‘Dark Shadows’ Actor Jonathan Frid Has Died


Jonathan Frid, the actor most people know for his role as vampire Barnabas Collins on gothic soap Dark Shadows, has died of natural causes, Digital Spy reports. He was 87-years old.

Frid’s death of course comes just ahead of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s big screen adaptation of Dark Shadows, which aired from 1966 until 1971, and was a cult favorite. Frid makes a cameo in the flick.

Remarking on Frid’s passing, Village Voice journo Michael Musto raises questions about the actor’s private life:

And as my friend William Love–a true-blue Dark Shadows aficionado–remembers, Frid withdrew whenever personal questions were asked.

Frid’s familiar line about his character was, “I don’t play a vampire. I play a man with a secret.”

That seemed to apply in real life, too.

Frid always came off like a fey cross between Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe, but his culty female fans through the years always argued, “He loves women!” or “He’s asexual. He doesn’t believe in having sex!”

And there was the hot guy William knows who once approached Frid as a fan, only to have the actor coo, “Let’s talk about you.”

(Another male I know claims Frid once chased him for sex, but the guy tends to have a vivid imagination, so take it with a grain of vampire dust.)

In the end, though, such questions really don’t matter. Not at this point, at least.


  1. bobbyjoe says

    This makes me sad. I’m glad he got to do the cameo in the DS movie, though. It’s good he knew at the end he’d created a character people are still talking about 40 years later.

  2. Russ says

    I met Jon in a bar called Beau Geste in 1979.
    He certainly wasn’t closeted back then. He was in a gay bar after all, & openly talked about being gay.

  3. mike/ says

    how freaky is this with the Johnny Depp version scheduled to come out in less than a month?


    Jonathan Frid was great & seeing the trailers for the new “Dark Shadow”, i’m not sure i’d like it.

  4. VDUFFORD says

    The best opening credits simple dark Mansion one tiny light on in an upstairs window the creepiest damn music or maybe they were just eerie sounds.They are on DVD the entire series cheap at Costco or Deep discount.com on line. They may seem a little primitive and stagy now but they are still very effective and have great atmosphere!

  5. doogiehowsah says

    Dashes are used between numbers and measurements only when they are a modifying compound, e.g., “the 87-year-old actor,” but “he was 87 years old.” When a dash is used, the plural is not, and there is never a case where a dash is used between the number and “year” and not “year” and “old,” so this punctuation mistake is doubly random.

  6. coolbear says

    An unusually poignant instance of the passing of the mantle–or cape. Johnny Depp is a good guy and a serious artist; I’m sure Jonathan Frid and his fans are very much in his thoughts.

  7. Kevin says

    I really hope that the film House of Dark Shadows is released on DVD/Blu Ray soon. Its a spin off from the soap opera and is really quite good.

    The soap is on Netflix. Check it out. Jonathan Frid was awesome.

  8. Ricco says

    I loved-LOVE Dark Shadows. I ran home everyday from school, missing the first few minutes, just in time for the Dark Shadows theme and the wavy fonts . . . obviously after they had gone to the wavy fonts.

    And I loved/love Jonathan Frid. I will go see the Johnny Depp movie, but I am not sure I will appreciate (I am certain that I will not)the Beetle Juice goof ball approach to my most beloved vampire franchise.

    They tried to reprise the role of Barnabas with Ben Cross, but it did not do well. Maybe Tim Burton felt that approaching the movie as a legitimate horror film would not sell.

    I don’t know, and maybe his screwball approach will do well with audiences who have never seen or heard of Dan Curtis’s Dark Shadows, still I cannot see why he had to turn Barnabas Collins into a clown, and do campy horror, something along the line of The Lost Boys, or the original Fright Night.

    Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas Collins was a kick a** serious vampire, and he will always be the Barnabas Collins to me. Between Frid and Depp, Frid may have been gay Johnny Depp’s Barnabas Collins is totally gay, and not in a good way.

    It’s like Captain Jack Sparrow got turned into a vampire and decided to adopt a new do to go along with the new persona.

    It’s not pretty!

  9. Jeff says

    I too watched it after school with my brother, still have the album he cut and a model in the attic. Maybe best he will not see the atrocity coming…

  10. Etienne says

    There was another regular on the DS TV show, whose name escapes me now but he was another gay thespian on TV when no one even whispered of such things. He also played [Ruth Warrick] ‘Phoebe Tyler Wallingford’s [carney huckster] husband ‘Langley’ on the very long running soap ‘All My Children’ for many years, starting around 1980. They were both thespians in the truest American sense, with the uppity fake aristocratic class British accent and all, reminiscent of stage actors of the 1930’s & 40’s. Both he & his wonderful lead co-star, Jonathan Frid are probably in heaven now, lighting up some long slender feminine cigarettes & throwing back a couple at some celestial bar! They are BOTH well remembered & shall both be well missed.

  11. Donald says

    Louis Edmonds is the actor you are thinking of: just another stellar member of a cast that included Thayer David, and Joan Bennett among the company! Rest in peace,

  12. Dearcomrade says

    I remember watching the original show with my mom when I was a little kid. It was a great show in its day. It ran just like a regular afternoon soap. Burton & Depp have made a piece of trash and at least Mr. Frid won’t have to hear the critics trash the movie.

  13. dearcomrade says

    Very found memories of the original show. Watched it with my mom when I was a little kid. Scary stuff for back in the day. The coolest soap on TV. Burton & Depp have made a piece of trash. Mr. Frid would have died of embarrassment when the critics trash it.

  14. BZ says

    The show revived from its early slump when Jonathan Frid arrived at Collinwood, but it truly took off when Grayson Hall took up the role of Dr. Julia Hoffman. Watching the two of them together was loads of fun.

    Hoffman: “You could DIE, Barnabas! And this time death could be PERMANENT!”

  15. jamal49 says

    Wonderful to read these beautiful reminiscences of Dark Shadows in its heyday. I always loved that it was done “live” (in the beginning anyway). Quite a bit of fun, it was. Mr. Frid, rest in peace. And, thank you.

  16. sammycat3 says

    Jonathan Frid is not dead, he just went to England. Willie, get my coffin, were going to England and keep it a secret.

    Seriously why did a whole week pass by without his death leaking out before April 19th?

  17. says

    So sorry about JF. Even sorrier that Tim Burton decided to desecrate another of my memories from my youth. I don’t know why he even calls it Dark Shadows, since it no longer resembles the soap with poor production but rather an over kitchy campy version of a horror show. Poor Mr. Frid— he and his co stars did wonderful work and now it’s been trashed.

  18. Jim says

    They kept it secret for a week so his rabid fans wouldn’t storm the funeral and abduct the corpse. My brother was saying they should embalm him and parade his hearse all over the country for throngs of fans to see. Like Abraham Lincoln. I do hope they build a mausoleum like on the show that we can all visit to pay our respects.

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