World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

F Entries
  Federico Fellini
  Richard Fleischer
  Louise Fletcher
  D.C. Fontana
  Harrison Ford
  Anne Francis
  Joanna Frank
  John Frankenheimer
  Brendan Fraser
  Jonathan Frid
(John Herbert Frid 1924–2012). Canadian actor.

IMDB credits Jonathan Frid's film career was brief, but uniquely influential. Armed with an impressive résumé that included stops at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Yale School of Drama, Frid regularly worked almost exclusively on the stage until the mid-1960s, though he played minor roles in television adaptations of Henry IV (Play of the Week, 1960) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (Golden Showcase, 1961). The event that changed his life was the premiere in 1966 of the daily soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971); seeking to distinguish itself from competitors by cautiously emulating the Gothic novel, the show began with tepid intimations of supernatural events enveloping a new governess at a remote mansion. After a year of disappointing ratings, the producers resolved to take a chance on forthright fantasy by introducing a new character, vampire Barnabas Collins, and Frid was given the role. Suddenly the show became a huge success, and the previously unknown Frid emerged as a major celebrity.

In most respects, Frid seemed an unlikely candidate for stardom: he was already in his forties when he joined the cast of Dark Shadows, and he was by no means conventionally handsome. But he excelled in portraying someone who seems different from other people and feels uncomfortable in their company, making his Collins appealing and sympathetic. In fact, in both his appearance and manner, Frid bore a certain resemblance to Boris KARLOFF; thus, it is not surprising that, later in life, he was cast as Jonathan Brewster, the man said to resemble Karloff, in a stage production of Arsenic and Old Lace. And, just as Karloff's skills helped to make the Frankenstein mythos a recurring presence in films, Frid's popularity surely played a key role in establishing the figure of the vampire, previously relegated to horror films, as a mainstay of popular culture, particularly since he perhaps qualifies as film's first heroic vampire . It is not a coincidence that Anne Rice's best-selling vampire novel, Interview with the Vampire (1976), was published a few years after Dark Shadows came to an end, and if you feel that vampires are now woefully overrepresented in literature and film, Frid is one of the individuals that you must blame.

Yet Frid himself proved unable, or unwilling, to sustain his own film career; perhaps this veteran stage actor felt uncomfortable on film sets, in the company of film actors. So it was that, after appearing as Collins in a palatable film adaptation of the series, House of Dark Shadows (1970), and taking a supporting role as a butler in a routine horror film, The Devil's Daughter (1973), Frid returned to the stage, starring in several plays and a touring one-man show.  His final film performance was a cameo in Johnny DEPP's disastrously farcical reboot of Dark Shadows (2012), a film that only served to make one appreciate Frid's understated talents even more.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2018 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art