9 terrifyingly amusing facts about 'Dark Shadows'

Did you used to run home and watch this soap opera as a kid?

Once in a blue moon, a show comes along that captivates people around the country. In the late 1960s, that show was Dark Shadows. Every day, teens would rush home from school just to find out what was happening at Collinwood. 

What was once a popular soap opera has now turned into a cult classic, and it's still beloved by millions of people. To honor its 50th anniversary this year, here's a look at nine things you might not have known about Collinwood, Barnabas and the legend that is Dark Shadows. 

1. Barnabas Collins wasn't supposed to be a main character.

Not many people were fans of the show when it first aired in 1966. In order to improve ratings, creator Dan Curtis brought on a vampire for a limited run. That vampire was Barnabas Collins, and he proved to be so popular that Curtis kept him in the storyline. 

2. Was Barnabas Collins a vampire?

Collins first appeared in the 211th episode of the series, but it took the cast until the 410th episode to utter the word "vampire." Before that, the characters would refer to him with lines like "he's not alive," "he's one of the undead" and "he walks at night but he ain't alive." Looks like they were dropping some serious clues. 

3. There is a missing episode.

During its five year run, the cast filmed an impressive 1,225 episodes. However, one of them was lost along the way. When the distributor decided to release the series on home video, it discovered episode 1,219 was missing. Instead, they reconstructed the episode with audio and photos. 

4. Only two actors stuck around the whole time.

Of those 1,225 episodes, only two actors appeared in the first and last. Joan Bennett and Louis Edmonds were the ones there from start to finish, despite multiple cast changes. Nancy Barrett first appeared in the second episode, but was also in the cast for the full run.

5. The show had a pretty slim budget.

The studio allocated Dark Shadows a mere $70,000 a week to produce five episodes. That means the production team had to get creative. One camera operator discovered that putting plastic wrap and Vaseline around the edges of the lens made a great effect for dream sequences. 

Image: AP Photo/Bob Wands 

6. It was a little dangerous.

Because the production timeline was so strict, the show had to be taped straight through with no retakes, never mind if actors flubbed their lines or a crewman walked onset. In one instance, Kate Jackson's nineteenth century dress caught on fire because she was surrounded by candles. The camera crew kept filming as if nothing happened. 

7. That's not Jonathan Frid in that famous portrait.

Remember that famous portrait of Barnabas Collins that hung at Collinwood? Well, in fact, it's not actually Jonathan Frid posing as his character. One of the producers stood in as Barnabas, and the artist left the face blank to fill it in with Frid's features. 

8. It has a lot of "firsts."

In an era when soap operas enjoyed massive popularity, Dark Shadows stood out from the rest in a couple of ways. It was the first soap opera to be shot in color on ABC. It was also the first soap opera to spawn three films. The first two came out in the early '70s after the series ended, and the most recent one hit theaters in 2012. 

9. The cast actually got along.

When a series has an ensemble cast, you often hear of feuds or arguments among the costars. That wasn't really the case for Dark Shadows. Barrett said she thought the cast was very close, particularly because they literally spent the entire day together filming and rehearsing lines. 

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CarolCoons 39 months ago
Tubi has it even Dark Shadows: the beginning, which is well worth watching. It’s free too, no paying for Amazon Prime.
trishaatwood 40 months ago
I have the series on dvd I got it as a gift last year but I have not watched it yet I have been watching the episodes on decades here and there but I am keenly interested in watching it now I am going to be sitting down to the binge watching either before or after the weekend of twilight zone that I have been waiting for them to put back on the regular TV for many years I used to watch twilight zone every new years growing up then cable robbed us of that tradition it may be the last new years as we've known it (sorta) but I will let you guys know what I think of dark shadows next year happy days as many as you can get live each day like it's your last cause we never know if it is god bless you all
Andrea 51 months ago
RIPP John Karlen, I Loved Your Character Willie Loomis on Dark Shadows ♥️
Cowgirl 51 months ago
I'd love to see Dark Shadows on MeTv.
Joe Cowgirl 51 months ago
But not at 3 a.m..
ps249 Cowgirl 44 months ago
It is on Pluto TV it has its very own channel. Just search under :classic TV".
Doodlebug2 Cowgirl 44 months ago
If you have Amazon Prime you can watch it there.
trishaatwood Cowgirl 40 months ago
Decades is showing it early mornings weekdays
Quentin 60 months ago
Yes!! Dark Shadows would be great for MeTV!! The audio for the "Lost Episode" of Dark Shadows was provided to the home video producers by a fan who recorded the TV sound with their tape recorder. In the days before VHS or DVRs, that was the only way to replay your favorite show. I might have been guilty of that, recording the 70's SNL, and then replaying it to my friends on the school bus on Monday. That particular DS episode was quite an important one too! I'm glad it wasn't lost.
trishaatwood Quentin 40 months ago
I did that with the movie the outsiders I would watch it on HBO and showtime and my friend and I taped it to my tape recorder and would listen to it when we were not able to watch it again in those days long before VHS and even much longer before the DVDs lol yes milinuals there was a time when we did not have such things and our phone was on a cord that was plugged into the wall and we had to be home to get the calls the farthest away from the wall they could be taken depended on how long of a cord your parents allowed you to have and if no one was home to answer your phone you didn't know anyone called at all crazy huh I kinda miss those days
TheSuperdevil trishaatwood 37 months ago
"The Outsiders" was released on VHS in 1983. VHS had been on the market for seven years by that point, so you were not recording audio tapes of The Outsiders "long before VHS." Also, I believe you're mistaking 'milinuals' (did you mean 'millennials'?) for Generation Z. Millenials started being born in 1980, so it's not like the world of 1983 was some distant historical time period to them. Oh, and answering machines have existed since the 1950s so there existed technology in 1983 that allowed you to know who called you while you were away from home, even if you weren't aware of such things. Oh, and cordless phones were also a thing by 1983, so I'm not sure what point(s) you were trying to make except that you were ignorant of the world around you as a young person, or that you have something against millennials, or that you can't spell 'millennials', or that you avoid punctuation because you're unsure of where to insert commas and periods.
Eric 62 months ago
How about airing Dark Shadows on MeTV? It'd be much better than Charlie's Angels at 4 p.m..
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