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

Jonathan Frid
Jonathan Frid Barnabas Collins 1968.jpg
Publicity photo of Frid on Dark Shadows, c. 1968
John Herbert Frid

(1924-12-02)December 2, 1924
DiedApril 14, 2012 (aged 87)
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
EducationMcMaster University (BA)
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (PGDip)
Yale University (MFA)
Years active1946–2012
Known forBarnabas Collins
TelevisionDark Shadows



Early life and careerEdit

Frid was born of Scottish[3] and English 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][4][5]

Frid served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. He graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton in 1948,[6] 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 with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 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 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 theatre 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 for a time and later returned to New York City in the early 1980s.[13]

Later careerEdit

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, also a Dark Shadows alumnus, 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, confirmed that Frid 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]


Year Title Role Notes
1970 House of Dark Shadows Barnabas Collins
1973 The Devil's Daughter Mr. Howard
1974 Seizure Edmund Blackstone
2012 Dark Shadows Guest (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c d Friscolanti, Michael (May 1, 2012). "Jonathan Frid". Macleans. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Margalit Fox (April 20, 2012). "Jonathan Frid, Ghoulish 'Dark Shadows' Star, Is Dead at 87". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. 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. ...
  3. ^ Hamrick, Craig (2003). Barnabas & Company: The Cast of the TV Classic Dark Shadows. iUniverse. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-595-29029-1.
  4. ^ The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society & Archives,; accessed October 31, 2015.
  5. ^ Archived from the original, April 26, 2012.
  6. ^ "McMaster University". Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c ""Biography"". Archived from the original on December 18, 2010. Retrieved May 10, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) (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.
  9. ^ "A Summing Up: My Career on the Stage". Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.
  10. ^ "Barnabas & Company". Dark Shadows Online (fansite). Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
  11. ^ Roar Like a Dove,; accessed October 31, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Craggs, Samantha (February 13, 2014). "Bid continues to honour 'Dark Shadows' star on Walk of Fame". CBC News. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  13. ^ Jonathan Frid on IMDb
  14. ^ Arsenic and Old Lace Archived March 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine,; 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. 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.
  17. ^ Finn, Natalie (April 19, 2012). "Johnny Depp Remembers Dark Shadows' Jonathan Frid: 'His Elegance and Grace Was an Inspiration'". E! Online.
  18. ^ Boucher, Geoff (April 19, 2012). "Johnny Depp: 'Shadows' star Jonathan Frid was 'elegant, magical'". Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ Pearson, Mike (April 19, 2012). "Remembering Jonathan Frid". Hamilton Community News. Hamilton, Ontario. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012.
  20. ^ Lovece, Frank (April 19, 2012). "'Dark Shadows' star vampire Jonathan Frid, 87". Newsday. ... died Saturday [April 14] ... a family representative told Newsday.

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit