Depp on Jonathan Frid's death: World has lost an original
April 20th, 2012
10:28 AM ET

Depp on Jonathan Frid's death: World has lost an original

In a heartbreaking twist of fate, Jonathan Frid, the actor who originally portrayed Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows," won't get to see the retro soap transition to the big screen.

Frid's nephew Don told CNN that the 87-year-old actor passed away in the early morning hours of April 14 in Hamilton, Ontario after battling pneumonia. According to his nephew, Frid had been in the hospital for about two weeks prior to his passing.

Frid "was excited" about Tim Burton's film version of "Dark Shadows," Don said. "He was 85 when he first heard of it, and he entertained the idea of doing it. He never thought it would surface, but when the time came to do it, he was adamant about seeing a script first."

Time constraints couldn't allow for that, though, so Frid, 86 at the time, flew to England to shoot a cameo in the movie before returning home.

β€œHe was a happy person and he enjoyed what he did," Don said. "It is important to know that he really gave his all to be part of the 'Dark Shadows' festivals over the last five years. He did it to make his fans happy. It was all about the fans.”

And those fans include actor Johnny Depp, who steps into the role made famous by Frid in Burton's film, which opens May 11.

"Jonathan Frid was the reason I used to run home from school to watch 'Dark Shadows'" Depp said in a statement to People magazine. "His elegance and grace was an inspiration then and will continue to remain one forever more. When I had the honor to finally meet him, as he so generously passed the torch of Barnabas to me, he was as elegant and magical as I had always imagined. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. The world has lost a true original."

Frid's nephew Don told CNN that the actor is fondly remembered by his family members, and it sounds like that can be extended to past collaborators as well. Frid's former "Dark Shadows" co-star Kathryn Leigh Scott said in a statement on her website that she is "so grateful" to have worked with him "and to have known him as the charismatic, entertaining, complex and plain-spoken man that he was."

Frid "was irascible, irreverent, funny, caring, lovable and thoroughly professional," Scott continued, "and in the end became the whole reason why kids ran home from school to watch 'Dark Shadows.' I love you Jonathan. Rest in peace."

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Paul

    Dark Shadows wasn't a comedy!!!

    April 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. guardiansnet

    Jonathan Frid was indeed an original giving his Barnabas Collins an eerie disposition while still cultivating audience sympathy. I've been a huge fan of Dark Shadows since I was a child. I even wrote a song looking to capture the deep and complex character of Barnabas Collins as played by Jonathan Frid. Yes, its a song called Barnabas Collins. Let me know what you think. You can hear that here:

    April 24, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ray

    I have no doubt that Frid's timing in passing will save him from being subjected to the latest garbage from Depp and Burton that is an insult to true Dark Shadows fans. I grateful that he will be spared being associated with this tripe.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • GreedyGussie

      Oh the horror! He is associated with this tripe (as you call it). He has a cameo in the film.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jgn

    You people would have to explain to me why it's a crime in your books to re do an old series in a totally different way. If you are so stuck on Barnabas the way he was depicted in the original DS, you can easily watch that on DVD collections over and over and over. Why be so arrogant and rigid as to state that NO ONE should EVER tamper with the original score? Comedy is what keeps us alive...ooops, maybe you're all undead πŸ˜‰

    April 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DragonWatcher

    Give Johnny a break! Can't wait for the movie looks so funny, sorry wasn't around when the original came out, saw thee one they did in 81, never said they had to stick to drama with this, I think it is hysterical and well he doesn't sparkle that's a plus. Think to many expect remakes to be the same as the show, well they don't make Novels over very well either or has no one seen Queen of the Damned? Really about time someone did a vampire with a sense of humor instead of angst and glitter.

    April 23, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Matthew Black

    As a longtime Dark Shadows fan, when I saw the Burton/Depp version's trailer, I didn't know whether to laugh like hell or be offended by it. I think in the end I will be pragmatic and merely be a bit disappointed by the missed opportunity the new film represents. If it fails, it wont have any bearing on the well-loved original. Still, for those wishing a more serious version – the prematurely ended 1991 remake starring Ben Cross was actually fairly good in my opnion, paying decent homage to the original.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kitty

    I agree with everyone else... The original wasn't a comedy, this was a great opportunity to make an awesome serious vampire movie and they totally blew it... A comedy... I'm still in disbelief! SMH! R.I.P to the original and only Barnabus Collins

    April 22, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. claudiabarclay

    I can't wait to see the movie! Hope it's as good as everyone is telling me it's going to be.... I'm a huge Depp fan!!!

    April 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jb2817

    That's sad

    April 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jerseygirl

    Geez maybe now they will stop opening his coffin!

    April 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Barnabas Depp

    Why does every remake have to be campy? The original wasn't campy. Is that all we can remember the past by? Are they afraid of doing an accurate representation of the original? I cringe every time I hear of another remake. It's like they're making fun of the original rather than honoring it.

    April 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |

      I totally agree. Im so afraid it's going to be goofy and stupid..which was not at all what the original was. Jonathan Frid was an elegant, charming, seductive vampire. Big shoes to fill...please do it justice Depp

      April 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Miss Understood

    I'm glad Frid, along with a couple other soap originals, did the cameo in the party scene. Too bad he can't see the finished product. RIP Frid.

    April 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Leucadia Bob

    April 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. >{Β‘}

    we'll wait til it comes to RedBox

    April 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ed

    The people bashing this movie and bashing Johnny Depp need to learn how to relax and have fun. Get over yourselves.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Pliny

    Tim Burton has been making the same movie, over and over again, for the last 20 years.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  17. James

    A gentleman and scholar. RIP Mr. Frid

    April 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Huh!

    I used to watch Dark Shadows, too. Even though the movie will not follow the same theme, I'm looking forward to it. Tim Burton's movies are quirky. You know that going in. Nothing could resemble the original anyway.

    April 20, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  19. Baby Bird

    Aaaaaah i'm so scared of this efd up remake Johnny Depp is as phony as they come.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  20. Sokman

    This movie looks God-Awful. More like an Addams Family or Edward Scissorhands sequel.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |

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