The Journal Gazette
Thursday, June 10, 2021 9:20 am

May 1968: Visit by a vampire

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

A vampire came to Fort Wayne in May 1968, and teens packed in to see him.

Jonathan Frid, who stared as Barnabas Collins in the gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows," visited Glenbrook Shopping Center the week of May 20 and was greeted by a crowd of young screaming fans.

He told the crowd that his character is just a lonely man wanting to be understood, according to a story by Debi Sollohub, which appeared in The Journal Gazette that week.

"Barnabas is a 175 year old villain, really a vampire, who needs to drink blood to stay alive, although he does feel guilty about it," Frid said.

The actor appeared in 596 episodes of "Dark Shadows" starting in 1967, according to the Internet Movie Database. That's just under half of the series' 1,230 episodes. The soap opera aired weekdays on ABC from 1966 to 1971.

An exact date of Frid's visit is not given in the archived story. The full 1968 story appears below.

To suggest a date or subject for History Journal, email Corey McMaken at


" 'Vampire' Visits City – Draws Crowd Of Teens," by Debi Sollohub (May 25, 1968)

When a vampire pays a visit to Fort Wayne, it causes quite a disturbance with teens. This is especially true when the vampire is also a well-known actor on an afternoon soap opera.

Jonathan Frid, better known as Barnabas Collins of ABC's "Dark Shadows" is the vampire who appeared this week at the Glenbrook Shopping Center where a large, boisterous crowd of screaming young people and middle-aged women with their small children greeted their TV idol.

Barnabas voiced his pleasure with the large reception he received and commented that it was "one of the best."

Barnabas Collins wants to be like everyone else, Mr. Frid said of the character he portrays. "He's an awfully lonely man who wishes to be understood," he added.

"Barnabas is a 175 year old villain, really a vampire, who needs to drink blood to stay alive, although he does feel guilty about it," Frid explained.

Mr. Frid admitted that he takes his role seriously although others treat it as a joke.

Starting his career in Ontario where he grew up attempting to justify villains, Mr. Frid later appeared in high school and college productions. It was not until he was in the Navy, however, that he decided to become a professional actor.

This television and stage star studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and has played in Shakespearian dramas such as "Macbeth" and "Richard III.”

"I know my weaknesses as an actor," said Mr. Frid who receives thousands of pieces of mail weekly praising his portrayal as Barnabas.

Most of the stars' mail is from housewives who he feels like Barnabas because they can sympathize with him and mother him.

"The public has great share in writing the scripts." claimed Mr. Frid. "We received so many letters asking how Barnabas became a vampire that we decided to go back nearly 200 years to explain it."

One of the most interesting parts of Barnabas' attire for the program are his fangs which he carries with him on his tours. "I lost them in Cincinnati and have to be sure I don't leave them anywhere again," he said of what would be priceless treasures to any one of his fans.


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