Thayer David
Primary Series Role: Professor T Elliot Stokes 1968-1971

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Other Characters: Matthew Morgan 1966, Ben Stokes 1795, 1840, Sandor Rakosi, Count Petofi 1897 (pictured), Timothy Stokes 1970 Parallel Time, Mordecai Grimes 1840, Ben Stokes 1841 Parallel Time (pictured), Professor T Elliot Stokes House of Dark Shadows, Reverend Strack Night of Dark Shadows

The direct descendant of the 18th Century Collins servant Ben Stokes, Professor Timothy Elliot Stokes is drawn almost by destiny to the supernatural intrigue surrounding Collinwood. A lecturer at the local university, and a devoted and learned spiritualist, Stokes possesses knowledge of the arcane with a naturally inquisitive nature, and keen senses of deduction. A valued member of the Collins family social circle, he forms close ties with Barnabas and Julia, though remains ignorant of the dark secrets the pair harbour between them.

Thayer David was born David Thayer Hersey on 4 March 1927, in Medford, Massachusetts, and studied at Harvard University, though decided to concentrate on acting before completing his degree. His family disapproved of his choice of acting as a profession and asked that he change his name to spare their name. He duly obliged, adopting Thayer David for his entire professional career.

In addition to an extensive theatre resume, Thayer David earned a reputation as a dependable character actor for the theatre, film and television, and also loaned his rich, distinctive voice to numerous commercial voice-overs. On Dark Shadows
, his skills at developing new characters were called upon extensively, with him tackling more individual characters on the show than any other performer. With each, he took a special interest in costume and make-up, making detailed suggestions throughout.

David's many film credits included roles in
Baby Face Nelson (1957), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), Little Big Man (1970), Save the Tiger (1973), Rocky (1976), Fun With Dick and Jane (1977) and House Calls (1978).

His roles on the small screen included parts in
The Wild, Wild West, Kojak, The Rockford Files, Ellery Queen, The Invisible Man, Starsky and Hutch, The Amazing Spiderman, Washington: Behind Closed Doors, Roots, Columbo, The Amazing Howard Hughes, Charlie's Angels and The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries.

Thayer David was married to actress Valerie French on October 31 1969, though the couple later divorced.  Thayer David died of a heart attack on 17 July 1978 in New York City, aged just 51.  According to French, they had been planning to remarry at the time of his untimely death.

Photographs · Click on the thumbnails to view the full-size image

Thayer David guest stars in a 1976 episode of Petrocelli. .................    

With thanks to Craig Hamrick

Visit the Articles and Features section to read a rare interview with Thayer David

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