RIP: Jonathan Frid (1924 – 2012)

Wow. We have certainly lost some very important people in the retro entertainment circle this week. First we learned that we had lost the fantastic character actor, William Finley(Phantom of the Paradise, The Funhouse), and the next day it was announced that the “World’s Oldest Teenager” Dick Clark had also left us. Now we have word that Jonathan Frid(Dark Shadows), Barnabas Collins himself has passed on at age 87.

A huge thanks to Phil Nobile Jr. over at Badass Digest for the heads up on this sad bit of news. Make sure to visit Phil’s link to read about how Jonathan almost didn’t get the part for Dark Shadows and more interesting facts.


Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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6 thoughts on “RIP: Jonathan Frid (1924 – 2012)

  1. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Of all the recent passings, this one touches me more deeply.

    Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas became an iconic figure, one that reappeared throughout my childhood and came to represent a most human monster.

    Not constrained to the movie format, the development of his character led to vampiric recognition amidst the classic Christopher Lee and Lugosi incarnations of the most popular of them all.

    I’d argue that Frid’s own take on vampire life, even though acidental, is one for the ages.

    His fanged snarl scared me in the pages of everyday magazines and in my personal paper haunts such as Famous Monsters and parent companies.
    But then, his reposed visage in other stills would offer a conundrum of banality behind the menace, and it would offer much more to think about.

    I’m almost halfway through the series now, and the much-referenced gaffes aren’t all that commonplace and the verbal hangups seem natural in the ordinary hiccups of conversation.

    Yeah, I love the show and its characters, and I regret the chance to meet the great Barnabas in this world has passed for me.

    RIP Mr. Frid.

  2. Drahken says:

    This was posted on retrojunk’s forums a few days ago. It fell into a sort of running gag of “so-and-so has died” threads of people I’ve never heard of (seems like every day somebody’s posting a “{x} has died” thread there, and I think the only ones of them that I had ever heard of were davy jones & dick clark).
    I’ve heard of the dark shadows show, but never watched it. I tried to watch it a couple of times, but couldn’t even begin to get into it.

  3. Jonathan Frid was fantastic. I realized I should have mentioned that you can catch the Dark Shadow original series over on Netflix instant at this very moment.

    Atari, how do you feel about the remake by the way by Tim Burton and Johnny Depp?

  4. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Y’know, given the shoddy Apes retread, I kinda feared and loathed the idea of Dark Shadows getting the disrespectful lipstick-on-a-pig approach.
    And in a way, it might be the case.

    But having seen the trailer, with its skewed comedy outlook, reminiscent of Beetlejuice (as early sources called it), it’s pretty much its own thing.

    As Phil Noble noted, Frid was non-plussed by his cameo shoot, so I doubt the movie has actual designs to complement the show.

    One thing is certain, this project had Tim Burton’s name on it before it ever got greenlit. I say godspeed.

    I’ll probably even enjoy it more, as a fan of the show and its characters.

  5. Thanks for the link! To be fair, Frid was not a film fan at all, and had never heard of Johnny Depp or Tim Burton before this film. His reaction to the production says more about Frid than it does about the production. I wouldn’t panic yet. And if you’ll excuse my plugging, DS fans have had no less than FOUR straight-faced iterations of the show:

    I’m excited for a fresh spin.

  6. Phil, thanks again for the heads up on Frid’s passing and for visiting the site. Loved your article on the four different ways that Dan Curtis attempted to capture that lightning in a bottle phenomenon that the original Dark Shadows has enjoyed. I wish I could see that pilot from 2004 though, sounds…interesting…the way you describe it.

    Like Atari Adventure Square and Phil Nobile Jr, I’m looking forward to the Tim Burton film.

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