My friend Catherine Artman wrote this tribute to a late actor recently, and wasn't sure where it could go. She asked if it could go here. I thought about it and said, why not? I always like presenting different viewpoints. I remember other kids talking about "Dark Shadows" when I was a youngster, but was too busy watching "The Three Stooges" to notice.
I got to see Jonathan Frid in person before he died.
I Iived in Buffalo for years, and the actor, who played the vampire Barnabas Collins on "Dark Shadows" from 1967 through ’71, lived in nearby Hamilton, Ontario. Do you think I ever crossed the Canadian border and stalked him? No, I did not. I waited until he made a public appearance, and then I paid money to see him recite poetry.
In 2009, Frid headlined a "Dark Shadows" convention in Elizabeth, N.J. I was in the area that weekend, accompanying a friend who had a Manhattan trade show to attend.
While my pal went off to the International Gift Fair to play with the latest toys, I drove to a hotel in Elizabeth to gawk at 1960s TV actors. It was the perfect arrested-development weekend.
Frid, who was 87 when he died this past April 14, still had the self-effacing charm and wonderful voice I remembered from the TV show.
I'm not happy that Barnabas is being portrayed in Johnny Depp's new movie as Jack Sparrow-meets-Austin Powers. But I'm glad the movie was made, because it keeps "Dark Shadows" alive — or undead, at least. It reminds people of the ’60s series and related ’70s movies, and even the brief 1991 TV revival, and it gives a coming generation a new layer of "Shadows" material to build on. I don't have to like what Depp's movie does with Collinwood's characters to appreciate that it supports the motto of fandom: “ ‘Dark Shadows’” forever!”
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