(Reuters/The Wrap) Jonathan Frid, who played vampire Barnabas Collins on the cult classic TV show “Dark Shadows,” has died. He was 87.
Frid died just weeks before the release of a feature film adaptation of the show starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton. His “Dark Shadows” co-star, Kathryn Leigh Scott, told TheWrap he died Friday — Friday the 13th, she wryly noted — and said his family had not wanted to release the news earlier.
She said he died in a hospital following a fall at his home near Toronto.
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, Frid met Depp, who is taking on the role of Barnabas.
“I think the most poignant moment was standing with Jonathan when we met Johnny Depp and Tim Burton,” she said. “He gazed at Johnny Depp’s makeup and said, ‘I see you’ve given the hair a few more spikes.’ And Johnny said, ‘Yes, we’re going a few things differently’.”
“Both Johnny Depp and Tim Burton looked at Jonathan and said, ‘We wouldn’t be here without you’,” she recalled.
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.
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 bloodlust. 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.
Though best known for “Dark Shadows,” Frid also appeared in other television roles and in movies including Oliver Stone’s directorial debut, the 1974 horror film “Seizure.” He was praised for his work in a Broadway revival of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
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 and keep fans informed of his daily life with an utterly charming website.
His “Dark Shadows” cameo will be his last onscreen appearance.