroes pass. I still get much enjoyment watching him as Barnabas. My favorite story lines were when he and Julia were teamed together defending and preserving the Collins family. Whether in the 18th, 19th or 20th centuries, family was important to Barnabas and Jonathan made that a very human aspect of a character that could have easily been just an stereotypical vampire.

thegraveyardkey said...

This is so sad. Rest in Peace Jonathan Frid. He gave reluctance and feeling to the vampire creature and he is no doubt in the same ranks as Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee: a legend of vampire horror.

Parabolic Muse said...

He was truly unique. Independent and direct and no-nonsense. I admired him.

Stephen D. Sullivan said...

I was very sad to hear of Mr. Frid's death this morning. He (and Dark Shadows) had a huge influence on my life and career -- including the series of modern Gothic horror novels I hope to release later this year. This afternoon, I put a scan of the signed photo, which I got from him earlier this year, up on Facebook. Already, I miss him terribly. RIP.

fb92 said...

Just so glad he got the chance to be in the film before his passing.

susied said...

Very sad day. I have been thinking of him all day today remembering all the wonderful tv watching I had.

He will be missed very much.

Jonathan said...

Very sad.

RetroWorld said...

Like a lot of us, I'll bet, I spent some time today watching original episodes. Mr. Frid's magic lives on in our memories and wounded hearts.

- Alan

Delvin Bronson said...

I was shocked and saddened by the news of his passing. He as well as all of the cast of Dark Shadows are part of the memories of my life. He will be deeply missed as I consider him a dear friend. Until we meet again may you rest in everlasting peace and you will forever be remembered for as long as I live.

Nick Caputo said...

I've written about Frid's influence on me on my Blog:

http://nick-caputo.blogspot.com/2012/04/jonathan-frid-1924-2012.html

Spinoza said...

Fare thee well, Jonathan Frid. We never met, but I've known you all my life, running home from school to be scared and inspired by you. Now I am 48 years old, and my wife and 7-year old daughter know you, too, as one of Papa's "old friends." You made my life more fun, more enigmatic. You taught me lessons of loyalty and honor and friendship. And you have given me a "secondary world" where I will always be welcome in the Old House. The world seems colder, more vulgar, less enchanted these days. With your passing, it is so even more. May your soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Thank you, thank you.

Unknown said...

Dear Jonathan: you were my first love (I was 9). Thank you for your magnificent portrayal of a very special character. Your talent made a lasting impression on the world. I hope you have a wonderful afterlife! Rest in peace.

vderricks said...

My heart is broken. The actor who played my childhood hero is no longer among the living. Jonathan Frid was a wonderful actor. He took a cliched role and made it into something fresh and new,the mark of a true artist. Rest in peace, Mr. Frid.

Dale said...

I am saddened to the point of tears. Thank you Mr. Frid for all you gave us. May you rest in peace.

kopana said...

As a young teenage girl in the late 60ies early 70 ies I just adored Barnabas Collins as the kindness vampire ever...and I dream of growing up and marrying someone just like him someday...he will truly be missed and no matter how many talents come after him, he is the one and only Barnabas Collins of Collinwood, Maine. The rest of his imitators are just mortal beings but he will always be immortal that lives in the "old house" of my imagination..

Alfredo Garcia Jr said...

“...synchronicity is defined as the harmonious orderly alignment of events that would otherwise seem to appear random. I would argue that the casting of Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins is one such synchronous event. And I would further suggest that it is doubtful if there was an actor at that time that could have stepped into the shoes of Jonathan Frid and played the character of Barnabas Collins as successfully as he did."

Excerpt From: The Mystique of Barnabas Collins.

Strongbow1176 said...

Mr. Frid was such a great actor, and as a youngster his portrayal of Barnabas Collins was scary, but it kept drawing me in, and I tried not to miss a episode. I know the role was both a blessing and a curse for Mr. Frid, but he will live in my heart forever, as I am forever thankful for Gods gift of Mr. Frid to us, and may he keep them coming back for more there in the great gig in the sky xo. Dan de Lench.

Mike Brienza said...

I was fortunate to visit the NYC studio during the "Past" time period and met many of the actors from DS including Mr. Frid. He was so sweet and delightful and made me a fan forever. A little bit of my childhood has now been passed away with him.

Sharon Lynn H. said...

I'm of great sadden heart to hear that our much beloved legendary Actor Jonathin Frid has passed away. Much heartfelt condolences to the FRID Family & DARK SHADOWS Family legendary Cast & Crew. It came as quite a shock hearing this sad news over the weekend: Mr. Frid will be truelly "missed and always" cherished remembered as a serious Theatre/Melodramatic Actor & his haunting Iconic protrayal of Barnabas Collins never forgotten. Godbless.

BarnabasCollins2012@gmail.com said...

I'VE BEEN WATCHING THE ORIGINAL DARK SHADOWS EPISODES ALL DAY EVERY DAY STARTING WITH EPISODE #1 STARTING 2 MONTHS AGO AND I'M SITTING HERE NOW WATCHING EPISODE #680 AND I JUST FOUND OUT THAT JONATHON FRID HAS LEFT US. IT TRULY IS A SAD TIME FOR ME FINDING THIS OUT AND I WILL WATCH NOTHING ON TV UNTIL I HAVE WATCHED EVERY EPISODE, AS I HAVE THE COMPLETE DARK SHADOWS TV SERIES COLLECTION HERE ALL 1,225 EPISODES PLUS HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS AND NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS ON MY 2 TB HARD DRIVE AND ON DVD'S AS WELL. R.I.P. JONATHON FRID THE BEST BARNABAS THERE WAS, THE BEST BARNABAS THERE IS, AND THE BEST BARNABAS THERE EVER WILL BE!!! AS A KID I USE TO RUN HOME FROM SCHOOL EVERYDAY TO WATCH DARK SHADOWS GOODBYE BARNABAS YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN BY ME. ALL OTHER VAMPIRES ON TV AND THE MOVIES ARENT EVEN IN YOUR CLASS SAD BUT TRUE!!!

Thomas Flowers said...

Is not part of Dark Shadow's magic found in how special the actors were in real life? I will especially mis the incredible speaking voices of Joan and Jonathan. Thanks so much for everything Jonathan

Cynthia said...

My father beared a slight resemblence to Jonathan and I wonder if on some level that had something to do with the appeal of the show for me. So sad he didn't get to see the premier of the new movie but glad he stayed to do a cameo.

Where's John Karlan?

wymoosehead said...

FYI, they did dedicate his memory to the movie.

sue blaine said...

Jonathan you meant so much to so many people , but what you meant to me now and always is through your acting you brought to life a old house that needed to be restored your Beloved Collinwood and there you planted the Hopes and Dreams of a child that would grow up to restore a three story home and owe it all to you. Thank you Forever