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Remembering Dark Shadows and Vampires from my Childhood

Count Chocula

Count Chocula

[Flashback Friday]

Long before Generation X fell in love with Fright Night, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Count Von Count and my personal favorite, Count Chocula, Baby Boomer and Silent Generation women fell in love with Barnabas Collins, the love-sick vampire on Dark Shadows, a gothic TV soap opera that aired from 1966 to 1971.

I was four months shy of my 4th birthday when the last episode of Dark Shadows aired. This was a momentous event in our household, something my mother, older sisters and aunt discussed and lamented. It really took a bite out of their soap lineup. Ha!

Count Von Count

Count Von Count

My memories of Dark Shadows are a blur at best. I don’t remember the monsters, witches, warlocks, werewolves, time travel or parallel universe, but I do remember being afraid to watch the show.

All soap operas remind me of lonely summer afternoons as a kid, not to mention teenage wasteland when I was too young to get a job and too old to do anything else except flop on the couch and watch game shows and soap operas all day. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. I’d drench myself in baby oil and lay outside to get a tan. But, that’s another story for another day.

Because Hollywood hasn’t made enough remakes (ha!), Dark Shadows is making a comeback in the form of a fantasy comedy, which opens in May. There are four words you can use to describe a movie that will ensure I won’t see it and they are “Tim Burton” and “Johnny Depp.” Burton directs the remake and Depp stars in it. I didn’t like that Halloween Christmas movie Burton did. (What a creep.) And, Depp was so off-the-wall weird in Willy Wonka, I’ve never gotten passed his interpretation.

So, I don’t know if I’ll be seeing Dark Shadows the movie. But, given Juliette’s affection for the Twilight Series and my mom’s affection for Dark Shadows, I’m thinking this might be a fun film for them to see together!

Dark Shadows TV soap

Dark Shadows TV Soap

I asked my mom to write something about the original Dark Shadows soap and this is what she came up with.

There is no doubt about it — I was addicted! I loved the drama, the mystery, the adventure, the storyline, and the 200 year old Vampire, Barnabas Collins. I can still hear the foreboding musical score. Dark Shadows is on TV. I didn’t want to miss an episode!

This gothic soap opera was nothing like the soaps of my childhood. With our ears glued to the radio, my mother and I would listen to the dramatic trials of Our Gal Sunday, The Romance of Helen Trent and Stella Dallas, all the while doing our daily chores. 

With the popularity of television, the stories on radio waned and soap operas were invited into our homes via the TV. The only problem, you could no longer just listen to the program, you had to watch it as well. They were fun times.

When Dark Shadows first aired on TV, I was captivated by the actors There was nothing ghoulish about Jonathan Fied’s portrayal as Barnabas Collins. He was quite the genteel vampire and both David Selby and Kate Jackson were on the threshold of their careers. Joan Bennett, a seasoned actress, was my all time favorite. She as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, a distant cousin of Barnabas, conveyed the essence of beauty romance and a touch of mystic. I watched many of the re-runs when the show was canceled.

My granddaughter, Juliette, is a great fan of “Twilight.” Hopefully, she and I will be seeing the new Dark Shadows together. It should prove to be an interesting experience.

Do you remember Dark Shadows and vampires? Who’s your favorite vampire?

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Jennifer

    I thought about you when I was writing this post. You’re quite a bit younger than my mom – she’s 78 – but I wondered if you watched this show.

  2. granbee

    I remember quite well Dark Shadows and caught some episodes every week in my college dorm living room after classes, labs, university chorus and projects at the campus Wesleyan Foundation. My mother and I listened on the radio to Young Doctor Malone, The Shadow, and the Lone Ranger! My favorite vampire was also Barnabas Collins!

  3. Jennifer James

    @ANDI I wonder if your mom watched it, too.

  4. Jennifer James

    Cool story, Yogi. I can’t remember if I’ve ever known where you grew up. ?

  5. Andi

    I don’t remember anyone in my family talking about this show, but I have a family reunion coming up and I am going to ask!

  6. Yogi♪♪♪

    My brother and I used to run home from school to get our chores done (we heated the house with wood, and it took a lot of it) so we could watch Dark Shadows. I don’t hardly remember any of it except that we were also addicted.

    I’m not a fan of Tim Burton either.

  7. Jennifer James

    Great memories, Rita. It was a long time ago. Thanks for stopping by.

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