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'Dark Shadows' Jonathan Frid dies on Friday the 13th at age 87

Jonathan FridJonathan Frid, the man known to fans around the world as Barnabas Collins, the suave vampire from the cult hit soap opera "Dark Shadows" has died at age 87.

The Hamilton Spectator, of Hamilton, Ontario, reports the Canadian actor died in his hometown of Hamilton at the Juravinski Hospital on Friday, April 13.

Frid's final screen role was a cameo in "Dark Shadows," the soap opera's upcoming big-screen revamp  directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas.

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Kathryn Leigh Scott, who co-starred with Frid on the original "Dark Shadows" and recently reunited with him to film her own cameo in the film, paid loving tribute to the actor on her website.

"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," she wrote. "What fun we had working together! He was irascible, irreverent, funny, caring, lovable and thoroughly professional."

Scott recalled the moment when Frid and Depp first met on the "Dark Shadows" set: "I won't ever forget the moment when the two Barnabas Collinses met, one in his late 80s and the other in his mid-40s, each with their wolf's head canes. Jonathan took his time scrutinizing his successor's appearance. 'I see you've done the hair,' Jonathan said to Johnny Depp, 'but a few more spikes.' Depp, entirely in character, replied, 'Yes, we're doing things a bit differently.'"

Frid also starred in director Oliver Stone's feature directing debut, the horror movie "Seizure," in 1974.

The soap opera ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971. Originally conceived as a straightforward gothic soap opera by creator Dan Curtis, it languished in the ratings until Curtis began adding supernatural elements, first a ghost, and then Barnabas Collins. Frid joined the show in 1967 and it began to take off as a cult hit, especially with younger children, who rushed home from school to watch the show.

Outside of the Barnabas role, Frid had an extensive stage career, including a Broadway and national tour of "Arsenic and Old Lace" in the mid-1980s.

Frid began organizing staged readings of plays, poems and stories at "Dark Shadows" fan gatherings in the early 1980s. The "Readers Theater" became a replacement for the Q&As with fans, which Frid had grown bored with. The shows, which also included scenes from Shakespearean plays and Edgar Allan Poe short stories, was one of Frid's great passions in his later years.

Frid also maintained his website up until just a few months before his death, posting regular updates and communicating with his fans.

Below is a clip of Frid's first appearance on "Dark Shadows" from April 18, 1967.

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-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows." Credit: ABC

 
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