Before True Blood, TV”s best-loved vampire was mortal actor Jonathan Frid, who played bloodsucking Barnabas Collins on ABC”s afternoon drama Dark Shadows from 1966 to 1971.
In sad news made public Thursday, Frid died last Friday (the 13th) in Ontario, Canada, where he was born and lived. He was 87.
He succumbed to natural causes in Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, according to Digital Spy, which first reported his death.
Frid”s passing comes just as a new Tim Burton movie version of Dark Shadows is set to open in theaters May 11.
Talking about the character Frid created, Johnny Depp, who stars in the movie, said earlier this year: “Theres something about this vampire coming back after 200 years into this modern world, with a touch of the poetic, with maybe a tendency to maybe wax a little poetic now and again. I have a good feeling about it. But Jonathan Frid”s Barnabas was so special.”
A graduate of Yale, Frid was a theater actor before appearing on Dark Shadows, which at its peak attracted 20 million viewers. After the show ended, he returned to the stage. He also reportedly makes a cameo in the Tim Burton movie.
In 1991, on the 20th anniversary of the TV show”s demise, Frid told us: “I only did the part for some pocket money to go teach on the West Coast. And, of course, because I didn”t particularly want the job, I got it. An audition room full of cadaverous-looking creeps, and I must have really looked the part.”
He added, “I always thought I looked like this damn silly ass. I couldn”t believe people were ever really scared.”