Parallel Time, Barnabas
House of Dark Shadows
Cursed as a vampire
by vengeful mistress Angélique Bouchard, Barnabas Collins
is a character marked by his duality. At once callous and
compassionate, lonely and furtive, his greatest conflict is
with the darker forces his curse unleashes, and the struggle
to maintain his personality in spite of them. Released from
eternal imprisonment in 1967, he acquaints himself with the
present day Collins family, beginning a journey towards personal
freedom and redemption. He remains fiercely protective of
his surrogate family, and haunted by the shadow his curse
casts over the lives of all who live at Collinwood.
Frid was born John
Herbert Frid on 2 December 1924, in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada.
Cast in a prep school play, the shy youth found new presence,
delivering a powerful performance. Spurred by this success,
he continued to act, showing great range and an affinity for
older characters and villains. His work for the Hamilton Players
received critical attention, winning him an award for Best
Throughout World War II, Frid served in the Canadian Navy,
later attending the Canadian McMaster University, where he
was a prominent figure in the drama society. Following his
graduation in 1948, he was accepted at the Royal Academy of
Dramatic Arts, in London. Relocating to Britain, he joined
a national tour of The Third Man and spent a year in
repertory theatre. He later studied at the Lorne Greene Academy
of Radio Arts, before earning an MFA in directing at the Yale
School of Drama.
Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Frid continued to work
in the theatre, essaying roles in many plays, including The
Merchant of Venice, Auntie Mame, The Rainmaker, As You Like
It, Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, The
Heiress, Much Ado About Nothing and the title role
in Richard III, his favourite role. He also made appearances
on television in both the States and Canada.
At this time, Frid's ambition was to become a professor of
drama and direct professionally. However, the offer of a 13-week
stint as 'guest' villain Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows
was to intervene, cementing his place in cult television folklore.
Following Dark Shadows, Jonathan appeared in the films
Seizure and The Devil's Daughter, along with
more theatre work, including Murder in the Cathedral
and Wait Until Dark. He spent the years that followed
travelling, living in Canada and Mexico. Towards the end of
the 1970s, Frid began experimenting with staged readings of
classic texts, which came at the same time as the rising of
the Dark Shadows convention circuit. Over the next
few years, he would build on these experiments at events,
homing his own unique brand of Reader's Theatre.
In 1986, Jonathan Frid formed Clunes Associates with Mary
O'Leary, to properly market his Reader's Theatre productions,
eventually building three distinct shows; Fridiculousness,
Fools and Fiends and Jonathan Frid's Shakespearean
Odyssey, which toured around the United States. This upshot
in activity coincided with a starring role in the 1987 Broadway
production of Arsenic and Old Lace, which proved a
box office smash, eventually touring for 10 months.
In 1993, Jonathan realised his dream of directing, with a
production of The Lion in Winter, which starred Dark
Shadows cast-mate Marie Wallace.
Soon afterwards, he entered semi-retirement, relocating from
New York to his homeland of Ontario, Canada, where he continues
to reside. In recent years, he has formed Charity Associates,
through which he continues to perform his acclaimed 'Reader's
Theatre' shows to raise money for worthy causes.
In 1999, he began collaboration with writer Malia Howard on
a full career biography, Jonathan Frid, an Actor's Curious
Journey, which was published in 2001. 1999 also saw him
inducted into the McMaster Alumni Gallery for his continued
devotion to acting. In 2000, he returned to the stage for
a brief engagement in the play Mass Appeal. He
is currently involved in his official
website, located at jonathanfrid.com,
and continues to make Reader's Theatre appearances in both
Canada and the USA.
· Click on the thumbnails to
view the full-size image
Frid takes a stroll in Central Park in a shoot for
Paperback Library's 1969 book Jonathan Frid: A Personal
Picture Album. Courtesy of Dean Wilson
a rare 1968 interview with Jonathan Frid click