Friday, July 11, 2014

Remembering Jonathan Frid Book Released

The life of Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins) is celebrated in a new book from Evil Twin Publishing. Remembering Jonathan Frid is a 200-page paperback that gathers memories and insights from Jonathan's friends, colleagues and fans, illustrated throughout with rare and unseen photographs.

The book includes contributions from Lara Parker (Angelique), Marie Wallace (Eve) and Jonathan's longtime producer and writer Nancy Kersey, along with Dark Shadows News Page editor Stuart Manning. From the publisher:
Jonathan Frid was thought to be something of a mysterious figure: He disliked the celebrity spotlight, he never aspired to stardom and seldom spoke about his private life. What made him tick? What kind of a man was he? From his early days on the stage to his time as vampire Barnabas Collins on the cult television classic Dark Shadows, Remembering Jonathan Frid gathers friends, family and colleagues to share their insights and memories of this complex and talented actor, illustrated throughout with over 130 rare and unseen photographs.
Remembering Jonathan Frid is available in paperback and can be ordered at a discount price by clicking here. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the John H. Frid Foundation, the charity fund Jonathan that established in his name.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Robert Costello: Kathryn Leigh Scott Pays Tribute

Earlier today we reported the death of longtime Dark Shadows producer Robert Costello, who passed away last month, aged 93. Actress Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans) has written in to share her memories of a friend and colleague:
"Memories flood back with the sad news of Bob Costello's passing. He was a delightful, accomplished man, and I was so lucky that he was the first producer I ever worked with. He and Lela Swift, our director, were on hand from the very beginning, actually from my first audition for the role of Maggie Evans. I remember that during my final reading for Dan Curtis, Lela and Bob, Alexandra, Louis and I were all waiting together in the reception room. He knew I'd never been on camera before, that Dark Shadows was my first job.  
"During that first two weeks, when we read and rehearsed several episodes before going on camera, Bob was instrumental in helping me develop my role and getting me to relax. He frequently took me aside to give gentle guidance, particularly correcting my Minnesota pronunciation of, such words as 'milk', 'water' and 'hover'. I insisted Minnesotans had no accent, which really made him laugh!  
"He was in charge throughout our run, first at the studio in the morning, the last to leave after our afternoon rehearsal. I remember him as a solid, beloved presence, fun-loving and a joy to be around. My heart goes out to Sybil, who must miss him terribly. I think I'll have an Irish coffee tonight to toast and celebrate the life of this charming, lovely man!"

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Robert Costello: 1921-2014

It is with sadness that we learned of the passing of television pioneer Robert Costello, the first producer of Dark Shadows. Robert died of heart attack on May 30 at his Hampton summer home, aged 93. His health has been in decline in recent years.

Costello began his career in illustration and theatre design, before graduating to early live television on The Armstrong Circle Theatre. The show gave early breaks to a number of top-flight talents, including James Dean and Jack Lemmon. After working as producer on The Patty Duke Show, he was offered the chance to set up a new gothic-styled soap at ABC for Dan Curtis Productions, which would eventually reach the airwaves as Dark Shadows.

During his three years on Dark Shadows, Robert Costello's expertise were crucial in establishing the show's unique tone and production methods. He recruited the show's production team, while ushering in innovation through location filming and special effects – concepts practically unheard of in 1960s daytime television. He also served as an important mentor to Dan Curtis, the show's novice creator, as Curtis cut his teeth to become an accomplished producer and director in his own right.

Following Dark Shadows, in 1969 Costello was recruited to oversee copycat supernatural soap Strange Paradise, which taped in Canada. During the 1970s, he produced the acclaimed PBS miniseries The Adams Chronicles, which won him a Peabody award. Latterly, he helmed daytime shows Ryan's Hope (produced at the Dark Shadows studio on West 53rd Street), winning two Emmys, before taking the reins of Another World. When he retired from the industry in the early 1980s, Costello lectured on television production at New York University, and continued to enjoy life in Manhattan with his wife Sybil Weinberger, Dark Shadows' music supervisor.

Speaking in an interview for the Dark Shadows DVD range, Costello remembered his time on the show with affection: "We were not what you'd call a big-budget show because ABC was not a big budget network," he joked. "The thing we had going for us was mood... Most soaps were lit like they'd torn the roof off the house – we were lit like there were practically no windows. We could get away with a lot... you could imagine things off in the gloom. It worked just fine."

Robert is survived by both his wives, along with his children and extended family. To read a full obituary published in the East Hampton Star, click here. Below is a 1998 video interview conducted by Emmy TV Legends, discussing Dark Shadows; the segment about the show begins at 13:20.