Fangs. A dark tiered-coat. A silver, wolf’s-head cane. Evening prowling in shadows, moonlight and mist. Creeping around crypts and caskets, through dust motes, cobwebs, and fluttering bats. And, of course, all that fabulous necking!
Oh! I beg your pardon! I meant neck-nipping!
All of these things were trademarks of the world’s longest-loved vampire, Barnabas Collins, a leading character in the exceptionally popular ’60s and ’70s gothic series, Dark Shadows.
And, why did we, and do we still, love Barnabas? Well, because of Canadian actor, Jonathan Frid.
Mr. Frid developed the character into something far more faceted than what producer, Dan Curtis, ever intended it to be. Mr. Curtis wanted a monster who was just a basically bad monster. One who ran around biting people and drinking their blood in some sort of animalistic feeding frenzy. At least that’s what my research has turned up.
Jonathan Frid went way past that idea. Once he got his teeth into the character, Barnabas went through a transformation. He made him dominant, fierce, and strong, but equally vulnerable, seductive, and sensual.
Thanks to Mr. Frid, Barnabas Collins proved to be both a lover, and a biter!
If the role had been played out as it’s been said Dan Curtis intended it to be, Barnabas Collins would likely never have become the internationally-adored sensation that he did. It was Mr. Frid’s interpretation and enhancements to the character that made him more than a monster and endeared him to his fans. He had us hooked on Barnabas from his very first knock on the door of Collinwood manor.
In fact, Mr. Frid was so effective in making creepy become cool, that he induced fans by the score to be creepy-cool as well, without even intending to. Many of them still are! I can’t fathom how many orders jewelers must have received to produce rings to match the black and sliver one Barnabas wore, or canes with the silver wolf’s head for a handle.
Mr. Frid re-sculpted Barnabas Collins. He gave him depth, passion, elegance and intense sex appeal. In doing so, he ended having girls around the globe nearly swooning en masse over Barnabas and his biting. And the guys, well, the poor guys were stuck doing their best to emulate him.
Chances are, most failed because the dark and brooding, incredibly confident, well-heeled and ultra-classy Barnabas, was a near-impossible character to compete with. There is one exception though, that being actor/author, Dr. David Selby.
David Selby brought a new and edgy aspect to the show in later years, starring in the role of that handsome but menacing shape-shifter, Quentin Collins, the werewolf. It wasn’t long after Quentin’s introduction to the show that he had the girls howling after him, and the guys trying to sprout their own impressive set of sideburns.
Frid-fans managed to make room for the role of Quentin, without jeopardizing their love for Barnabas. They’re generous that way.
According to Mr. Frid’s quotes (the book is chock-full of them, by the way), he wasn’t at all happy about being so popular in relevance to a vampire. However, it couldn’t be helped. That’s what he gets for playing his parts so well. Decades later, Barnabas is still loved because of Jonathan Frid, but, Mr. Frid is also loved for his magnificent contributions to the thespian arts, away from his role as Barnabas Collins.
Thankfully the book covers Mr. Frid’s history and expertise in those areas too, recognizing that there was far more to Jonathan Frid’s career than Dark Shadows.
Mr. Sipos’ book has been out for a good while now, but in event next-gen Frid-fans aren’t aware of it, I want to do a bit of word spreading, and let them know this is one of the great ways to get better acquainted with the esteemed Jonathan Frid.
Sipos put the interview together beautifully, including loads of extended quotes and thoughts of Mr. Frid, and he wrote it in a way that makes the reader feel he/she has been physical pulled into the interview with them. I admit to loving the way he did that because I never had the chance to see Mr. Frid perform in person. (It is one of those things in life I’ll regret missing for the rest of mine.)
To those who are familiar with Mr. Frid’s exceptionally deep and cultured voice, you’ll likely be able to hear it, resonating in your head, as you read the content.
Amazon has the book rated as an overall 3.7 out of 5 stars, however, I was impressed with the book enough to give it a 5 star rating. I got way more than my money’s worth out of it. I downloaded it to my e-reader for $.99.
Mr. Sipos effectively relayed Mr. Frid’s passion and opinions about a great many subjects. And, his inclusions of the large narratives by Mr. Frid, surpassed my expectations. I was delighted with the book from start to finish!
Jonathan Frid walked on (as I prefer to put it) in April of 2012. Many of his fans were broken-hearted at his exit, but relieved he didn’t linger to suffer a prolonged and uncomfortable illness. This past April many of us have been involved in various remembrances of the first anniversary of his passing. A significant one of those being a large and collaborative effort to have him included in Canada’s Walk of Fame.
There are a magnitude of aspects of Mr. Frid’s work to admire, including his military service history. For those who have an appreciation (which I do) of the sacrifices made by Allied Forces veterans, here’s an FYI … Mr. Frid served as a seaman in the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII. Past his military service, much of Mr. Frid’s work efforts went into raising funds for various charities, significantly in Canada and the United States.
If you weren’t a Frid-fan before reading this, and now you are … mission accomplished.
If after reading this, you’re intrigued and excited enough to make a couple of clicks, and purchase Mr. Sipos’ book, another mission accomplished. (Don’t worry, you’ll end up being his fan too. By all means, browse a bit and investigate his other books as well.)
Perhaps after you purchase Mr. Sipos’ book, you can head over to Nancy Kersey’s blog, Hailstones and Halibut Bones. There you’ll find several other wonderful slices of the world-of-Frid you’re sure to savor.
Ms. Kersey is a magnificent writer, as well as a long-time employee and friend of Mr. Frid. She also has material to read that is not relating to Mr. Frid, but what she has written about him is a good place to start.
Give her a couple of graphs worth of your read time, and you’ll find you’ll be a new fan of her work as well, if you aren’t already. She’s well known and well circulated, so it’s very likely you’re already familiar with her literature.
That should be enough to keep you busy with something fascinating for a while.
Another mission accomplished. Enjoy!