Dark Shadows the Jonathan Frid Story is coming in October
The life of the actor who portrayed the vampire Barnabas Collins will be explored in a new documentary.
Jonathan Frid portrayed the vampire Barnabas Collins in the daytime soap opera DARK SHADOWS which ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971. The show became an immediate hit and an average of 2 million viewers tuned in each weekday afternoon. They were eager to find out what was taking place at the Collinwood estate in Maine. Frid was the most popular character as the 175-year-old vampire, who had unintentionally been released, from his chained coffin. Frid and the show are now being profiled in a documentary titled DARK SHADOWS AND BEYOND - THE JONATHAN FRID STORY.
The biographical film will be available on October 5, 2021, on digital platforms, Blue-Ray, and MPI Home Video DVD. There is one aspect to Frid's life, however, that remained private and may not be addressed in the documentary. He was romantically involved from 1958-1959 with fellow Canadian actor Raymond Burr who starred in Perry Mason. Frid never discussed his sexual preference but at times it was said of him that he "loved the ladies." Some friends referred to him as asexual but what is known for a fact is that he never married or had children.
Jonathan was also in the 1970 movie HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and in the Broadway plays Wait Until Dark and Murder in the Cathedral. He portrayed a psychiatrist on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns and in 1973, appeared in the TV movie The Devil's Daughter. In 1974 he was in the film SEIZURE. He returned to Canada in 1978 but moved to New York in the early 1980s. Frid received a Master's Degree in Directing from Yale.
The actor was quoted as saying that Barbabas Collins was not a tortured vampire but "A man with a secret." It has been said of Frid that his life was cloaked in a much mystery as his character and some believe his comment of "a man with a secret" was about his own life. The year after Burr and Frid went their separate ways the Perry Mason star began a private 33-year relationship with Robert Benevides and never spoke in public about either man. It was believed that Mason was forced into marriage earlier in his life so that fans would not know that he was gay.
John Herbert Frid was born on December 2, 1924, in Canada. He died on April 14, 2012, due to pneumonia after a fall. His final role was in that same year in the film Dark Shadows. The television series was popular and gained a cult following because it was different from traditional soap operas which were basically about love in the afternoon. Dark Shadows, however, had its focus on the supernatural, magic, and the undead. The 2012 movie, however, was a box office failure.
In 2004 and in 2007, Dark Shadows was ranked #19 and #23 respectively on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows EverDark Shadows was popular because of the melodramatic performances of the actors, as well as the atmospheric interiors, memorable storylines, and the many dramatic twists in the plot. Viewers also loved the eerie music the heroic adventures and the cast of characters. The original network run of the show lasted close to five years and ran 1,225 weekly episodes. It was said of Frid that his personal life was shrouded in as much secrecy as his television character.
The television series ended after five years because series creator Dan Curtis said he ran out of ideas for the storylines. During an interview related to the release of the show on DVD, Curtis said the following:
"I didn’t know what else I was going to do, I couldn’t think of another idea and I was becoming very disenchanted right along with the audience. People didn’t see a lot of me during that last six months of the show. I was just hoping it was going to end. I couldn’t squeeze my brain any harder to come up with just one more story. I just wanted to move on and out.”
It will be interesting to find out what the new documentary has uncovered about the actor as well as the series.