Jonathan Frid, played Barnabas Collins on ‘Dark Shadows,’ dies at 87

April 19, 2012

Jonathan Frid, 87, who played vampire Barnabas Collins on the TV show “Dark Shadows,” died April 13 at a hospital in his native Hamilton, Ontario. He was 87.

His “Dark Shadows” co-star Kathryn Leigh Scott confirmed the death but did not disclose the cause.

Mr. Frid died just weeks before the release of a feature film adaptation of the show, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton.

Mr. Frid and Scott, along with their castmates, traveled to England in July to shoot cameos for the film, which will be released May 11. During the filming, Mr. Frid met Depp, who is taking on the role of Barnabas.

The new film is an update of a show as beloved for its spooky tone and languid pacing as it was for its sometimes slipshod production values. Fans obsess over mistakes that somehow made it to air. The daytime serial ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971.

Mr. Frid’s Collins cut through the occasional silliness. A 200-year-old mourning the loss of his true love, Collins evolved during the show into an often sympathetic antihero, capable of kindness and bravery despite his blood lust.

His high cheekbones and modish haircut made him seem part tragic, part vampire of the ’60s. Originally supposed to appear on the show only briefly, he soon became its main focus.

John Herbert Frid was born Dec. 2, 1924. After graduating from McMaster University in Hamilton, he received a master’s degree in directing from the Yale School of Drama.

He appeared in regional theaters throughout North America before his success on “Dark Shadows.”

Mr. Frid also appeared in other television roles and in movies including Oliver Stone’s directorial debut, the 1974 horror film “Seizure.”

He also performed readings at “Dark Shadows” conventions, which became increasingly popular beginning in the 1980s.

He moved back to Canada in his later years, where he continued to act in plays.

— From staff and wire reports

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