Characters: Countess Natalie DuPres 1795, Magda
Rakosi 1897, Julia Hoffman 1970 Parallel Time,
Julia Collins 1841 Parallel Time (pictured), Dr.
Julia Hoffman House of Dark Shadows, Carlotta Drake
Night of Dark Shadows
intelligent, Dr. Julia Hoffman's demure and distant visage
masks a woman of loyalty and passion. Driven by an insatiable
desire for discovery, and a covert love for Barnabas Collins,
she remains a loyal confidante. Faced with a choice between
loyalty to her profession or Barnabas, she frequently forced
to pledge allegiance to her friend, with sometimes-fatal consequences
for those around her. Not beyond manipulation to achieve her
ends, Julia's is a complex character truly understood by few
around her, including Barnabas.
Hall was born Shirley
Grossman on 18 September 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
and was interested in acting from an early age. When, at the
age of 11, her declaration that "I want to be on the stage"
was met with polite laughter, she demanded silence with a
deafening scream. Even at an early age, the distinctive, strong
character so many remember her for was plainly evident.
Graduating from the
Simon Gratz High School, she appeared in plays at the local
Templeton University, before formally becoming a student of
Cornell University, where she majored in drama. She elected
not to complete her study at Cornell, instead moving to New
York, where she began acting in regional theatre and television
under the name Shirley Grayson. In 1951, when appearing at
Yale University in Our Betters, she met her future
husband Sam Hall. The couple married in 1953, whereupon she
adopted Grayson Hall as her professional name.
in carving out a minor niche for herself as an avant-garde
film actress, receiving an Oscar nomination for her 1964 role
as Judith Fellowes in John Huston's Night of the Iguana.
Her other film credits included Run Across the River (1961credited
as Shirley Grayson), That Darn Cat (1965), Qui êtes-vous,
Polly Magoo? (1966) and The End of the Road (1968).
By the time she joined the Dark Shadows cast in 1967,
she was already a seasoned television actress, having appeared
in Lights Out! Curtain Call, Studio One Lucky Strike,
Star Tonight, The Man from UNCLE, The Girl From UNCLE
and Back to Back.
For Night of Dark
Shadows, Grayson and Sam took part in an extensive promotional
tour, where she frequently appeared in costume and make-up
as Carlotta Drake, thespian excesses humorously intact. Following
the cancellation of Dark Shadows, Grayson enjoyed a
more sedate career, performing in commercials, film and theatre.
She was keenly interested in interior design, and her homes
were filled with unusual décor and furnishings"Auntie
Mame meets Charles Addams" was Alexandra
Moltke's wry assessment. Grayson's country home Wildercliff
was even featured in Architectural Digest.
Her credits during
this time included roles in Gargoyles (1972), a stint
on All My Children in 1973, The Two Deaths of Sean
Doolittle (1974) and The Great Ice Rip-Off (1974).
Her theatre work at this time included roles in The Sea,
What Every Woman Knows, The Leaf People, Rib Cage (with
David Selby) The Suicide and Happy End.
claiming that she would never work with husband Sam again,
Grayson apparently had a change of heart and joined the cast
of One Life to Live in 1982 in the role of Euphemia
Ralston. At the time, Sam Hall was the show's head writer.
In 1985, Grayson essayed
her final role in a production of Jean Giraudoux's Madwoman
of Chaillot at the Theatre at St. Peter's Church,
but was forced to withdraw after a short time due to illness,
when it was discovered that she was dying of lung cancer.
Grayson passed away on 7 August 1985 in New York.
In 2006, R.J. Jamison documented Grayson's life extensively in Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow, a full-length biography.