DARK SHADOWS AND BEYOND — THE JONATHAN FRID STORY is the first feature-length documentary devoted to Canadian-born actor Jonathan Frid, who became a television sensation with his portrayal of guilt-ridden vampire Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows, the 1966 – 1971 daytime drama that remains a beloved cult classic today. The spooky gothic serial attracted not only housewives and college students, but millions of school kids, who ran home each afternoon, turning classically trained forty-something Frid into a romantic figure and an unlikely teen idol.
Who was the man beneath the vampire’s cloak? The documentary reveals Frid’s personal and professional struggles, artistic triumphs and rise to fame in part through his own written correspondences, recited by Ian Buchanan.
Among family, friends and co-workers who offer fresh insights are veteran talk show host and Yale Drama School classmate Dick Cavett, actress Marion Ross (Arsenic & Old Lace), Christina Pickles (Seizure), San Diego National Shakespeare Festival co-star Anthony Zerbe and Dark Shadows colleagues David Selby, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Nancy Barrett, Marie Wallace, James Storm, John Karlen, and Dan Curtis.
Also included are rare performance material, previously unseen interviews and archival images from Frid’s private collection.
JONATHAN FRID BIO
Jonathan Frid's career in drama began when he first "offered his soul" to theatre as a young boy at Hillfield School in Hamilton, Ontario. Following his graduation from McMaster University, he attended London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and later earned an M.F.A. in directing from the Yale School of Drama.
Frid was a leading actor in English and Canadian repertory and worked in many of America's most celebrated regional theatres, including the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego and the American Shakespeare Festival under the direction of John Houseman, performing with Katharine Hepburn in Much Ado About Nothing. He appeared in major roles on the stages of Off-Broadway and Broadway.
He is best known for his portrayal of the vampire villain-turned-hero Barnabas Collins on ABC's daytime television serial Dark Shadows and in the film House of Dark Shadows. His other film credits include co-starring roles in The Devil's Daughter with Shelley Winters and in Seizure, Oliver Stone's directorial debut.
In December 1986, Frid joined the Broadway cast of Arsenic and Old Lace co-starring with Jean Stapleton, and subsequently spent over a year with the show on the road. Earlier in 1986, he formed his own production company, Clunes Associates, with producer Mary O’Leary to tour universities and performing arts centers in a series of readers' theatre entertainments, principally Fools & Fiends, Shakespearean Odyssey and Fridiculousness. "Frid makes the tales live with the wonderful instrument of his voice and his zest for entertaining" went one of his noteworthy reviews.
Frid retired to his native Canada in 1994. From time to time he would perform his one-man shows for charitable and fundraising events. In June 2000, he returned to the professional stage in a limited engagement of the play Mass Appeal, first in Hamilton, then at the Stirling Festival Theatre in Stirling, Ontario.
In 2010, he returned to the role of Barnabas Collins for the first time in 39 years in a Dark Shadows audio drama, Night Whispers. The following year along with his former Dark Shadows co-stars David Selby, Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott, he filmed a cameo appearance for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows film, which became his final film appearance. Just a few weeks prior to the film release Frid died at the Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton on April 14, 2012 following a fall at the age of 87.
As Barnabas Collins
Jonathan with fans during a ten-city tour, 1968
In the spring of 1968, when Mary O’Leary ran home from school to watch
the adventures of a guilt-ridden vampire on the television serial Dark
Shadows, she could never have imagined that the actor portraying the
monster, Jonathan Frid, would play a significant role in her life.
After graduating from Rhode Island College, Mary moved to New York
City to work in theatre production. She spent the next few years stage
managing shows Off-Broadway, in Regional Theatre, and in Summer
Stock. Her career goal shifted when she was hired to work in the
production office of the long-running daytime television drama, Guiding
Almost a year later she met actor Jonathan Frid and became the co-
producer of his theatrical production company, Clunes Associates. In this
role, she personally developed, nurtured, and marketed a series of one-
man shows that Frid performed at universities, libraries, and performing
arts centers across the country.
A decade later, Frid retired to Ancaster, Ontario and Mary went on to
produce NBC-TV’s Another World and ABC-TV’s One Life to Live. In 2001
she moved to Los Angeles and became a producer for ABC-TV’s General
Hospital. She won four Daytime Emmy Awards for her work. This was
followed by several years at CBS-TV’s The Young and the Restless, for
which she garnered three Daytime Emmy Awards.
In 2019, Mary was delighted to be hired by MPI Media Group to
conceive, produce, and direct a documentary on her friend and colleague
Jonathan Frid. Dark Shadows and Beyond — The Jonathan Frid Story
was released on October 5, 2021. Her documentary
has garnered a 2022 Daytime Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding
Daytime Special, a Telly Award for Best Documentary (Online), and 25
International Film Festival Awards.
Michael Giglio is an award-winning film editor, director of photography, and graphic designer with more than two decades of experience in broadcast, digital, and strategic communications. Clients range from Fortune 50 corporations and industry-leading production companies to small businesses and indie artists. He’s also the founder of Sociably Local, a New Jersey-based branding and communications agency.
Jim Pierson is a Los Angeles-based producer who began his career in television sports and radio broadcasting in his native Fort Worth, Texas. In 1990, Jim relocated to Los Angeles to begin a 15-year association working with veteran producer-director Dan Curtis as a writer’s assistant and promotional director. In 2005, he served as associate producer on the 2004 television pilot reboot of Dark Shadows.
Subsequently, Jim’s professional endeavors have focused on producing documentaries and music specials, primarily for PBS television. Among his credits are California Dreamin’ – The Songs of The Mamas & The Papas, Fever: The Music of Peggy Lee, Dolly Parton – I Will Always Love You, Close To You: Remembering The Carpenters, Carol Burnett’s Favorite Sketches, Aretha Franklin Remembered, Burt Bacharach’s Best, Folk Rewind, Motown Memories, Perry Como Classics, Petula Clark – This Is My Song, The Big Band Years, Dionne Warwick – Then Came You, Nat King Cole’s Greatest Songs, The Winds Of War: Behind The Scenes and Master of Dark Shadows.
(Voice of Jonathan Frid)
Born in Hamilton, Scotland, Ian Buchanan became a top International model with assignments that took him all over the world. When he was signed by the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency, he relocated to New York City. He studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and in 1986 he was cast in his first major daytime role, heartthrob Duke Lavery on General Hospital. After three years on the show he decided to pursue work in prime time television. He had recurring roles on It’s The Garry Shandling Show and Twin Peaks. These were followed by a string of guest appearances on numerous TV shows, including a role as a vampire in a 1993 episode of Quantum Leap.
Buchanan returned to daytime television in the role of Dr. James Warwick on The Bold & The Beautiful and garnered a Daytime Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1998. He went on to appear in three other daytime serials: Days of Our Lives; Port Charles and All My Children. In 2012, he returned to the role he had originated on General Hospital. Five years later fans of the show were shocked when the character was killed off.
Will McKinley began his career as a high school student writing for Dark Shadows star Jonathan Frid in the 1980s. Today, he’s a writer with more than 200 published articles, a video producer, and a digital marketing consultant and copywriter for TV networks like Game Show Network, Sony Movies, and getTV.