It was June 27, 1966 when the ‘Dark Shadows’ premiered on ABC. At 4:00 p.m. ET. 50 years ago viewers got their first look at the gothic soap opera which followed ‘General Hospital’ in the afternoon line up of daytime dramas.
The daytime drama was the brainchild of Dan Curtis and it was born from his dream of a mysterious young woman who was on a train. Art Wallace was hired by ABC to write a story from Curtis’ dream. The soap opera started out with the name ‘Shadows of the Wall.’ The show revolved around the wealthy Collins family from Collinsport, Maine who were tormented by strange occurrences.
‘Dark Shadows’ followed the lives, loves, trial and tribulations of the family. When vampire Barnabas Collins [Jonathan Frid] appeared in town a year later the soap opera became widely popular.
The cast included Louis Edmonds [Roger Collins], David Selby [Quentin Collins], David Henesy [David Collins], Joan Bennett [Elizabeth Collins Stoddard], Nancy Barrett [Carolyn Stoddard], Grayson Hall [Dr. Julia Hoffman, and Alexandra Isles [Victoria Winters].
Not only did ‘Dark Shadows’ feature a vampire, the storylines also included ghosts, werewolves, zombies, witches and warlocks. Time travel and a parallel universe were also included in the story of ‘Dark Shadows.’ The cast of the gothic daytime drama were required to play many roles.
What made ‘Dark Shadows’ stand out from other soap operas was its vivid and melodramatic performances, dark and gothic storylines, dramatic plot twists, the dramatic music and the broad range of characters as well as unique and heroic adventures.
ABC aired the network’s last episode of ‘Dark Shadows’ on April 2, 1971 after 1,225 episodes. The show continues to have an intense cult following to this day. In 2004 and 2007 ‘Dark Shadows’ was ranked #19 and #23 on TV Guide’s Top Cult Shows Ever.
In 2012 ‘Dark Shadows’ was made into a feature film starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard and Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman.