A Letter to Jonathan

My dear friend,

Once, when I talked to you in Canada, you told me that you were not going anywhere. You said you get out of bed, put on your robe and slippers, have a nibble of breakfast, and then sit down at your computer and check in with the world. So I took you at your word. You always told me what you thought. Now, you just up and go without a word. How dare you.

Barnabas and Quentin Collins

Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins and David Selby as Quentin Collins in DARK SHADOWS

You never mentioned that you were contemplating a long trip. After all, we had just recently returned from a rather long but short trip to the countryside of England where we took up residence in a very fine resort – at least what we saw of it was fine. The food you barely sampled, but the nightcap went down so smoothly that you told me you had not appreciated my entrance onto the show those many years ago. But I never knew. You were never anything but considerate to me, gentlemanly, a throwback to when there were gentlemen – courteous – exquisite charming manners but always with a quiet, respectful, measuring with those skeptical eyes, and then an easy smile.

It seemed right for such fellow travelers to be in England. We were there to replay, visit, all the way back, a bit of our ancient history. That highway never ends. It was worth the trip just to hold your hand as you stepped off the curb….worth it to reflect back on the fine time I had reading that play with you in New York to all your adoring fans, worth it to feel anxious at Pinewood Studios when I could not find you for a few moments.

How rare it is to be able to go back in time to see where it all began. Our hosts could not have been more cordial. After all, as Tim said, in the glorious drawing room of that mansion– none of us would be here if not for you.

Memory is a strange bird. It persists. Why? Memory is vivid. And love?! Well….what was it about Dark Shadows that compelled people like Tim and Johnny to watch, to be affected so, so strongly. They needed to watch, had to watch. They were drawn to Dark Shadows like a moth to light.

Your light was full of mystery, of history, of genealogy, of love. You carried the heavy past with such grace and allure. That need to watch had something to do with love, a love for you.

What is it about love that made Dark Shadows so needed by millions? They loved you, Jonathan, as did I.

The night is long, the candles will stay lit.

Till we meet again.


Webmaster’s note: Actor Jonathan Frid, who portrayed vampire Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows, passed away on April 14, 2012. In June 2011, Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, and David Selby made a brief trip to England to film cameos in the new Dark Shadows movie. In August 2011, David Selby appeared on stage with Jonathan Frid at the Dark Shadows Festival in Brooklyn to read a scene from the play Mass Appeal. It was their final performance together.

While appearing in Divine Rivalry at the Old Globe in San Diego, David Selby recorded audio of the letter to be presented at the Dark Shadows Day at Collinwood held at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York on July 28, 2012.

Thanks to the Dark Shadows Festival for allowing us to share this video with those who were unable to attend.

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Some Additional Holiday Thoughts

Just watched the most painful segment on 60 Minutes about people in Cleveland where their homes are underwater. . . . They owe more than the houses are worth. I simply am at a loss for how such people are being treated. It makes one so angry, and, yet, you feel so helpless to help them, but we MUST! All the tears will not help them. All the words won’t help.

This afternoon, I saw the Ford’s Theatre production of A Christmas Carol. It was wonderful. It should tour every town in America. Grown men were crying, as was I. Scrooge sees the light! It should be seen by every bank official in this country. It is not so much the individuals at the banks as it is the institution that is earning the cold reputation of Scrooge. Will these institutions find the compassion that Scrooge found? Will they look back on their histories and find their souls?

It is hard to understand why banks will foreclose and not attempt to lower the principal that is owed to them. Instead, they let the houses stand empty — soon to be looted of anything that has any value, thus driving the value of the house toward zero while creating another homeless family. I was fortunate to grow up in a home, a house that cost $5,000 — a house that my father built with help from his father and from my mother. I remember the payment that Mom would make out each month to the bank. That house gave me some sense of security. I was taught to respect the house, my home, to do right by it, to be a good boy in it, to be proud of it.

A house without people is nothing but a house, no different than the other foreclosed houses. It is the people that make the life of a house, that make the cold floors warm, the stale smells, sweet. What about the value of family, of loved ones, of children with their cries and shouts of joy? I cannot believe there is not a way to save these houses and, thus, the people that give them life. Knowing what has been done, what can we now do? There is not a more timely play to be seen than A Christmas Carol. Perhaps Scrooge can light the path of compassion.

Again, have a lovely and loving holiday.


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2011/2012 Holiday Message

David Selby

Deck The Halls premieres on TNT Dec. 20th 9pm ET/PT

Hello all and a merry, merry, holiday to each of you and your loved ones.

It is hard, to say the least, to read and see the turmoil across the world. . . man’s inhumanity to man. It is hard to see people turned out of their homes. With a middle class that is fragile, with abuses continuing in Medicare and Welfare, in Congress, in city halls across the country, on Wall Street, with an ex-governor and others padding their own pockets. . . it is hard not to be skeptical about what lies ahead. Can we all pull together and make this a country that will show the world that, yes, we can govern ourselves, we are not a house divided, we are the UNITED States of America?

Taking a line from a new play I am about to start rehearsal on in DC — “Knowing what we have done, what can we not do?” I have not done enough in my life to help others. . . I suppose the most an actor can wish is that some enjoyment be gotten from the plays, the films, the television shows. I have been fortunate to participate in so many and see the satisfaction many of those shows have brought to people (a couple of plays closed after one night and a couple of films. . . well). Like many of you, I look forward to seeing the new Tim Burton-Johnny Depp Dark Shadows film.

So — knowing that none of us can simply decree the world to be what we want it to be, what do you say to taking a day off from the newspaper, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FOX – and all the other media? Don’t tweet, don’t check Facebook, put the cell phone on vibrate — not power off because your mother may call or son or daughter or dear friend — just take a quiet moment to be thankful for life because it can be so very wonderful.

AND, tune in on Dec. 20th at 9pm to TNT for Deck The Halls. Also, if you happen to be in DC, in January or February, come by Ford’s Theatre for Necessary Sacrifices.

There is no way for me to adequately express my appreciation to those who have supported me over the years. I’m sitting at my computer looking out at the ocean, the sun is bright with a slight chill in the air. . . and my wife and I have four glorious grandchildren. Can grandchildren be anything but glorious? How blessed I am.

My love to you all and let us each do what we can for peace, freedom, equality, and progress. And may our hearts be touched “as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.”


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