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Dark Shadows Characters:
Willie Loomis, Carl Collins, Desmond, William H. Loomis
Appeared in: 180 episodes
First episode: # 206, April 11, 1967
Last episode: # 1245, April 2, 1971
Born: May 28, 1933; New York City
Growing up in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood prepared John Karlen well for fending off evil monsters years later on Dark Shadows. John was awarded a scholarship to New York's Academy of Dramatic Arts, which he credits for saving him from life as a "thug." He graduated in 1959, and the next year made his Broadway debut in Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth.
More stage work followed-including Luther, Invitation to a March, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, and Arturo Ui. On TV, he guest-starred on Kraft Theatre (in "Man in the Square"), Naked City (1959), and The Detectives (1962).
In 1967, he took over the role of drifter Willie Loomis, the character who released Barnabas Collins from his coffin-and became his slave and protector. In the hands of James Hall, Willie had been an unsympathetic looser, bullying everyone around him. John's portrayal softened the character, adding some vulnerability (especially once he was under the control of the vampire).
Remaining with Dark Shadows through its final episode, John played several characters, including foolish, compulsive giggler Carl Collins (in the 1897 storyline) and dashing romantic Desmond Collins in the final storyline. He was one of the only actors featured in both DS films. He reprised Willie in House of Dark Shadows, and played novelist Alex Jenkins in Night of Dark Shadows.
In 1971 John went to Europe to star in the lesbian vampire flick Daughters of Darkness.
Throughout the '70s, he starred in numerous TV movies, including several directed and/or produced by Dan Curtis -- such as Frankenstein (1973), The Picture of Dorian Grey (1973) and Last Ride of the Dalton Gang (1979). He moved to California, hoping to make more movies, but he found he was "just another actor looking for a job," he said later. "The daytime television work and the Broadway plays couldn't have meant less." He did land some guest-starring gigs on Lou Grant, Police Story, Kojak and others, and made a few movies, including A Small Town in Texas (1976) and Killer's Delight (1979).
In 1982 John took the part of Harvey Lacey in the CBS cop drama Cagney & Lacey. He played the husband of a tough New York detective, played by theater star Tyne Daly. Sharon Gless played her partner, Christine Lacey. He won an Emmy for the role in 1987.
Cagney and Lacey went off the air in 1988, and John returned for four reunion specials-two in 1994 and two in 1995.From 1993 to 1996, John had a recurring role on Mad About You, as Gus Stemple, the father of Helen Hunt's character, Jamie. Carol Burnett played Gus' wife, Theresa, beginning in 1995.
John has publicly discussed his problems with alcohol and gambling-including a revealing interview on Entertainment Tonight. The actor lives in California, where he continues to work on stage and occasionally on television. He attends the annual Dark Shadows Festivals.
"I'm 40 pounds heavier and I have a mustache," John Karlen said in 1987, "but people still recognize me from Dark Shadows. It was a unique show, and I'm still very close with many of the people from it."
DAYTIME TV: Another World (Casey, 1970), Hidden Faces (Sharkey Primrose, 1968), Love is a Many Splendored Thing (Jock Porter, 1967), From These Roots (1958), Hour Magazine (1987), Shazam! (Nick Roberts, 1975), ABC Afterschool Special: My Dear Uncle Sherlock (Bill Leggett, 1977), Look Up and Live (1968), Directions (1961).
PRIMETIME TV: Snoops (Lt. Stan Akers, 1989-90), Jackee (1989, pilot), Murder She Wrote (1989), Cagney and Lacey (Harvey Lacey - Emmy Award 1986 - Best Supporting Actor, 1981-88), Merv Griffin Show (1986), The Late Show (1987), Finder of Lost Loves (1985), Bay City Blues (Max Clancy, 1983), Strike Force (D.A. Trenton, 1982), Vegas (Geddis, 1981), Trapper John M.D. (Dr. Marty Brenner, 1981), Hill Street Blues (Officer Loomis, 1981), Fame (Det. Kessler, 1981), Vegas (Stolvak, 1980), Quincy (Brice, 1980), Hagen (1980), Rockford Files (Leo, 1979), Quincy (Sgt. Alistar Adams, 1979), Sword of Justice (Jerry Lombardi, 1979), Lou Grant (Ken Navaretti, 1979), Kaz (Fred Jackson, 1979), Eddie Capra Mysteries (1979), This is the Life (Barry, 1978), Starsky & Hutch (Det. Stanton, 1978), Nancy Drew (Rocky McCue, 1978), Kojak (Hicks, 1978), Charlie's Angels (Leonard Chaffee, 1978), Barnaby Jones (Easy Eddie, 1978), Colorado C.I. (1978, pilot), Streets of San Francisco (Nat Reeves, 1977), Serpico (Eddie Hibbard, 1977), Police Story (Shep Willard, 1977), Most Wanted (Red Murphy, 1977), Feather & Father Gang (Det. Benton, 1977), Switch (1977), All in the Family (Leo, 1977), Dog & Cat (Pete Roder, 1977), The Waltons (Rev. Ezekiel Henshaw, 1976), Streets of San Francisco (Vernon, 1976), S.W.A.T. (1976), Mobile One (Mickie Scanlon, 1976), Medical Center (Danny Taggert, 1976), Joe Forrester (John Mason, 1976), Hawaii Five-O (Harris, 1976), Medical Center (Lochner, 1975), Egan (1974, pilot), The Sixth Sense (1974), Police Story (Rush, 1974), The Magician (Jim Russell, 1974), Kojak (Pinky Halloran, 1974), Doc Elliott (1974), The Mod Squad (Johnny Wexler), Hawk (John Polanski, 1970), N.Y.P.D. (Gary Doyle, 1967), The Verdict is Yours (1969), The Interns (Dr. Willard Forster, 1970), Dr. Kildare (1969), Kraft Theatre: Man in the Square (Hungarian Refugee, 1967), N.Y.P.D. (Police Captain, 1966), Hawk, Trails of O'Brien, The Gallent Men, Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Patriots (Ned, 1963), Stoney Burke, East Side-West Side, Brenner, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Camera Three, The Detectives, The Big Story (1958), The Naked City (1958), Dupont Show of the Week.
TV FILMS: The Covergirl and the Cop (Jack Wingo, 1989), Babycakes (Al, 1989), Police Story: Burnout (Captain Fenton, 1988), Downpayment on Murder (Albert Ruskin, 1987), Daddy (Mike, 1987), Welcome Home Bobby (1986), Return of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (Simon Chapel, 1986), Hostage Flight (Di Salvo, 1985), Attack on Fear (1984), Miss Lonelyhearts (1984), Winds of War (Pilot Ed, 1983, miniseries), Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story (Uncle George, 1982), American Dream (Coach Rattner, 1981), Long Days of Summer (Duane Haley, 1980), Supertrain (Agent Quinn, 1979), Return of the Mod Squad (Marty, 1979), Last Ride of the Dalton Gang (Charlie Powers, 1979), When Every Day Was the Fourth of July (1978), Trial of Gen. George Custer Armstrong (1978), Kansas City Massacre (Sam Cowley, 1975), Trilogy of Terror (Thomas Anman, 1975), Delancey Street: The Crisis Within (Richard Copell, 1975, pilot), Nightmare at 1943 Hillcrest (Frank Linwood, 1974), Melvin Purvis G-Man (Anthony Redecci, 1974), Invasion of Carol Enders (David, 1974), Frankenstein (Otto Roget, 1974), Picture of Dorian Gray (Alan Campbell, 1973), Shirts/Skins (Herbie Bush, 1973), Night of Terror (Pete Manning, 1972), The Mask of Marcella.
SCREEN: Daughters of Darkness (Stefan Chiltern, 1970), House of Dark Shadows (Willie Loomis, 1970), Night of Dark Shadows (Alex Jenkins, 1971), A Small Town in Texas (Lenny, 1976), Pennies from Heaven (The Detective, 1981), Gimme an F (Bucky Berkshire, 1983), Impulse (1984), Racing with the Moon (Mr. Nash, 1984), Native Son (Max, 1987).
THEATER: The Golden Six (Lucius, 1958), A Clearing in the Woods (The Boy, 1959), Season of Choice (J.D. Pritchett, 1959), Twelfth Night (Fabian, 1959), Caligula (1964), Marat/Sade (1964), Talking to You (1964), All in Good Time (Geoffrey Fitton, 1965), Postmark Zero (ten roles, 1965), Prometheus Bound (Prometheus, 1965), Slight Ache (1965), Monopoly (1966), 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (Sorenzo, 1967), The Subject was Roses (1968), Young Married Play Monopoly (Joe), Suburban Tragedy.
BROADWAY: The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (stage managed, 1964), Luther (1964), Arturo Uti (Shorty, 1963), Sweet Bird of Youth (1960), Invitation to a March (1960).