The original Barnabas Collins is gone

Although opinion is mixed on the trailer, I’m as curious as anyone else to see the big screen version of Dark Shadows, directed by Tim Burton.

Yes, it was a little before my time, but a number of people in my family used to watch the show every day, and many have fond memories of seeing it growing up, including Johnny Depp, who’s starring in the film as lead vampire Barnabas Collins.

The original Barnabas Collins, Jonathan Frid, also has a cameo in the film, and it’s a shame he won’t be able to see the movie released, because he passed away on April 13, a Friday fittingly enough, at the age of 87. 

While nobody knows how extensive his role is in the new incarnation of Dark Shadows, it could be just a wink-wink, nudge-nudge cameo, but it’s good to see that he will be in the film.


As you may recall, it was Frid who saved Dark Shadows from being cancelled, because at first it was a ratings disaster, and when producer Dan Curtis decided to make the show supernatural and bring in a vampire, a star was born. 

According to the L.A. Times, the role of Barnabas Collins wasn’t going to be on the show very long, but Frid, who was Shakespearean trained, was too good to eliminate. 

Funny enough, several of the major vampires in pop culture history were portrayed by Shakespearean trained performers, including William Marshall, who played Blacula. (Hammer stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing loved Shakespeare as well, but they did horror films because Shakespeare didn’t pay the bills).


Curtis told Frid to make Collins “human. Remember he’s real, and every monster is a human of sorts.” 

As Johnny Depp told the Times, “Jonathan Frid was the reason I used to run home to watch Dark Shadows. His elegance and grace was an inspiration then and will continue to remain one. When I had the honor to finally meet him, he was elegant and magical as I had always imagined.”