Episode 922: To My Fans, the Audience

“Barnabas never ceases to be exciting.”

My husband opens the doors to the drawing room, and finds me deep in thought, puzzling over an old book. I’m reading carefully, and transcribing some of the more difficult passages.

As he makes his way to the drinks cabinet, he asks, “Is that for the blog?” I tell him it is, and I show him the cover. He asks why I’m writing about this now, and I say that the book just came out.

“But that looks old,” he says.

“Yeah, it just came out.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m in January 1970. This was published in December 1969.”

“Oh, I see,” he says. “You were meanwhiling.” This is why our marriage works.

922 jonathan frid personal picture album cover

So here it is, the mysterious book that I brought with me from the past: a Paperback Library confection called Barnabas Collins: A Personal Picture Album. It’s got “more than 100 photographs of JONATHAN FRID at work and at play,” and it was published just in time for Christmas, a special treat for all the good children who want to know what Jonathan Frid looks like when he’s at play.

If the goldish-green cover looks familiar to you, that’s because Paperback Library also published that enormous pile of Dark Shadows gothic romances; so far, there have been twelve novels and a Barnabas Collins joke book, with more to come.

Because this is a Paperback Library book, you’d think this was “compiled by Jonathan Frid” in the same way that “Marilyn Ross” writes the novels; it’s close to the truth, but not quite. At first glance, I’d expect this to be some kind of fever dream cooked up by an associate editor, using pictures scrounged from ABC publicity.

But the remarkable thing about this remarkable book is that Jonathan Frid did actually work on it. It includes a lot of his personal photographs, and the captions are written in what sounds like his actual voice, as I recognize it from his interviews. This feels like a real glimpse into Frid’s life — a curated one, naturally, but authentic all the same.

922 jonathan frid 16 magazine

Just to level set on the authenticity, here’s a contemporary article called “My Secret Life by Jonathan Frid,” from the November 1969 issue of 16 Magazine.

Before I knew you, before Barnabas and Dark Shadows and all the unbelievable and wonderful things that have happened to me during the past year, my secret life was a rather ordinary one. I would work on my scrapbook, go to the theatre or, if something good was on, watch TV — and I was alone a great deal of the time. Now, thanks to you, those times are gone.

Maybe you’re the girl who wrote me a letter recently, inviting me to a birthday party you were having at your house this winter. Or are you the one who wrote and told me, in a long and very personal letter, all about yourself? I want you to know that I read every word you wrote to me and though we have not actually met yet, I feel as though I know you well and have known you for a long time.

Or are you the 16-er who wrote me that carefuly documented, typewritten letter about the history of Dark Shadows? Why, you know more about the show than I do! When I finished reading your marvelous letter, I felt as though we had a long, fascinating conversation together. It was after that I decided to try to persuade 16 to print the whole history of Dark Shadows, so that all the rest of our friends could share the interesting things you know!

So that’s what Jonathan Frid doesn’t sound like. The 16 editor ghost-writing “My Secret Life” gets so caught up in her Frid cosplay that she actually speaks as if Jonathan Frid is a 16 editor, too.

922 jonathan frid to my fans the audience

With that transparent mendacity as our baseline, here’s what Jonathan Frid really sounds like, in his own handwriting and everything.

To my fans, the audience: I dedicate this book of pictures
from the past, the present, the future…
— Jonathan Frid

So already there’s an issue, namely: which pictures in this book are from the future? It’s Fridspeak, in book form.

922 jonathan frid theater beckoned me

The book starts right in with the theater, and the beckoning.

“The theater twenty-eight years ago beckoned me,” Frid writes. “Being thrust into character parts singed my spirits for a moment, but soon I found roles away from my image of myself an exciting and rewarding adventure.”

Let’s take that last sentence again.

[It] singed my spirits for a moment, but soon I found roles away from my image of myself an exciting and rewarding adventure.

That is actually a gramatically correct English sentence, but you have to live with it for a minute. That’s the second sentence in this book.

01 922 jonathan frid orlando romantic

So any doubt you might have is immediately put to rest. This must be Jonathan Frid’s prose; nobody else talks like this.

“I believe now that the series of priests, lords and cardinals I played helped me to find an earlier insight into man’s humanity and inhumanity to himself.”

I love it. I could listen to him do this all day, and now that I think about it, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

02 922 jonathan frid hepburn

We dip back into the Shadows for a moment, for a picture of Barnabas and Elizabeth. “Joan Bennett,” goes the caption, “the first long-run star leading lady in my career, brought back to my mind a scene which took place many years earlier: the first time I faced a famous actress.”

And then he drags out Hepburn, of course. He managed to hold it back for a whole six pages, but he’s only human. “I can only confess I was star-struck and awkward,” he humble-brags, “acting, actually working with Katharine Hepburn.”

So, yeah, Frid definitely had a hand in the compiling. It’s the same as a year ago, in that interview with TV Picture Life called “Jonathan Frid Reveals: The 6 Women I Admire Most!” As soon as the interviewer asks for a name, he immediately pipes up, “Katharine Hepburn. She’s the first who comes to mind! I met her when she was starring in Much Ado About Nothing, in the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Connecticut, in 1958.”

I expect his friends and acquaintances have heard a lot about that 1958 Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut. You’d be amazed at how often that comes up in conversation.

05 922 jonathan frid caliban

So there’s a nice selection of highlights from the footlights — Orlando, Lord Capulet, Caliban. Then we make the transition to his current role.

“I never feel like a monster being Barnabas,” Frid writes. “He is each day as complex as Caliban is confusing.” Or the other way around, mostly.

07 922 jonathan frid ceases to be exciting

And then there’s the first bald-faced lie in the book: “Barnabas never ceases to be exciting.”

I call no way on that one. For Jonathan Frid, exciting is not the thing that Barnabas never ceases to be. This is actually going to become something of an issue over the next twelve months.

08 922 jonathan frid one week

We come to the next section, “One Week with Jonathan Frid”. There are only two section headings like this in the book; there’s “One Week with Jonathan Frid” and “One Day at Work,” and then it kind of trails off into a smattering of after-school activities.

There’s a couple interesting things to point out about this two-page spread, principally that hat at top right.

09 922 jonathan frid one week bottom

And then there’s this picture, the second one on that page, which I can’t really make sense of. It’s dark and printed kind of small, so it’s hard to figure out what’s going on. I suppose that’s Frid on the left, because he’s got the same hat on, and he’s looking at the gentleman sitting opposite him, whoever that is.

If you squint, it looks a bit like David Selby, but why would David Selby be sitting across from him at a desk? Why would you include this picture, if it’s this inscrutable? And why is Frid wearing that hat indoors? I feel like if we could only understand what’s happening in this photograph, it would be a major breakthrough in Frid Studies.

10 922 jonathan frid relax on plane

But we’ve got a busy week ahead, apparently; Frid steps out of a taxi, and before you know it, we’re on an airplane.

11 922 jonathan frid autograph for kids

So this isn’t just any old One Week with Jonathan Frid. This is Frid’s Big Week, the crazy ten-city tour that he perpetrated in May 1968, when all of a sudden Dark Shadows was super popular, and he was mobbed by screaming teens in their thousands. Not all of the pictures in this section come from that specific week, but most of them do.

This is especially exciting for me, because I got kind of obsessed with the ten-city tour when I wrote about it two years ago, and this book adds some crucial documentary evidence.

12 922 jonathan frid the parade begins

But here’s a question: why is this the first half of the book? We went through Frid’s CV, and then there were a few pics of Barnabas looking grumpy, and then all of a sudden we’re in Grand Rapids. He hasn’t even gone to work yet, and already there’s a parade, as if this is a normal part of his everyday routine.

That’s because this book has a story arc, taking us on a journey from the public Frid to the private one. We start out on stage with Katharine Hepburn, and then step into the biggest public events he’s ever had. As we go along, the focus becomes more personal — working in the studio with the cast, learning his lines, and then leaving the studio to go home. The story becomes more and more intimate, until of course we run into the thing that must not be said, and it gets more public again.

13 922 jonathan frid parade kiss

So here’s an interesting moment: “A kiss from the crowd.” Frid is in his open-air hearse, being paraded through whatever city this is — Birmingham, let’s say, or Charleston — and there’s a woman on the far left, blowing a kiss at him.

14 922 dark shadows jonathan frid savor

And then on the facing page, there’s Frid, returning the kiss. It’s a very sweet moment. And I think it’s especially interesting, because the woman in the crowd is Black; he’s metaphorically kissing a Black woman, in what might turn out to be Alabama.

Interracial relationships were still fairly taboo in America; it was only in 1967 that the Supreme Court ruled that states couldn’t ban interracial marriage. And here’s a vampire, out in the midday sun of 1968, getting a kiss from the crowd.

16 922 jonathan frid levy's

And then it’s on with the parade! There’s more than twenty pages of this, including a confusing picture of hardly anything, captioned “Almost a panic.” This is how Jonathan Frid sees the world, these days.

17 922 jonathan frid the winner

There’s a couple pictures that I can’t really place that appear to be Frid selecting a beauty pageant winner. I don’t know when this happened. On the ten-city trip, there was supposed to be a Best Dressed Ghouls contest in Fort Wayne, but after all the unpleasantness — you know, the eleven women, and the shrubbery — they never managed to come to any conclusion about it.

And again, here’s Frid apparently selecting a Black woman as the winner of whatever contest she’s winning. I’m kind of fixating on the Black people in this book, because we hardly ever see any on Dark Shadows; there are only two in the entire run of the show, and Barnabas kills one of them.

But, look! Beyond the borderlines of ABC Studio 16: the United States of America.

18 922 jonathan frid hula hoop

Here’s another moment from Frid’s Big Week — an appearance on Bozo’s Big Top in Flint, Michigan, where he attempted to hula hoop with his Barnabas cape on. He played Lord Capulet, once upon a time.

20 922 jonathan frid fredda lee frid

And then, the most significant page in the entire book, as far as I’m concerned — Frid shakes hands with Fredda Lee, the hypnotized Atlanta-Eleven Girl at the Marriott Motor Hotel. You remember Fredda, she’s the one who turned from side to side in a coffin, holding a “Barnabas Collins Press Conference” sign. Yes, that Fredda Lee. The Atlanta-Eleven one.

I honestly thought that I would go through the whole rest of my life without ever seeing a picture of Fredda Lee. This is my favorite book of all time.

23 922 jonathan frid feel like the president

There’s a lot more of this — a high school newspaper press conference, some hospital visits for sick children, trying to get into a car while a couple dozen children fight their way through a barrier of frustrated lawmen, brandishing autograph books — but I think Frid has made his point. He’s popular.

24 922 jonathan frid excuse mecrowd

But these are exciting snapshots for his fans, the audience, because these are the moments when he actually walks among us. And wouldn’t it be thrilling, to be ten, and within shouting distance of Jonathan Frid at the height of his powers?

26 922 jonathan frid pat priest

And then there’s Pat Priest, “one of the many presidents of Barnabas fan clubs. This one’s called Frid’s Fiendian Fellowship, FFF.”

And oh, Pat Priest, with your gorgeous glasses and earnest expression, patiently puzzling over acceptable alliteration. I looked up the FFF. Their newsletter was called The Fiendian Shadows, and I wish I had a copy. I bet it was something else.

28 922 jonathan frid one day 1

But finally, at long last, Jonathan Frid shows up at work, ready to strap on the fangs and give people something to think about. There’s a couple pages with Frid in the makeup chair, and then… this.

922 jonathan frid funny faces

Oh, my. I didn’t see that one coming. Frid in blackface, on a two-page spread of “funny faces”. Now we’re going to have to have that long-overdue national conversation about race, and I thought we’d already had one.

30 jonathan frid rehearsal karlen

I’m not really sure where to go with that, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to move on to some cute rehearsal photos, and try to forget. Look, it’s John Karlen.

31 jonathan frid rehearsal with who

I don’t know who some of the people in these pictures are, they could be anybody. Frid hardly mentions anyone’s name in the captions. In fact, he betrays very little interest in his co-workers at all.

I mean, yeah, the collection is supposed to be his personal picture album, but you’d think he’d say a word about Louis or Grayson or Selby. The closest he comes is with a picture of David Henesy, who he calls “the boy.”

I guess if you’re not Shakespeare, Joan Bennett or Katharine Hepburn, then Jonathan Frid has no time for you. Did you know that he worked with Katharine Hepburn, by the way?

34 922 jonathan frid naga

So we get some nice on-set photos, which look like pretty much any on-set photo — actors, killing time until they turn the cameras on.

36 922 jonathan frid grayson hall hair

There’s a nice pic of Grayson fussing with Frid’s hair, and another one where Frid is explaining something important to Louis, while Joan sits next to them and pointedly reads a magazine.

33 jonathan frid nancy

And then there are several spectacular photos of Nancy Barrett, showing off her legs and resting her head on Frid’s shoulder. It’s still actors killing time, but from angles that we don’t see very often.

38 922 jonathan frid corner police

Then we leave the studio, and it’s time to talk about the thing that must not be talked about. Because this is the moment, about 30 pages before the end, when we leave the studio and start on the homeward journey, to his apartment and his private life, and whatever that may consist of.

The next nine pictures were all taken on the same day, as a Paperback Library photographer followed Frid home, taking snaps along the way. You can tell that it’s the same afternoon, because he’s wearing the same clothes, and when else would there have been a photographer taking pictures of him shopping?

This is the first page in that sequence — and here, just at the threshold where public life becomes private life, he runs into the law.

“The corner police kid me about going into the sun,” he explains. “Here I’m signing autographs — not being arrested.”

It’s cute, a little self-deprecating joke, but the important thing is that this is a reminder that the police are standing guard, ready to protect the public welfare from people like Jonathan Frid.

This book was published in December 1969, and it was only six months ago that drag queens and homophiles got sick of police randomly raiding their nightclubs and arresting everybody on the premises. On that hot night in late June, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn started a riot, which continued for several days and inspired the formation of gay activist groups, dedicated to creating some private spaces for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to get together, without the fear of being stopped by the police and asked for autographs.

So for 45-year-old well-dressed bachelors in the theater arts, the possibility of being arrested for nothing was a salient one. This is why the Personal Picture Album ends up not actually being that personal.

922 jonathan frid playboy club

And what does Frid do on the very next page? He stops by the Playboy Club, of course, which is what he always does on the way home, on the days that he’s being followed by a Paperback Library photographer.

Now, every time I talk about Jonathan Frid being gay, things get a little antsy at the bottom of the page. For example, here’s a comment from the “Win a Date with Jonathan Frid” post:

I have read Mr. Frid belonged to the playboy club in NYC and loved looking at pictures of naked women also had a large collection of Playboy. Now I am a born again Christian and don’t agree with a lot of stuff so i hope he wasn’t gay but I absolutely love him, I wish so much that I knew him. Mabey he just din’t like sex? is that possible?

I’d wondered at the time where that Playboy Club stuff came from, and here it is — a propaganda picture, showing Jonathan Frid at work and at play. So I’m just going to point out that neither of these pictures show Frid inside the club. Instead, he’s posing awkwardly on the steps for a photo op. Take a look at these pictures, and tell me how relaxed and happy he looks. Clearly, this is a place where he feels very much at home.

922 jonathan frid favorite girls

We don’t go inside to hang out with the Playboy bunnies, as it turns out, go figure. Frid goes to a department store and looks at knickknacks, and he poses at a movie theater as if he’s just gone to see Romeo and Juliet, and then there’s a final pic with one of his “favorite girls”, a statue near his apartment. And that is what Mr. J. Frid does on his way home today.

41 922 jonathan frid decorate

We pick up the story the next day, apparently. “The day off begins with decorating the new apartment,” he says. A guy is painting. The other guy in this picture is also from the Paperback Library, an editor or designer or something. You don’t get much of a chance to relax, once the Paperback Library enters your life. They fill all the available space.

922 jonathan frid this book

So then there’s two pages of Frid and the editor, “working on this book,” which is amusingly self-reflexive. There aren’t any carefully staged domestic moments, like they did for 16 magazine sometimes. 16 would charge over to Don Briscoe’s house periodically, and make him sit next to a pile of books. Paperback Library just took pictures of Frid meeting with other people from Paperback Library.

922 jonathan frid party time

But there’s a nice little two-page spread of Frid party pictures, with special appearances by Alexandra Moltke, Dan Curtis, and Jonathan’s mother. I don’t know who the rest of the people are; they must have been somebody.

922 jonathan frid sleep

And then the story just kind of drifts off into the sunset. There’s a few pages of Frid in Central Park, looking at the lake, leading to a very Frid finale: a silhouette, and a Shakespeare quote.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a Sleep.”

So that’s Jonathan Frid’s life, for now: a parade, a kiss from the crowd, some studio time and a sunset.

25 922 jonathan frid crowd 2

Before we go, I want to give a shout-out to the eleven women in Fort Wayne, who are shouting out terrible visions of the future.

You remember the eleven women, of course; I never shut up about them. They’re the ones from the Glenbrook Shopping Mall on day 4 of the ten-city tour, when they planned for a crowd of three thousand, and got twelve thousand instead.

“With [Frid] is Phil Kriegler of ABC-TV, a short amiable man: ‘I play the heavy on this trip. I’m the one who has to pull him away from all the women who want autographs. The last time I did it, one woman gave me a punch in the back that nearly crippled me.’

“Kriegler said that 12,000 women, children and teenagers were waiting for them at a shopping center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“‘The screaming was unbelievable. Eleven women fainted, there were 58 lost children, one broken arm, a broken leg, and $1,500 damage to trees and shrubs.’”

And they rise to their feet, the eleven women, who are down but not out. They have a message for Frid, and the world, and the Paperback Library, about the way this all ends — this book, and this show, and the 1960s in general.

We’ve learned who some of the eleven women are, by now — that old lady in Providence, and the other one in Boston, Fredda Lee and Pat Priest and the kiss from a crowd lady, and Katharine Hepburn, obviously. We’ve been collecting them, along the way.

Jonathan Frid has another year and a half of fame, give or take, and then his stardom fades and he returns to private life, whatever that looks like when the spotlight moves on.

Oh, and the girl who wrote that letter and knew everything about Dark Shadows, she’s got to be one of the eleven women, surely? Or is she one of the 58 lost children?

Whatever happened to those lost children, do you think? Were they ever found again? Did anyone ever learn what they were up to? What happens to a story, when the story is over?

Tomorrow: Probably Her.


Before I started writing about Dark Shadows, I spent a couple of decades writing about the Muppets — starting with a self-published fanzine called MuppetZine, and then a website called Tough Pigs.

Last week, for Tough Pigs’ 15th anniversary, I wrote an article called My Years with MuppetZine, a commentary track that accompanies an archive of all the old zines. If you like my writing and you want to know what I was doing before Dark Shadows Every Day, then go check it out.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

At the end of yesterday’s episode, Chris dropped the portrait on the floor. At the beginning of today’s, the portrait is still on the easel.

When Quentin runs into the room, why is the werewolf hiding behind the curtains?

You can hear somebody talking in the studio at the moment when Quentin leans against the front door with the candlestick in his hand. It sounds like they’re saying “Pull your feet up now,” but it’s probably something else.

When Quentin bends down to talk to Tate, they talk over each other on the first line.

How did Quentin know that he would find Julia at Olivia’s suite?

Before Julia goes into Tate’s drawing room, she pulls Quentin aside, and whispers something in his ear. He says that he doesn’t understand, but he’ll do what she says. Then Julia enters the drawing room, and closes the doors behind her. The camera is supposed to stay on Quentin and Olivia — they have a couple more lines in this scene, which presumably explains what Julia whispered — but instead, they cut to Julia. You can hear a couple of barely-audible lines, as Quentin and Amanda continue their scene, and then Julia looks up to at the camera to get her cue. They continue on with the scene, and we never find out what Julia was whispering about.

Julia tells Olivia to call Tate by his first name. She asks what his first name is, and Julia says, “Charles.” Then Olivia approaches Tate, and doesn’t say his name. She finally murmurs “Charles,” after he’s already seen her and called her “Amanda”.

When Olivia’s walking through the woods past a pile of rocks, you can see a bit of another set.

Somebody in the studio coughs when Julia reaches for Olivia’s locket.

During the flashback, you can still see the background of Olivia’s hotel room. Halfway through the flashback, the camera operator moves the camera around, and you can see the background changing.

There are several strange edits in the show today; the most jarring happens during Olivia and Julia’s conversation towards the end of act three.

When Julia gets up from the couch and walks to the door, there’s a boom mic overhead.

Behind the Scenes:

Emory Bass appears as Mr. Best in three episodes, starting with today’s. He comes back a year later to play a minister in 1841PT. This is his first screen credit, but he was on Broadway in Kiss Me Kate in 1952, and Pal Joey in 1963. While he’s making this appearance on Dark Shadows, he’s currently in the middle of a three-year run in the original cast of 1776, where he played James Wilson.

This episode also has another appearance of the colorful quilted afghan, which is always hopping from one place to another. We last spotted the afghan a month ago in Paul’s hotel room. Today, it’s in Tate’s house, covering the dying man.

Tomorrow: Probably Her.

37 922 jonathan frid grayson hall i'll do it

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

54 thoughts on “Episode 922: To My Fans, the Audience

  1. This public apartment-decorating Frid aligns more with the 1967 Barnabas Collins (without the murder and vampirism). It’s interesting to compare these episodes with the 1991 revival and even HODS and see how much more “closeted” Barnabas’s sexuality is. Sure, his lust is for a dead woman from the 19th Century but we’re repeatedly told that this love is “wrong” and she even kills herself to avoid consummating it. The “public” Barnabas, the distant cousin from London, is the classic confirmed bachelor who shows no interest in women or romance and lives a quiet retiring life, restoring an old house. Even when he begins to pursue the living Victoria, the love triangle is so unlike what you’d normally see on a soap. She doesn’t even consider that the single man giving her expensive family heirlooms is interested in her romantically. Burke scoffs at the accusations of jealousy — not out of pride but because he doesn’t really see Barnabas as a romantic rival but an existential threat.

    We effectively see the end of this Barnabas when the show goes to 1795. The character becomes more overtly “straight”: We never knew before if Josette ever actually loved Barnabas or if he was just a deranged stalker as he was with Vicki. But no, they were engaged, it turns out. And happily so. And we meet the sexy Angelique, with whom Barnabas was carnally involved. This is a different person than who we’d met a few months ago.

    When we return to 1968, Barnabas is open with his feelings for Vicki and Jeff Clark clearly regards him as a romantic rival. But it never really gells. There’s no chemistry between him and Vicki.

    Then Vicki leaves and we transition to gay uncle butler Barnabas. Then we go to 1897 and here is when we get the “romantic vampire” who is openly flirtatious with Rachel and Charity, both of whom return his affections.

    But “romantic Barnabas” always seems off. He’s more believable when he’s pining but not when there’s supposed to be sparks.

    But Frid as Barnabas sold different forms of marriage though: Both with Angelique and Julia.

  2. Picky me…
    Katharine – not Katherine – Hepburn. I understand Jonathan Frid appeared onstage with her, did you know that? 😛

      1. It’s spelt like that in the book!
        Jonathan Frid should have noticed that while compiling… He DID appear with her onstage, y’know.
        Strangely, this was one book that I never saw at that used bookstore I haunted. I’ll have to look on eBay to see what the current asking price is.

        And I take it that’s not KLS in that series of ‘housewarming’ photos (bottom of the first page)?

  3. I loved the gloriously Fridspeak-filled web site/blog JF and his assistants kept during the final years of his life. It was rambling, sometimes ranting, but never dull for a minute. It was like cornering your eccentric old uncle at Thanksgiving and listening to him natter on about his stories from the War of 1812, but translated into plummy Edwardian theater talk. I really miss it.

    it was only in 1967 that the Supreme Court ruled that states couldn’t ban interracial marriage.

    And despite that ruling making them unenforceable, some states kept their anti-miscegenation laws on the books until as recently as the year 2000. People can be real %@#+ sometimes.

  4. What did all the MUNSTERS fans think of a huge fan of his being named Pat Priest? It might not be the most coincidental name ever, but it’s still pretty strange.

  5. Hi Danny,

    The man with the hat appears to be the Paperback Library editor, while the man on the right is Jonathan Frid. You can tell from the clothes they are wearing. Compare it to the photo of the two of them together in the picture right after the one of Jonathan in his apartment watching what appears to be the painter.

    1. Oh, maybe you’re right. It still doesn’t make any sense, though. Why would you put that picture as the section header for the first section? And why the hat?

    2. I came to the same conclusion you did, Tessi, for the same reasons. Altho, at first glance, I thought the guy in the cowboy hat looked an awful lot like Keith Moon. Which then had me imagining how the Dark Shadows version of The Who’s “Tommy” might have played out.

  6. In the rehearsal shots, the man in the pin stripe shirt in the foreground of the second pic is director Henry Kaplan, he of the flamboyant magic wand (yes, a baton which he actually waved around) and performance grading system. Tessi is correct about Frid sitting at right in that dark photo. I wonder if the hat on Frid was a stealth expression of “flair?” The hat on the other gentleman appears to be more of a Panama than the cowboy style that Frid wears in the earlier photo. The party pics are from a Drake Hotel ABC press event in ’68, in which the older lady, Frid’s mother, was a sort of special guest. It was not held in Frid’s apartment.

    1. the other guy in the photo with Frid and Kaplan might be DiCenzo? I’m not totally sure, he looks so different in different photos, and in his interviews.

  7. By the way, your pieces that involve artifacts from the show- books, records, etc., are always a delight! Thanks for the great treatment, as always!

  8. When I met Frid at a lecture at our local library, I brought a copy of that book, hoping he’d sign it. When I finally trembled my way to the front of the he was astonished that , at least twenty years later, anyone still had a copy. I should have told him it had moved cross-country twice. It has since moved six times.

  9. I encountered this book for the first time at a garage sale when I was in my mid-20s and my initial reaction after reading it was that it was the first piece of DS merchandise I’d come across that wasn’t pitched at sixth graders. My second reaction – by this time I had been to college and spent quality time with people who weren’t straight white Christians — was, hmmm, I think that Jonathan might be gay.

    1. Wow! People who aren’t straight white Christians?
      Do the Republicans KNOW about this trend?
      Someone really needs to warn them!

    2. I completely understand if this wanders too far off topic, or just gets too long-winded, and needs to be deleted. But Emily’s and John’s comments have sort of opened the gate for things that have been on my mind.

      I also grew up in a very conservative small town. As it happens, it was just this side of the border (about an hour and a half’s drive) from Jonathan Frid’s hometown of Hamilton, Ont. I’ve been to St. Catharines and Hamilton often, and still keep in touch with friends in the area, although I sincerely doubt we had any acquaintances in common. I only bring up the proximity because there are cultural similarities in the area even though it’s divided by the US-Canada border. (For instance, before cable TV came in, the Toronto stations came in better than the Buffalo ones, so that’s mostly what we watched.)

      Anyway, yeah, small town, conservative, and EVERYONE was officially straight, white, and Christian. NOBODY was out of the closet on anything, especially that first one. Even the one Black family in town would probably have passed if they could have; as it is I can only assume they were code-switching like crazy.

      This was pre-internet, too. That scary, awful time just before the internet when all that our straight, white, Christian parents were telling us about gay people was that they all eventually died from AIDS.

      Looking back from the super hippie college town where I live as an adult, I think I can guess about some of my friends and schoolmates who were in the closet back then. But boy oh boy, that was some really Ironclad closet. It was more like a bank vault. My best friend came out after we both left town, and it first I resented that he hadn’t trusted me with the secret. But then I remembered what that place had been like, and I knew he had made the right choice. Even if he’d managed to remain physically safe, he never would have been allowed to have a moment’s peace. I wouldn’t have deliberately betrayed him, but something may have slipped out. I don’t know if things are better there now. I know he’s out to his mother and stepfather, but it’s not a topic that’s up for discussion during visits. Same goes for one of his stepsisters, who is out in the city where she lives, but still officially straight, white, and Christian in the old home town. (In the regional hospital, if you list no religion they put Methodist on your wristband.)

      Jonathan Frid was a few generations older then my friends and I. I hear people say, “If he was gay, he would have said so. He was a New York actor, and actors were out on Broadway even before they started coming out in Hollywood. Even if he’d kept it a secret early on, there would be no reason not to come out in his later years when society was more accepting.”
      Well, you can take the boy out of Hamilton, but you can’t necessarily take Hamilton out of the boy. He had family back home, and retired back there himself. I’m not saying there weren’t confirmed bachelors who were whispered about. For Pete’s sake, I know more supposed dirty secrets – how many with even a grain of truth to them I’ll never know – about the people back home than I ever cared to hear, even after making it plain that I didn’t want to hear them. And I have no doubt there were tall tales told about me before I got out of there. Give them nothing and they’ll take a mile, give them an inch and they’ll take five.

      I don’t know if I really have a point. I just hope to see a day where nobody needs the closet, in their community of origin or elsewhere.

      1. I think that’s well said Melissa. I can sympathise with that need to stay in the closet to the family, which means No One Must Ever Know. I remember my brother telling me he was gay – I was 25 and he was 27, I think. The one thing that struck me was why I had never known, and why he had never been able to tell me. And this was in the 1990s! That was when I began to think a bit more deeply about people’s very real need to stay in the closet, which until then I couldn’t fathom why they would (I’m a rather blunt person and would rather suffer the consequences of honesty than suffer the consequences of hiding the truth). My brother felt the need to keep it hidden from most of the family, probably still until this day. It was never discussed. It’s ridiculous! I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence.

        1. Yeah, it’s hard sometimes to explain what being in the closet feels/felt like to people who haven’t had that experience. When I talk about Frid being gay, I’m trying to stress that a gay person born in 1924 really had no opportunity to get any positive information about being gay. They literally didn’t have a vocabulary for it yet. It was a mortal sin, and a mental disorder, and it didn’t exist, all at the same time.

          In the late 1960s, it was still considered a mental disorder, and literally a crime that could get you arrested, exposed, humiliated and ruined. People who grow up and live under those circumstances develop habits and failsafes to keep anybody from talking about their dreadful, shameful secret. Sometimes that includes posing for a photograph outside the Playboy Club.

      2. thank you for this eloquent confidance, Melissa. ’twasn’t long winded at all. endearing is nearer the mark.

  10. The Jonathan Frid crowd 2 photo reminds me a lot of the publicity gag shot of George Romero encircled by the “Living Dead.”

  11. Love him or hate him, Roger Davis is a rather good actor, providing one of his finer moments in this episode. Though the age makeup isn’t all that convincing, Davis’ performance is, from the elderly hunch in posture to the restricted slower movements of age to the gruffness of voice. His scene with Olivia/Amanda is particularly striking, his mood conveying all the impassioned desperation of lost love through time. As a character actor, whether Dirk the vampire in 1897 or the aged Charles Delaware Tate in 1969, Roger Davis has a definite talent.

    Danny, in your Behind the Scenes note, your second paragraph repeats the last sentence of the previous paragraph (which is unfinished).

  12. Let us not forget that in a segment of DS fandom, mention that Frid was gay is a heresy that can get you burned at the stake. And they are quite vocal about it. There is now an ongoing feud between [two fans] that is… interesting… to say the least, and for now does not involve firearms.

    1. Yes, and we never (or rarely) see that segment of fandom here on this blog…because they are so trapped in a 1970s seventh-grade mentality. It’s too bad. Look at all the fun they could be having with us if they just opened their minds up a bit. Danny’s blog is the best thing that’s happened to DS fandom since…well, the show itself.

        1. I do a little bit of quiet comment moderation. People’s first posts get sent to a moderation queue, and every once in a while, I find they’re not quite up to DS Every Day standard. It’s only been a few over the years, but it turns out that makes a difference. I always wonder why other sites don’t do that.

  13. Another beautifully written essay. Reading this blog over the past year or so reminds me of a similar experience I had with a series of online articles Richard Lawson did on Those Beverly Hills “Housewife” Ladies; I began looking at it thinking I’d have some loopy, mindless fun, and discovered a wordsmith with insight and lyricism. Bravo.

  14. There’s an interview with Grayson Hall from 1970 where she calls Katharine Hepburn an amateur, so maybe THAT’s what she and Jonathan fell out about.

  15. Why is it sooo “important” whether Jonathan was gay or not(?)…like: one side is fighting another over it and; as most fandom, unfortunately, devolves into…it becomes a neurotic touchstone which smothers ALL the fun out of the original, greater subject (much like the way Burton/Depp completely f’d-up the “intent” of DS by turning it into a hindsight mockery of its former self).

    It would’ve seemed more logical IF(?): a then-closeted viewer interpreted DS as REBELLING AGAINST RELIGIOUS ORTHODOXY (when you contrast the clownish portrayal of the Trasks vs. the co-contemporaneous “Satan’s favorite tv show”-comment Jerry Fallwell had made). However, it REALLY comes-off like a freakshow joke bitchfest when…the argument becomes a bunch of flamboyant queens pitted against the (now old) women who sent nudes of themselves to Frid 50 years-ago! Also, there’s more than a hint of masochism reflected in the attitude of the gay men preoccupied with that element: a lot of those women vicariously in love with Frid (at the time) probably WERE MOTHERS of these sexually conflicted men…and they still RESENT them.

    1. Yeah, see, here’s the thing: Gay dudes don’t like to be straightsplained about how much fun fandom would be if we would just shut up. When you call us neurotic, bitchy, flamboyant, sexually conflicted old queens, and then you try to psychoanalyze our relationships with our mothers, it reveals a lot of ugly and old-fashioned truths about the way that you think.

      1. Bravo, Danny. You tell ’em! (I’m sure you usually politely hold back.) I say real fans love your blog because we DO want the whole picture, and we understand “the why.” I really appreciate the perspective you bring more and more, while learning all about the people and stories behind the scenes, and the historical and social settings and media landscape. All things I was too young to understand the first time around. And it makes the show even more fabulous!

  16. Hi, just discovered your page! I’ve been a Dark Shadows fanatic since 1966. Just wanted to point out that the colorful “quilted” afghan we keep seeing is actually crocheted in a “Granny Square” pattern. Several of us DS fans are absolutely fixated on it! Some day, if it hasn’t already been done, someone will make a list of all the episodes and locations where it shows up! Really enjoying your blog.

    1. Speaking of said afghan, as it lay draped over a fading Tate, I yelled out “SAVE HIM, AFGHAN!” But my husband cut in and said said afghan actually drained the life from characters to survive, and is, in fact, an agent of They.

  17. Hi! Just discovered this wonderful blog. I’ve been a DS fan since 1966! Wanted to let you know that the colorful afghan you speak of is not “quilted.” It’s crocheted, using many simple “Granny Squares” sewn together. Some day, someone is going to put together a list of episodes and places where this treasure is seen….if it hasn’t been done already!

  18. That picture of Alexandra and Jonathan on the balcony at the Drake Hotel party is one of my favorites. I think it is the only photo of Alexandra wearing glasses that I have seen from this period. For some reason, beautiful women wearing glasses look cute to me. This is why she rarely if ever forgot her lines: She had to be sure to memorize them because she could not see the TelePrompter. I sometimes wonder whether that meant she was wandering around with the set, fellow actors and crew members all out of focus. Also, why wouldn’t or couldn’t she wear contacts?

    1. I can’t speak for Ms. Moltke-Isles, but I just can’t stand to wear contacts – don’t like the feel of them in my eyes. Plus, the contacts in the 60s-70s would still have been glass… I’d NEVER have been able to put THAT on my eyeball!
      But I agree about her wearing the glasses, she looks cute. Don’t see why she wouldn’t have worn them on the show, except (of course) that nobody wore glasses on TV except for effect (comical or scholarly).

  19. I think one other aspect of Frid’s silence on the topic of his sexuality is that he was being banked on as portraying a sex symbol of sorts to the audience. We wouldn’t want to lose the interest of the female fan base who were seeing him in a romantic way, now would we?

    I’m not sure, but seem to recall that stars like Rock Hudson were micro-managed by the studios to conform to the female fans idea of manly men. He was marketed as a man to lust over. I doubt Charles Nelson Reilly or Charles Ruggles ever had to worry about such pressures, b/c they simply weren’t invested with sexual importance on screen.

    By the time of the Big Tour, both the studio and Frid would probably have agreed that discretion was by far the greater part of valor. In fact, I’m one of those who assumes Frid was gay, but what I’d really like to know is did the studio pressure him in any way to keep it a secret? Did he actually suffer a lonely life of denial as a sacrifice to his career? Or maybe the paparazzi of the time weren’t quite the craven lot they are today, and it was mostly just business as usual for all concerned.

    Now, as to why he didn’t make some sort of an announcement in later years, to satisfy anyone’s curiosity, well, who’s business was it anyway? He seems like a man who valued his privacy, and I can only imagine how little patience he would have had for impertinent questions on the topic.

    1. In the late sixties, you didn’t need a studio to pressure gay men into being quiet about their orientation. Homosexuality was widely seen as a mental illness, and was listed in psychiatrists’ manuals as a mental disorder until 1973. Engaging in consensual homosexual sex was illegal in most places, and gay bars were frequently raided by the police, exposing bar patrons to public disgrace. LGBT who lived during those times knew that they needed to keep their mouths shut.

      Because of this code of secrecy, we don’t really know whether he was lonely or not. I would like to believe that he found love and satisfaction, quietly, as many people did.

  20. I don’t know if this helps the conversation, but in 1969 just about nobody was “out.” We were all in the closet. Even in New York City, you could live a gay life but not be out to your family or co-workers. It simply wasn’t possible. It’s very difficult to understand a different era but being gay at that time was considered (a) criminal, (b) mental illness, and (c) socially abhorrent. Getting beaten up or arrested or exposed was a constant fear. Thank goodness we have come so far, but for many people these fears still exist — we still have a long way to go.

  21. Emory Bass has that great voice. That’s exactly what Mr Best would sound like.

    And it’s always fun to see another cast member from 1776 on the show!

  22. The photo of Grayson fixing Jonathan’s bangs is why I find it hard to believe they didn’t like each other. There’s an intimacy with messing with another person’s hair.

    “What happens to a story, when the story is over?” People get together and speculate about it endlessly. Obviously.

  23. Trivia alert! The picture at the apartment/housewarming of a gentleman draping his arm over Jonathan’s shoulder looks to be one of comedic actor Orson Bean (born Dallas Burroughs, I believe). Orson was a regular on game shows in the ’60s (To Tell the Truth, for instance) and was probably based in NYC back then. In 1970, I recall, my cousin and I found an old Mad Magazine from around 1959 with a piece written by Bean, the essence of which I can’t remember well except it was a humorous essay about his real name and life. Around that same time (or, at least within a year or two of that 1970 reading), Orson appeared on The Tonight Show doing a rare stand-up routine, instead of his usual storytelling bit on the couch with Johnny Carson, and the material somehow rang vaguely familiar to me. It then hit me that it was a oral retelling of his late 1950s Mad piece.

    He had a unique comedic style, mainly as a raconteur, as I saw him, but he acted on TV also, notably on a rare light-hearted episode of Twilight Zone called “Mr. Bevis”, from its first season and largely recreated in a later season with Carol Burnett essentially reprising Bean’s role.

    Years later he had a regular role on Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman and also later married Alley Mills, who played the mom on The Wonder Years.

    Finally, I was saddened to learn he died in February, 2020 after being struck by two cars while he was walking, with the second car fatally doing so.

    An amiable sort, it was surprising to me to read that in recent years he had become more conservative and contributed occasional columns to Breitbart News, the outlet started by his late son-in-law Andrew Breitbart. It’s difficult for me to imagine him as a writer of right-wing screeds, and I wonder why and how he could have gotten to that point, but I have avoided searching for any essays he wrote then for fear of remembering him unkindly.

    All this to preface the now odd juxtaposition of Frid with Bean in the photo, knowing how Bean turned late in life. Was he a homophobe later on, or was he earlier in life, but blissfully devoid of gaydar while affectionately clutching the gay actor. I’d like to think his (later) conservatism was more limited and didn’t extend to the more pernicious aspects of the culture wars. I hope that was the case, but the current climate of extremism on the right makes me wonder if there are many such old-time conservatives left.

    As a straight man who grew up largely unaware of the harsh realities of being gay and out, I’m happy to say that being always a bit outside of the largest circle of individuals where most reside (the actual meaning of “eccentric”), I think I was naturally more sympathetic toward those seen as different. One’s sexuality can be fraught with insecurities and self-doubts for anyone, so loaded with intensity are such drives. So, I can only imagine what a gay person must wrestle with when sexuality is compounded with secrecy, lack of acceptance, and the demonization by powerful swaths of the population.

    It’s just my small, added point of view here, but I fully support the acceptance and equality of non-hetero sexual orientations. Someday soon, I hope, inequality and bigotry against them will be a thing of the past.

  24. Seeing Emory Bass got me wondering what part in 1776 would have been good for Frid. He wasn’t a singer as far as I know so that limits it. I think maybe…the delegate from New York. Yes, I can see him popping up occasionally to say, “New York abstains…courteously!”

  25. Love the recap of this great piece of DS history! I would’ve loved to have found that book during the original run.

    Are we not even going to discuss Olivia’s groovy outfit or that awesome fur coat she has? She’s got about the best style thus far!

    I feel like the amount of blood shown on CDT was the greatest amount seen so far. His death scene was way too quick. I’m not sure what Julia is going for trying to prove Olivia is Amanda Harris. But then again I never understand anything Julia does.

    Also, I’ve said it before, but I would’ve had terrible nightmares as a child from the werewolves on this show, based just on their growling alone.

  26. I liked having a pause from the Leviathan storyline in this episode. It was great to revisit the 1897 period via the characters still alive from that time. I rather like Roger Davis’s gutteral laugh as well. Oh, and that dummy head popping off reminded me of Eraserhead.

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