Some terrible news today for genre fans and for Dark Shadows fans especially. The great Jonathan Frid, who portrayed the noble, tortured vampire Barnabas Collins in both the original series and the feature film House of Dark Shadows (1970) has passed away at the age of 87.
Frid, who also had a starring turn in Oliver Stone’s horror film, Seizure (1974), created a classic character in Barnabas, a prototype for the “noble” or “tragic,” Byronic vampire seen frequently on television now in modern series such as Forever Knight, Angel, Moonlight and Being Human. In so many ways, Barnabas was the prototype for this type, and Frid emanated both incredible strength and a strange vulnerability in the role. There is little doubt that Barnabas remains one of the greatest of all cult-TV characters in the genre pantheon, and in part this is because Frid understood so capably how to humanize the monster; how to make the audience understand his torment and pain.
Mr. Frid shall be missed, but his performances as Barnabas Collins shall endure. The actor created a character that is legend. And that legend transformed Dark Shadows from afternoon soap opera to feature film, to 1990s TV remake, to 2012 re-imagination. Quite a legacy…