More Tributes to Jonathan Frid

Since the news of Jonathan Frid’s death yesterday, there have been several tributes. Here’s some links to a few of my favorites:

  • Johnny Depp issued the following statement: “Jonathan Frid was the reason I used to run home from school to watch Dark Shadows. His elegance and grace was an inspiration then and will continue to remain one forever more. When I had the honour to finally meet him, as he so generously passed the torch of Barnabas to me, he was as elegant and magical as I had always imagined. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. The world has lost a true original.” Classy.
  • This article, from Jonathan’s hometown newspaper The Spec, is an excellent illustration of his everyday life. It also includes many great quotes and anecdotes from Frid’s nephews and friends.
  • Collinwood.net’s reflections on Jonathan’s passing and enduring legacy here.
  • Matthew Hall, son of Sam (original Dark Shadows writer) and Grayson (Dr. Julia Hoffman) and also a writer on the Dark Shadows revival series, recorded a few memories of Jonathan here.
  • Lara Parker recently launched a new website and blog. She posted her own moving tribute to Jonathan here.
  • David Selby’s poignant letter to Jonathan on his blog here. I think this is my favorite.
  • And as linked below in my post about Jonathan, Kathryn Leigh Scott paid tribute to her colleague and friend on her blog here.

I’m sure the tributes will keep coming–something that probably would have baffled and humbled Mr. Frid. I was saddened to find an envelope from Dark Shadows in the mail last night. It was full of advertisements, promoting various books and audio dramas about Dark Shadows, the Dark Shadows movie première party in Los Angeles in a few weeks (wish I could go!), and “A Day at Collinwood” event in July–with special appearances by Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and Jonathan Frid. 

I’m still working through yet another rewatch of the 1795 storyline, and I reached the end of a disc, which always includes a bonus interview with one of the actors or crew members. This particular disc included an interview with Jonathan Frid in which he discusses his introduction to the show. He finished a production of The Tempest as Caliban and decided to further pursue his academic career when his agent informed him of the opportunity to audition for Dark ShadowsHow strange it is that I am finishing yet another study of that particular Shakespeare play. And how I would have loved to see Frid as Caliban! What an extraordinarily talented man he was. He will be missed.

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Remembering Jonathan Frid: 1924-2012

Jonathan Frid died peacefully in his sleep last week on April 13, aged 87. The news was unleashed early this morning, led by Kathryn Leigh Scott’s tribute to Mr. Frid on her blog. As fate would have it, yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of a stranger, introducing himself as a cousin from England, arriving at the great house of Collinwood.

“Oh, madam–if you would, you may tell her that it’s Barnabas Collins.” 

Jonathan Frid will always be best remembered for his portrayal of the reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins, a role intended to last only a few weeks in a last-ditch attempt to boost the ratings of a failing show. Just as that hand–with its signature black onyx ring–grasped Willie Loomis by the throat, however, Frid too grasped us all and held us there for the duration of the show. He was the show’s undisputed star. He was the reason so many kids ran home to watch Dark Shadows. He was the reason so many people fell in love with the show through re-runs, VHS tapes, and finally DVD sets. He was the reason I wanted to hop on bus to New York as an 8-year-old to attend a Dark Shadows Festival at which he would be appearing. (Guess who didn’t let me go? That’s right. Mom and Dad thought I was a little young to be going to New York by myself. Oh well, we will meet on the flip side, Jonathan.)

Starring Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins, just as it should be. 

This is not to disregard all the other talented actors who appeared on the show (and there were many), but Barnabas Collins was the heart of the show. His cruelty and kindness drove the show’s storylines. And he was played to perfection by Jonathan Frid. There were, of course, technical mishaps, flubbed lines, and wandering flies, all of which endear rather than taint the show, yet the performances of the actors–most of all Frid–transcend those imperfections. The audience fears Barnabas, pities him, and ultimately loves him as if he were a member of their own family–all because of the great skill and conviction with which Frid portrayed him.

I started re-watching the 1795 storyline this week. It breaks my heart every time to see Barnabas robbed of happiness and mortality. Mr. Frid was, I think, blessed with both of those things. He leaves behind a remarkable, unforgettable body of work and legions of dedicated fans whose lives he indelibly touched. May he rest in peace.

Love ya, JFrid. Always.

Return to Collinwood

About a month ago, I posted about a life-changing event in my life: the arrival of Return to Collinwood, with an inscription from Kathryn Leigh Scott. OK, so it wasn’t really life-changing, but it was pretty darn cool. And exciting, especially at the time.

(OK, so Michael Jackson didn’t come over to my house to use the bathroom. But his sister did! Just had to get that out.)

I also promised to gush about this wonderful book as soon as I had a chance to read it. Well, I read it. Also about a month ago. In one sitting. Am I really that obsessed or was it just that compelling of a read? I’d like to think the answer is a healthy mixture of both. My love for Dark Shadows is never-ending, to the point that each time I feel the warmth of the fireplace I instantly think of Angelique exacting revenge or just ruining somebody’s life for pleasure by the fire, yet I learned so much from this insightful book.

Return to Collinwood is an engaging overview of five decades of Dark Shadows, from the original gothic soap opera (my one true luuuuurve) to the two feature films derived from the series to the 1991 revival to the failed 2004 re-reivival to the upcoming Burton-Depp film adaptation. While it is largely written by Kathryn Leigh Scott, it also features contributions from fellow original cast members Jonathan Frid, David Selby, and Lara Parker, all of whom filmed cameos for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows film.

Scott and Parker both detail the filming of the cameo in the book. They write of how respectful the cast and crew were, how grand and awe-inspiring the set was, and what an overall wonderful experience it was. (There are also some really great pictures of David Selby getting his hair and makeup done. Love that guy.) Their recollections of their experience on the Depp-Burton film is what gives me the most hope for the movie. I actually finished reading the book before the trailer was released, and so I was ultra-surprised by its contents, as Leigh and Parker are so complimentary of the film. It’s hard to believe we’re now less than a month away from the film’s release date!

I just learned so much from this book. Let’s see…

David Selby is a beautiful man. Oh, wait I already knew that! Seriously, though, Dark Shadows garnered 20 million viewers in the summer of 1969. The storyline? The Victorian Nightmare of 1897 which also happens to be my favorite. I had no idea that many people watched the show, but I understand. I mean, David Selby? Sideburns? Come on.

(By the way, L.A. Times columnist Geoff Boucher wrote a column about Dark Shadows, claiming that if the show were airing today it would merely attract outsiders and youth goths. Huh? Read Kathryn Leigh Scott’s great retort here, which the L.A. Times also published. Go KLS!)

That same year, Original Music From Dark Shadows reached #18 on the Billboard album chart, with the instrumental “Quentin’s Theme” (you know, the song Quentin plays repeatedly on his gramophone while getting drunk) peaking at #13 on the singles chart. Wow! Did gramophone sales also skyrocket? Probably.

Bad things happen when you overrule/question the judgement of Dan Curtis. Please see the 1991 revival series. For further reference examine the failed Dark Shadows pilot for CW in 2004. B-A-D. Like, worse than being on Angelique’s bad side. Whoa.

Jonathan Frid is basically an old man diva. I just think that’s so awesome. It took a lot of convincing to get him to sign onto the Burton-Depp film, and once he endured the plane ride to England for filming he was so exhausted he wanted to go home immediately. And he demanded that he see a script! Love you, JFrid.

KLS & JFrid Filming House of Dark Shadows

Kathryn Leigh Scott shares relevant diary entries written during The House of Dark Shadows. I love how she talks about eating whatever she wanted just to fatten up to annoy Roger Davis. She really hated Roger Davis. Or, at least, he got on her nerves. A lot. It’s good to know that I’m not alone. Both in eating whatever I want and hating Roger Davis.

Speaking of eating whatever ya want, Kathryn Leigh Scott talks about one of her first days on the set, eating a pastry. Joan Bennett told her that in order for her (Bennett) to maintain the figure she had at 20 she had to be more careful about what she ate. KLS dropped the rest of that pastry in the trash. Joan Bennett brought a cup of homemade chicken noodle soup to the set everyday for lunch. Joan Bennett must have been so cool. I mean, she slapped Lieutenant Nathan Forbes ‘n’ all. Just sayin’.

KLS has snapshots like these lying around her house. Ummmm, can I come over sometime? This is so cool. Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott, and John Karlen just strolling like the cool cats that they are. While KLS wrote about how much she hated (more like annoyed–I doubt she really hated the guy, as she just seems too darn nice to really hate anyone and the entries were most likely inflamed by stress) Roger Davis during House of Dark Shadows, she also wrote about how much she loved Jonathan Frid and John Karlen, her two favorite actors to work with on the show. Awwwwwwwwwwwww. I wish John Karlen had a cameo in the new film. Actually, I wish John Karlen were reprising his role as Willie Loomis in the new film. The world always needs more John Karlen.

Ultimately, I learned so much from this book–I should have taken detailed notes so I could remember it all. But I just couldn’t stop reading long enough to get out a pen and paper. And I just wanted to enjoy it. I think the most poignant thing I learned–or, rather, realized– while reading the book, though, was just how much I love this show. I’m getting all teary-eyed just thinking about Willie letting Barnabas out of his coffin…

Championship #8: Won and Done

Petting Coach Cal

My preciousssss! 

If this doesn’t make your heart flutter with joy, then there must be something wrong with you. Like you must be a Jayhawks fan. Or you don’t have a soul. Or something.

Last night–in case you were living under a rock or busy picking your nose–the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team won their eighth national title championship, defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59. This is the Wildcats’ first title since Tubby Smith’s “Comeback Cats” of ’98 and Coach John Calipari’s first title ever, despite traveling to the Final Four four times with three different schools.

Critics of Coach Cal, otherwise known as the best and coolest coach in college basketball, have condemned him for his failure to win a championship, even with rosters full of “one-and-done” players en route to the NBA. Those critics have now been silenced, as he won his first title with a roster of six potential first-round NBA draft picks (three of whom are freshman). Booyah.

“This is not about me. This is about these 13 players,” Calipari said, however. “This is about the Big Blue Nation.”

Yes, last night was about those players who played as unselfishly and tenaciously as they had all season. Last night was about Anthony Davis scoring just one of 10 field goals and still being crowned Most Valuable Player (having 16 rebounds, six blocks, and five assists might have helped). Last night was about Terrence Jones hustling to save a loose ball, just stolen from Kentucky, from going out-of-bounds, reclaiming the possession. Last night was about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist blocking Tyshawn Taylor’s layup in the final minute. Last night was about Doron Lamb scoring a pair of consecutive three-pointers (get yer three goggles out!) to generate momentum for the Wildcats, who had scored just seven points in nine minutes of play during the second half. Last night was about Marquis Teague landing a big three-pointer after an 8-0 run in a little more than a minute for Kansas with just four seconds remaining on the shot clock. Last night was about Darius Miller holding the entire team together–again–and possibly being the most excited person on that floor for the win, yet still having the class to be the sole Kentucky player to go and shake the hands of his opponents. Last night was not about individual players breaking their scoring records. Last night was about each player doing whatever he could to help his team win when not scoring. Last night was not about teammates playing for themselves but teammates playing for each other.

And those young players were able to do that because of their talent, their commitment to each other and the sport, and their coach, who moulded them into even better players as the year progressed. The best players, the best team, and the best coach finally won the national title, as it should be. This championship is a testament to their hard work and talent. They deserve this championship.

“I don’t know of any team that has sacrificed for each other like this team, and they deserve this moment, they really do,” Calipari said.

Ditto.

But Coach Cal deserved that moment, too. Terrence Jones spoke about how devastating their one-point loss to UConn in the Final Four was last year, driving him to return to UK for another year. This year, he wanted things to be different.

“I want to win it for him,” Jones told reporters Sunday. “He deserves it.”

Ditto.

Kentucky Wildcats Celebrate!

It’s been a pleasure watching this phenomenal class of talent this season (it’d be nice if ya’ll came back–not holding my breath, though), and I’m going to miss watching them play together as a team. I get all misty-eyed just thinking about it. Thanks for an ah-maz-ing season, guys.

P.S. How utterly refreshing was it that we did not see Ashley Judd once during the title game? Or we didn’t have an interview with her during a key moment in the game like when–oh, I don’t know–the opponent’s coach is given a technical foul? (See the second round game against Iowa State.) It’s great that she’s a fan of the greatest college basketball program in the country and all but so is Steve Zahn. And Steve Zahn is way cooler. But we don’t have to interview him and flash the camera on him every time he shows up to a game. Geeze Louise.