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Little-known facts about TV’s ‘Dark Shadows’

Sweetums and I were watching a 1960s black-and-white horror movie the other night in which scenes were cloaked in heavy fog. It reminded me of the old “Dark Shadows” shows my big brother Doofus and I would watch after school.  The show ran from 1966-1971 so it would have been in reruns by that time. It’s entirely possible this show is one of the influences on my career choice as Weird News Reporter.

For the clueless: “Dark Shadows” was a supernatural soap opera, complete with vampires, long before sparkly vampires stole teenagers’ hearts. Like other soaps, it was on five days a week.

Doofus and I loved that show – although memories of it now are about as fuzzy as the over-used machine-generated fog. I remember how creepy that opening music was. (Listen to it below).

Doofus and I were mighty disappointed when the 2012 remake with Johnny Depp turned out to be a spoof. I haven’t seen the show on TV in a long while so I did a little searching on the internet and thought I’d share some of the nostalgic trivia I found (sources: IMDb, Mental Floss):

1. “Dark Shadows” was the first daily soap opera to be syndicated.

(Source: IMDb)


2. Alabama native and future “Charlie’s Angel” Kate Jackson starred in the series. Another angel Jaclyn Smith, was offered the role of Victoria Winters but turned it down.


3. The shows were filmed in color beginning in 1967, becoming ABC’s first soap opera to appear in color.

4. According to IMDb, it would be more than 400 episodes before the word “vampire” was used. Instead, when referring to Barnabas Collins, actors would say things like, “He’s not alive!” “He’s one of the undead” and “He walks at night but he ain’t alive.”



5. Writers hoped to cure the original villain, the vampire Barnabas Collins. IMDb said: “Since the show was canceled rather suddenly, viewers never learned Barnabas’ fate. But according to one of the writers, here’s what they had planned–Barnabas was going to marry his doctor, Julia Hoffman, and move to Asia, where she would eventually discover a cure for his vampirism.”

6. A portrait of Quentin Collins’ acted as the Portrait of Dorian Grey of literary fame. The subject didn’t age and any injuries he suffered happened to the portrait instead. The portrait of Angelique would fade and crack when she was endangered but be restored when she was restored.

(Source: Dark Shadows wiki)

7. The interior of the Collinswood mansion was built in a New York City studio. The exterior was a real house, but it wasn’t in Maine, where the show was set. It was in Newport, RI.

CareyMansion_crop mccullarsj wiki
Seaview Terrace in Rhode Island. (Source: McCullarsJ via Wikimedia Commons)

8. TV actor and game show host Bert Convy was considered for the role of Barnabas Collins.

Bert Convy publicity photo. (Source:

9. “Dark Shadows” was ranked No. 19 in TV Guide’s list of “25 Top Cult Shows Ever” in 2004.

Cast publicity photo

10. Denise Nickerson, who played Violet Beauregard in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” portrayed Amy Jennings on the show. She also appeared on “The Brady Bunch” and was a regular on “The Electric Company.”

Amy and Barnabas
Denis Nickerson with Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins.

11.  According to, camera operators learned trick to keep effects cheap. “With a roughly $70,000 budget to shoot its five weekly episodes, ‘Dark Shadows’ had to approach its special effects conservatively. Camera operator Stuart Goodman found that covering his lens with plastic wrap and then dabbing Vaseline at the edges to create a hazy, dreamlike visual was surprisingly effective. To emulate actors being trapped in a blaze, Goodman would simply put a bucket in front of himself and light it on fire.”

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12. Jonathan Frid who played Barnabas Collins was in his 40s and never intended to become a heart-throb but vampires provide popular even then. Mental Floss wrote: “He was once invited to a Halloween party at the White House (in character) and judged a Miss American Vampire beauty contest, with the winner earning a small role in the show.”


10 thoughts on “Little-known facts about TV’s ‘Dark Shadows’”

  1. Did you know that seasons one and two of the “Dark Shadows” series is available to stream (‘FREE !’) on Amazon Prime? The others seasons are out there too, but they aren’t Prime.


  2. One of my favorite shows when I was a kid. Barnabas was the first “sympathetic” vampire, I’m sure he inspired Anne Rice and all the other writers of vampire stories in novels and on TV and movies since (True Blood, Twilight, etc, etc.) He scared all of us young girls, but we loved him anyway. I live in RI and have seen the house in Newport up close and personal. It looks even more creepy in person than on TV. A fan group hosts a Halloween party there every year!


  3. One of my favorite shows when I was a kid. Barnabas was the first “sympathetic” vampire, I’m sure he inspired Anne Rice and all the other writers since then who’ve written vampire stories in novels and on TV (True Blood, Twilight, etc. etc.) He scared all us young girls, but we loved him anyway! I live in RI and have seen the house up close and personal, and it’s even more creepy in real life than on TV. A fan group hosts a Halloween party there every year. Amazon now has Collection 1-17 and 23 on Prime. My local library has the DVD sets, yours might also.


  4. Barnabus was cured of his curse when the show ended. Are we talking about the same show?
    Angelique lifted the curse before she was killed. Do some research.


      1. With due respect, there is only one interpretation. That is what happened. Angelique lifted the curse to help Barnabus defeat Gerard and save Quentin. She was shot and killed by Reverend Trask while she was mortal. The curse forever ended, Barnabus mortal, Angelique goes to hell.


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