Thursday, May 3, 2012

Jonathan Frid: Dark Shadows Colleagues Pay Tribute

When Jonathan Frid passed away last month, the Dark Shadows world said goodbye to its greatest star and the show's community of actors lost a dear friend. We asked Jonathan's colleagues to share their memories of a remarkable man at work and beyond...

Kathleen Cody Hallie Stokes
I was only 15-16 years-old and frankly, a bit in awe of Jonathan for the entire time I was a cast member on Dark Shadows. But I will forever be so thankful and honoured that I was given the privilege to know and work with him. I, along with everyone else who loves Dark Shadows and Jonathan’s unforgettable portrayal of Barnabas Collins, will miss him so very much.

I am looking forward to going to see Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's new Dark Shadows film. What the new Dark Shadows film does bring home to my heart in a new way now, is joy that Jonathan got to live his final days knowing that, as one who loved his craft, he will forever be remembered as the actor who created a role that captivates and enthralls audiences the world over. To this day, continued attempts are made to recapture, improve upon, or even perhaps give a completely different spin to the telling of the story of Barnabas Collins.

Jerry Lacy Reverend Trask 
As I look back now, I remember days at the studio when I marveled at the way Jonathan was able to bring so much sympathy to his character – to the point that Barnabas could be forgiven for anything. The success of Dark Shadows was totally due to his ability to portray the vulnerability of his Barnabas – to show us the inner feelings, the unspoken sadness, the terrible longings. Without that depth, the character would never have found its way into the hearts of so many. His talents were broad, and his kindness, his warmth, his friendship will be missed by all.

Lara Parker Angelique
Jonathan and I played countless scenes together as passionate lovers and as blood-lust enemies, and he was always surprising, deeply mysterious, and dedicated to his craft – even though he sometimes couldn’t remember his lines. There were often times when I had to help him out a little in the middle of a scene. Still his performance always amazed us. With his classical actor’s expertise, he could be mesmerizing on the screen. 

After the show went off the air and Jonathan stopped coming to the festivals, years went by before I saw him again. The occasion was a television special in 1994, 50 Years of Soaps, that featured famous couples – or adversaries – from all the daytime series. Jonathan arrived looking dashing as usual and sporting, to my surprise, a sexy little goatee. Although we had only one line apiece once, he insisted, characteristically, on rehearsing and rehearsing, just like the old days. Even after years of performing on camera, somehow these mini-appearances can be the most terrifying, and I was shaking in my shoes while we waited backstage to go on. 

The dialogue went as follows – Me: "Well, Barnabas, you’re looking a little long in the tooth!" Jonathan: "You know, my dear, I’ve always liked biting humour." To my great relief, the lines went perfectly, and then he leaned over and kissed my hand in the most gentlemanly manner, which was completely unrehearsed and unexpected. While I was laughing, he grabbed me and spun me around waltzing and bending me back in a savage embrace. I almost fell to the floor, I was so surprised. Even as frightened as we both were, Jonathan was spontaneous and generous. He took my breath away! It was a great moment.

Chris Pennock Jeb Hawkes
I'm still in shock. I woke up this morning thinking, 'What a strange dream," – but it wasn't a dream. I'm very sad, but also happy that Jonathan had such a long life, filled with great accomplishments and endless admiration. I think the main thing I'll take away from our friendship is that he was not only a prodigiously-talented actor, with one hell of a voice, but also a truly good, tender man. Nothing but goodness – very rare in our actor's world of struggle and survival! I will miss him.

Kathryn Leigh Scott Maggie Evans
I adored Jonathan from the moment we met to rehearse our first scene together. Of all the many shows we did together, the episode where Barnabas Collins first meets Maggie Evans in the Collinsport Diner will always be my favourite. Jonathan, a classically trained actor, brought such dimension to the role of Barnabas, and that will be his enduring legacy. He became the heart and soul of Dark Shadows – the very reason kids ran home from school to watch our show. He was a gentleman to his core – unassuming, unpretentious and a dear and lovable friend. I miss him, but how grateful I am that we had the opportunity to meet and work together again last year in England on the Dark Shadows movie.

Sharon Smyth Lentz Sarah Collins
I am so sorry to hear about Jonathan's passing. Although I was only ten years old when I worked with him in 1967, he never treated me with anything but respect and compassion. Whether encouraging me when I was nervous or kidding with me when I messed up, he was larger than life in person, but never intimidating – always the big brother. I can still hear his booming voice calling "Sarah." I will miss his presence, but will always keep him in my heart. Thank you Jonathan.

James Storm Gerard Stiles
I was sad to hear about Jonathan, and so happy we had the chance to meet in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. I have wonderful memories of him, but I will never forget our last meeting. He was gracious and warm – when he spoke to me, he was so present and engaging. There is much more to say about him, but I will end by saying that he was a fine actor, a tribute to our profession, but more than that – he was noble, humourous, and one hell of a decent man. He is missed.

Sy Tomashoff Dark Shadows Scenic Designer
Jonathan was loved by everyone he came in contact with, and he became Dark Shadows' most-loved character. Like many performers, he became an actor as a means of receiving affection from his audience. As Barnabas, he not only had their affection, but also their love. He is gone now, but he will always have our love.

Marie Wallace Eve
Working with Jonathan Frid on Dark Shadows was indeed a pleasure. However, my real friendship with him began years later, when he began his one-man shows. Every time he performed at a library or school in New York City, I would attend, and always join him afterwards in a celebratory dinner. That’s when we got to know and love one another’s company. He liked to give small dinner parties in his Manhattan apartment and often asked me to be the hostess for the evening. 

In 1993, when David Moore asked Jonathan to direct The Lion In Winter at Georgia College, Jonathan asked me to play the lead role of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I jumped at the chance, and we had the most delightful eight weeks – living in the Governor’s Mansion, rehearsing and then performing the play, spending evenings at local restaurants, going on radio shows together, and just having the most wonderful time. I have great memories of our times together, and I shall cherish them forever.


LZ-126 said...

Thanks for putting this together. The tributes from his colleagues and friends are beautiful.

Dale said...

It just so happens that You Tube has the 1994 reunion of Jonathan Frid and Lara Parker on "50 Years of Soaps," part 7. The presentation of "Dark Shadows" starts at clip position 2:08.

Sharon Lynn H. said...

Heart warming Tributes to Actor Mr. Jonathing FRID's from his DARK SHADOWS Colleagues/friends: Kathleen Cody/Hallie Stokes, Jerry Lacy/Rev. Trask and Lara Parker/Angelique etc.,. from the Hearts of the DS's CAST & CREW. Beautifully said. "The 50 Years of Soaps" special TV Event..of Mr. Frid & Ms. Parker (Barnabas & Angelique) is rich & elegant (thanks for sharing).