Friday, May 18, 2012

Jonathan Frid: Nancy Kersey Remembers

As a writer for Clunes Associates, Jonathan Frid's production company, Nancy Kersey worked closely with Jonathan for over a decade on his one-man shows. She shares her memories of a loyal employer and dear friend...

Jonathan Frid was one of the funniest people I have ever known. That fact befuddles those I have said this to... "Barnabas? Funny? Really?" Yes, really. And then some. John (I called him 'John', 'Uncle Gaunty' and 'Friddlesticks') was like a multi-layered banana; you could peel and peel and never quite pin him down. Forget trying to predict him. He was a complex individualist, disliking going with the flow for the sake of just keeping the status quo. He had no interest in keeping the status quo.

He refused to capitalise on his fame as Barnabas Collins when Dark Shadows was in its heyday and that refusal cost him work. He wanted to explore being a talk show host, a nod to his constant curiosity about world and national affairs. That didn’t pan out. He could have taken the many horror roles offered to him, but Jonathan disliked the genre in general and didn’t pursue that kind of work either. Most actors would say that was kind of dumb, but that's how Jonathan was – he did what he wanted. If other people understand why, fine, if they didn't... well, that was fine too.

For me, Jonathan was an excellent friend. He was the only friend I had who could talk about 50 things in the span of a half hour – the same as me – and listen to me jump from one thing to another. We had the same irreverent humor and shared our love of politics and old movies in conversation that could run for hours. He would call me and say "Let’s go do something," and if I was free, off we went to find something – like walking the entire length of Manhattan, going off to Connecticut in my car or whatever struck our fancy. Our most favorite thing to do was to go off into "God’s open country" and observe all the wonderful and quirky cloud formations in the sky. We could sit on a car for an hour in silence just contemplating the changing cloud formations and musing in our own private reverie. He was a kind man, a generous employer and friend to me, and one of my favorite people to spend time with.

Jonathan was so innocent in the face of pop culture, though, the very culture in which he was a member. I went with him to a Creation Con and there fans dressed up as various characters mostly from sci-fi shows like Star Trek. At the table where Jonathan was signing autographs, two individuals dressed as Klingons stood nearby, controlling the crowds. When the autographs were finished, Jonathan and I headed to his hotel room, and along side of us walked the two dressed Klingons. When we got to his suite, he asked me "What were those two supposed to be?" I replied, "Klingons. They are characters from Star Trek." "Klingons?" "Yes, John." "I thought Klingons were women’s pantyhose..."


Linda Dachtyl said...

That was great to read. Sure loved his attitude. I am sure he died a happy man as he was true to himself. Thanks to you and Nancy for sharing these insights into who Jonathan Frid really was.

ffghtr49 said...

I agree. I was looking forward to the movie and pleasantly suprised how the movie generally followed the storyline of the series. I wasn't disappointed in the movie, I feel that making the movie was one of the best things to compliment the series.

I have to admit, the best part of this site is reading the tid-bits of information concerning the original stars of the show!

Thanks for the hard work you continue to do on feeding the many fans of Jonathon, Lara, Mrs. Bennett, Kathryn , and the many others who Made the show what it was and continues to be!!! said...

What a nice article. I really enjoyed the behind the Star is the man angle. R. I. P. Jonathan Frid