On a day fitting that he should pass away--Friday the 13th, 2012--Jonathan Frid did so. I admit I prefer werewolves and other shapeshifters as my favorite horror/paranormal creatures, and always have, but Barnabas Collins has and always will be, the only vampire who won my heart.
I remember when I finally watched Dark Shadows for the first time. It was just before he appeared. He wore the outfit and long cape of a man from the 1700s, but after Willie Loomis released him, he took possession of the Old House and dressed in modern dress with a caped coat such as Sherlock Holmes might wear, went to the Collins House for the first time. There was something about him that touched me even before he left the darkside for the light. Jonathan Frid brought this vulnerability that pushed through the layers of darkness.
No other vampire has done it for me since. And he brought forth the tormented vampire, long before Angel came along. And yes, I think Buffy would have never staked Barnabas--he would have charmed her.
The new movie by Tim Burton is coming out, a comedic endeavor, but those of you who see it and think that's the Dark Shadows my generation watched, it's not. If you can get hold of DVDs or find it on Hulu (not the free one--that is the 90s remake with Ben Cross and he did not free me of my devotion to Frid's vampire), do so. Ignore the mistakes the soap made when filming and watch it for what it brought: something timeless. And you too just might fall in love with a vampire named Barnabas Collins.