Johnny Depp of Jonathan Frid's Death "The world has lost a true original."
In a heartbreaking twist of fate, Jonathan Frid, the actor who originally portrayed Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows," won't get to see the retro soap transition to the big screen.
Frid's nephew Don told CNN that the 87-year-old actor passed away in the early morning hours of April 14 in Hamilton, Ontario after battling pneumonia. According to his nephew, Frid had been in the hospital for about two weeks prior to his passing.
Frid "was excited" about Tim Burton's film version of "Dark Shadows," Don said. "He was 85 when he first heard of it, and he entertained the idea of doing it. He never thought it would surface, but when the time came to do it, he was adamant about seeing a script first."
Time constraints couldn't allow for that, though, so Frid, 86 at the time, flew to England to shoot a cameo in the movie before returning home.
“He was a happy person and he enjoyed what he did," Don said. "It is important to know that he really gave his all to be part of the 'Dark Shadows' festivals over the last five years. He did it to make his fans happy. It was all about the fans.”
And those fans include actor Johnny Depp, who steps into the role made famous by Frid in Burton's film, which opens May 11.
"Jonathan Frid was the reason I used to run home from school to watch 'Dark Shadows'" Depp said in a statement to People magazine. "His elegance and grace was an inspiration then and will continue to remain one forever more. When I had the honor to finally meet him, as he so generously passed the torch of Barnabas to me, he was as elegant and magical as I had always imagined. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. The world has lost a true original."
Frid's nephew Don told CNN that the actor is fondly remembered by his family members, and it sounds like that can be extended to past collaborators as well. Frid's former "Dark Shadows" co-star Kathryn Leigh Scott said in a statement on her website that she is "so grateful" to have worked with him "and to have known him as the charismatic, entertaining, complex and plain-spoken man that he was."
Frid "was irascible, irreverent, funny, caring, lovable and thoroughly professional," Scott continued, "and in the end became the whole reason why kids ran home from school to watch 'Dark Shadows.' I love you Jonathan. Rest in peace."