"I had to force myself to look at the reruns, but once I did, I realized I wasn't bad."
-- Jonathan Frid

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Jonathan Frid
Dark Shadows Characters:
Barnabas Collins, Bramwell Collins

Appeared in: 594 episodes

First episode: # 211, April 18, 1967

Last episode: # 1245, April 2, 1971

Born: John Herbert Frid; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; December 2, 1924

The actor whose face is most associated with Dark Shadows wasn't even part of the cast for the first 210 episodes of the show. Jonathan Frid's tentative portrayal of reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins helped catapult the show to enormous success.

During World War II, Jonathan served in the Canadian Navy. In 1948 he graduated from McMaster University and in 1949 was accepted at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Over the next few years, he appeared in stage and radio productions-as well as some early Canadian Broadcast Corporation TV programs.

He moved to the U.S. in 1954 and enrolled in the Yale School of Drama. He earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Directing in 1957. Throughout the 1950s and '60s, he performed in regional theater and on television and Broadway.

In 1962, he changed his stage name to Jonathan Frid.

A 1961 newspaper clipping shows Jonathan Frid in an early stage role.

In 1966, he took what was intended to be a 13-week role as Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows, but it lasted until 1971 and rocketed him to worldwide fame. He became a pop culture icon as spiky-haired, spiky-toothed reluctant vampire. His image was everywhere-on everything from magazine covers to wristwatches.

Jonathan was a frequent guest on such talk shows as The Tonight Show and The Mike Douglas Show, and he received thousands of fan letters each week.

Jonathan starred in House of Dark Shadows, but he refused to be involved in its sequel. Once the TV series was canceled, he hung up his cape for good. However, he wasn't able to walk away from the horror genre entirely. Over the next few years, he made a couple of movies, including The Devil's Daughter, a 1972 TV movie starring Shelley Winters; and Seizure, the surreal 1974 directorial debut of Oliver Stone.

For the most part, into the 1980s he took time off, mostly dividing his time between his New York apartment and his native Canada.

"I'm not at all ashamed of my work in Dark Shadows," he told a reporter in the '80s. "I had to force myself to look at the reruns, but once I did, I realized I wasn't bad. I overplayed. I could have used a little more finesse, but I think I caught the essence of what I wanted. The show was actually a very ambitious project and even though it was often amateurish, we aimed high. Sometimes we'd have two, three weeks of terribly bad shows, then a very good one the daily routine was wearing, but it was a rewarding experience."

Jonathan returned to Broadway in a popular production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Also in the 1980s he created and starred in several one-man "readers' theater" shows, reading aloud classic tales of horror, satire and humor. He performed these first at the Dark Shadows Festivals, and later throughout the country.

Working with former DS costar Marie Wallace, Jonathan made his directorial debut in 1993, on the stage play Lion in Winter at the Georgia College Theatre in Milledgeville, Georgia.

In 1994, he semi-retired and left New York to return to Canada. Several years later, he again began performing his readers' theatre again in the U.S, and in June 2000, he appeared in the play Mass Appeal at the Stirling Festival Theatre in Stirling, Ontario.

For several years, Jonathan attended Dark Shadows Festivals, but he has not done so since moving to Canada.

The life-long bachelor has chosen not to discuss his private life with the press.

Career Highlights

DAYTIME TV: As the World Turns (Dr. Field), Look Up and Live, Dick Cavett Show, Girl Talk, Mike Douglas Show, What's My Line, Good Morning America (1987), Hour Magazine (1987).

PRIMETIME TV: Picture of Dorian Gray, Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show, Dick Cavett Show.

TV FILM: The Devil's Daughter (Mr. Howard, 1973).

TV COMMERCIAL: Milton Bradley's Barnabas Collins-Dark Shadows Game.

SCREEN: House of Dark Shadows (Barnabas Collins, 1970), Seizure (Edmund Blackstone, 1972, directed by Oliver Stone).

STAGE: Alpha and the Omega (Dr. Jacobsen, 1986, NYC), The Royal Family (Tony Cavendish, 1977, Penn State), Wait Until Dark (Harry Roat Jr., 1971, Fort Worth/Houston), Murder in the Cathedral (Thomas Becket, NYC, 1971), Dial M For Murder (Tony Wendice, 1969, Illinois), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Duke of Milan, 1966, San Diego), The Tempest (Caliban, 1966, San Diego), Romeo and Juliet (Lord Capulet, 1966, San Diego), The Critic (Prologue, 1965-66, Philadelphia), Poor Bitos (Julien/Danton, 1965-66, Philadelphia), The Waters of Babylon (Butterthwaite, 1965, NYC), Room Service (Sasha, 1965, Penn State), Richard III (Richard III, 1965, Penn State), Skin of Our Teeth (Antrobus, 1965, Penn State), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Theseus/Oberon, 1965, NYC), The White Rose and the Red (multiple roles, 1964, NYC), The Burning (Father Gilbert, 1963, NYC), Theatre Looks at Love (multiple roles, 1963, Pittsburgh), The Taming of the Shrew (Petruchio, 1963, Pittsburgh), Under the Yum Yum Tree (Hogan, 1962), The Best Man (William Russell, 1962), Don Carlos (Phillip II, 1962, NYC), The Storm (Kuligin, 1962, NYC), The Moon in the Yellow River (Darrell and Blake, 1961, NYC), Henry IV, Part I (Worcester, 1960, NYC; 1960, Boston), Henry IV Part II (Richard Scroop, 1960, NYC), Julius Caesar (Cassius, 1959, Fort Lee, NJ), Macbeth (Macbeth, 1959, NJ), The Golem (Tadeus, 1959, NYC), What Every Woman Knows (Brother, 1958, NYC), Scythe and the Sunset (Dr. Myles MacCarthy, 1958, Mass.), The Drunkard (1948, Canada).

BROADWAY: Roar Like A Dove (Bernard, 1964), Arsenic and Old Lace (Jonathan Brewster, 1986).

TOURS: Jonathan Frid's Fridiculousness (1989, national), Jonathan Frid's Shakespearean Odyssey (1989-, national), Arsenic and Old Lace (Jonathan Brewster, 1987, national; 1988, Florida), Jonathan Frid's Fools and Fiends (1986, national), Hostile Witness (Defense Attorney, 1966-67, national), Theatre Looks at Love (multiple roles, 1963, school tour), Lincoln/Douglas Debates (Lincoln, 1963, school tour), Auntie Mame (O'Bannion, 1960), Much Ado About Nothing (Friar Francis/Sexton, 1958, national A.S.F. tour).

AMERICAN SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL (Stratford, CT): Much Ado About Nothing (Friar Francis/Sexton, 1957), Merchant of Venice (Salerio, 1957), Othello (Cypriot Sargeant, 1957), King John (Chatillon, 1956).

WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL: The Late George Apley (Howard Boulder, 1955), The Rainmaker (Bill Starbuck, 1955), The Crucible (John Proctor, 1955), Tovarich (Concierge, 1955), Light Up the Sky (Owen Turner, 1955), Time of the Cuckoo (Signor Di Rossi, 1955).

CANADIAN THEATER: Mother Goose (First Herald, 1952-53, Montreal), Crime of Passion (Charles, 1952, Toronto). Also: two seasons of English repertory in Ontario, 1948.

TORONTO SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL: The Merchant of Venice (Gratiano, 1952), The Winter's Tale (Camillo, 1952), Julius Caesar (Mark Antony, 1952).

BRITISH THEATER TOUR: The Third Visitor (James Oliver, 1950).

APPRENTICESHIPS: New Jersey, 1946; Milford, PA, 1946.


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