Jonathan Frid, Original Barnabas Collins of 'Dark Shadows,' Dead at 87

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"Dark Shadows" actor Jonathan Frid has passed away at the age of 87. His family released the news that the legendary star died April 13 of natural causes at Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. After playing vampire Barnabas Collins on the gothic horror soap opera for four years, starring in Oliver Stone's directorial debut "Seizure," and a TV-movie entitled "The Devil's Daughter," the actor retired from Hollywood and returned to his native Canada to perform in the theater.

His death came a few weeks away from his first appearance in a movie in 38 years. Frid has a cameo in the upcoming big-screen version of Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows." He recently posted on his official website he looked forward to attending the premiere of the film. The screening will no doubt be turned into a tribute to the actor now as well.

Ironically, April 18 was the 45th anniversary of the first appearance of Frid in 1967 as Barnabas Collins on "Dark Shadows." He appeared at the end of episode 211 on the doorstep of Collinwood Manor, claiming to be a cousin visiting from England. Little did they know then who they had invited into their ancestral home.

"Dark Shadows" premiered in 1966 as a gothic soap opera. After producers were told the show was failing, they made one last go at giving it an edge. They decided to add a vampire to the cast to spice things up. Much to their surprise, their desperate attempt paid off and the show went on to be a cult classic, running until 1971 and inspiring two feature films.

Only 1970's "House of Dark Shadows" featured the character of Barnabas Collins. According to an interview with co-star Kathryn Leigh Scott, "He didn't even want to do the second 'Dark Shadows' movie ("Night of Dark Shadows") in 1971. He though the first one was too violent and he fought against that the whole time, he made no bones about that with (producer) Dan Curtis. He was very disappointed with 'House of Dark Shadows' which was quite a successful film. It saved MGM the year it came out, it was a huge success."

After the show ended, fans kept the show alive by hosting "Dark Shadows" conventions. Frid and the other actors were regular guests at these events. They would sign autographs and perform script reads for audiences of thousands at a time.

A couple of his co-stars from the show responded to the news right away. David Selby, who starred as ghost / werewolf Quentin Collins on the show from 1968 to 1971, said via a statement on his official Facebook, "We are saddened to pass along the news that Jonathan Frid, who portrayed vampire Barnabas Collins on 'Dark Shadows' has died."

Kathryn Leigh Scott, who starred in the show from episode one in 1966 through 1970, posted a lengthy tribute to Frid on her blog. She wrote, "May Jonathan Frid, our "reluctant vampire," live in our hearts! How blessed I am to have known this dear man and to have such wonderful memories of him, both on screen and off. I am so grateful to have worked with Jonathan, and to have known him as the charismatic, entertaining, complex, and plain spoken man that he was. I love you, Jonathan. Rest in peace."

For more articles by Eric Shirey , check out:

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Eric Shirey is the founder and former editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites and His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics,, and other entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, Brooke Shields, Gerard Butler , Brendan Fraser, Selena Gomez, and many more.

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