Jonathan Frid

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Jonathan Frid
Frid in 2001
Born John Herbert Frid
(1924-12-02)December 2, 1924
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Died April 14, 2012 (aged 87)
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Cause of death Pneumonia
Nationality Canadian
Education McMaster University
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art,
Yale School of Drama
Occupation Actor
Years active 1960-2012
Known for Barnabas Collins
Notable work Dark Shadows
Television Dark Shadows

John Herbert "Jonathan" Frid (December 2, 1924 – April 14, 2012)[1] was a Canadian theater, television, and film actor, known for having played the role of vampire Barnabas Collins on the gothic television soap opera Dark Shadows.[2]


Early life and career

Frid was born of Scottish,[3] English, German and Danish[4] ancestry in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He was the youngest son of homemaker Isabella Flora (née McGregor) and Herbert Percival "H.P." Frid, a construction executive.[1][5][6]

Frid served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. He graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton in 1948, and the following year was accepted at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.He moved to the United States in 1954, and received a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Directing from the Yale School of Drama in 1957.[7] As a student at Yale in 1956, he starred in the premiere of William Snyder's play A True And Special Friend.[8] He went on to star in the first productions at the Williamstown Theater in Williamstown, Massachusetts and stage productions in Canada, England and the United States.[9]

He began using the stage name Jonathan Frid in 1962,[10] and made his Broadway debut as an understudy in the 1964 play Roar Like a Dove.[11]


Early television roles on the Canadian Broadcasting Company included parts in Julius Caesar,[12] 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,[7] Our Town,[citation needed] and The Picture of Dorian Gray.[12]

Frid as Barnabas Collins, 1968.

Frid is widely known for the role of vampire Barnabas Collins on the original gothic cult television serial Dark Shadows, which ran from 1966-71. He starred as Barnabas Collins in the 1970 movie House of Dark Shadows. In 1967, Frid had made plans to move to the U.S. West Coast to pursue a career as an acting teacher when he won the role that ultimately made him a household name. As Frid explained on his Web site, he had barely entered his apartment as the phone call from his agent came informing him that he had won the role of Barnabas Collins. He agreed to accept it after being told it was a short-term one that would provide him with extra cash while he prepared to move. As the character's popularity soared, Frid scrapped those plans.[7]

After Dark Shadows ended in 1971, he returned to performing in live theater full-time with starring roles in the Broadway plays Murder in the Cathedral as Thomas Becket and Wait Until Dark as Harry Roat. Frid had previously played the role of a psychiatrist on the CBS Television soap opera As the World Turns. In 1973, Frid appeared in the TV movie The Devil's Daughter, starring Shelley Winters, and the following year starred in Oliver Stone's directorial debut, Seizure. In 1978, he returned to Canada.[13]

Later career

Frid began performing readings at Dark Shadows fan conventions in the 1980s, and while developing ideas for his one-man shows. He succeeded Abe Vigoda as Jonathan Brewster in the 1986-87 Broadway revival of Arsenic and Old Lace.[14]

In 1994, he retired and returned to Canada. He continued to perform one-man shows for charities in both Canada and the United States. In 2000, he starred in the play Mass Appeal which enjoyed a successful, limited run in Hamilton and at the Stirling Festival Theatre in Stirling, Ontario.[citation needed]

Frid attended Dark Shadows conventions in New York in August 2007, Burbank, California, in July 2008, and Elizabeth, New Jersey, in August 2009. In 2010, he returned to the role of Barnabas for the first time in 39 years in a Dark Shadows audio drama, The Night Whispers.[15] Along with former Dark Shadows castmates Lara Parker, David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott, he spent three days at Pinewood Studios in June 2011 filming a cameo appearance as a guest in the 'happening' scene for the 2012 Tim Burton Dark Shadows film,[16] which became his final film appearance.


Frid died at Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, of pneumonia[1] and complications after a fall.[2] While some sources at the time variously reported the date of his death as April 13[17][18] or April 14,[2][19][20] Frid's nephew, David Howitt, subsequently confirmed that Frid in fact died in the early hours of April 14, 2012. Howitt added that while Friday the 13th "makes for good press... it’s good to get it right.”[1]

Personal life

Frid never married.[13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Friscolanti, Michael (May 1, 2012). "Jonathan Frid". Macleans. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Margalit Fox (April 20, 2012). "Jonathan Frid, Ghoulish 'Dark Shadows' Star, Is Dead at 87". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 31, 2015. Jonathan Frid, a Shakespearean actor who found unexpected — and by his own account unwanted — celebrity as the vampire Barnabas Collins on the sanguinary soap opera 'Dark Shadows', died last Saturday, April 14, in Hamilton, Ontario. He was 87. ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Hamrick, Craig (2003). Barnabas & Company: The Cast of the TV Classic Dark Shadows. iUniverse. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-595-29029-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "A Daytime Dracula Lurks in the Depths of Terrorvision's Dark Shadows". Famous Monsters of Filmland (52). Warren Publishing. October 1968. Retrieved July 3, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society & Archives,; accessed October 31, 2015.
  6. Archived from the original, April 26, 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Biography" at the Wayback Machine (archived December 18, 2010) (2002). Jonathan Frid (official site). Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.
  8. "Belknap Playbill and Program Collection". University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries. Archived from the original on May 19, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "A Summing Up: My Career on the Stage". Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Barnabas & Company". Dark Shadows Online (fansite). Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Roar Like a Dove,; accessed October 31, 2015.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Craggs, Samantha (February 13, 2014). "Bid continues to honour 'Dark Shadows' star on Walk of Fame". CBC News. Retrieved 2014-03-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 Jonathan Frid at the Internet Movie Database
  14. Arsenic and Old Lace,; accessed October 31, 2015.
  15. "Jonathan Frid Reprises Role of Barnabas Collins for Dark Shadows Audio Return". April 30, 2010. Archived from the original on May 25, 2010. Retrieved May 3, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Archived version requires text blocking to make text visible.
  16. Woman, The (July 23, 2011). "San Diego Comic-Con 2011: Dark Shadows Panel Highlights; Original Cast Cameos Confirmed for Tim Burton's Dark Shadows Film". Retrieved May 3, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Finn, Natalie (April 19, 2012). "Johnny Depp Remembers Dark Shadows' Jonathan Frid: 'His Elegance and Grace Was an Inspiration'". E! Online.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Boucher, Geoff (April 19, 2012). "Johnny Depp: 'Shadows' star Jonathan Frid was 'elegant, magical'". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Pearson, Mike (April 19, 2012). "Remembering Jonathan Frid". Hamilton Community News. Hamilton, Ontario. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Lovece, Frank (April 19, 2012). "'Dark Shadows' star vampire Jonathan Frid, 87". Newsday. ... died Saturday [April 14] ... a family representative told Newsday.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Further reading

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