First of all, the original sexy vampire, Canadian actor Jonathan Frid who played Barnabas Collins on on the gothic soap Dark Shadows in the late 1960s, died aged 87. There is another obituary here.
Jonathan Frid had a lot more pop cultural relevance than one would expect from a Shakespearean actor turned soap opera star. For Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas Collins was the moment where the depiction of the vampire shifted from outright monster, sexy or not, to tortured, sympathetic and more importantly human being. Without Barnabas Collins we would not have Edward Cullen or Lestat or Angel or Spike or Bill Compton or Eric Northman or the Salvatore brothers or Cassidy from Preacher or the Black Dagger Brotherhood or Christine Feehan’s Carpathians or Henry Fitzroy or Jean-Claude from the Anita Blake series or insert your favourite sexy and not entirely villainous vampire here. And, last but not least, without Jonathan Frid I wouldn’t have a PhD thesis topic, especially since the obituaries suggest that the decision to portray Barnabas Collins as a troubled but sympathetic human rather than as an outright monster was Jonathan Frid’s.
Truly a remarkable actor who probably had no idea how influential his portrayal of a melodramatic villain in a somewhat hokey soap opera would eventually become.
Coincidentally, another Dark Shadows star, David Selby, who played the sympathetic werewolf Quentin Collins, was a huge teenaged crush of mine for his roles in Falcon Crest (where he had a romance with Susan Sullivan, now Richard Castle’s formidable mother) and Flamingo Road (which also starred a very young Mark Harmon as a sleazy deputy/aspiring politician), even though he was older than my own parents at the time.