Monday, October 29, 2007

Of Dark Shadows and The Poison Dwarf

When I was in grade school, my family moved around a lot, but whether I was running home from a bus stop in Chicago, St. Paul, or Durham, North Carolina, Dark Shadows provided continuity in my life. The show, eventually centered around vampiric and other supernatural energies, ran from the late 1960s into the early 1970s, and I was addicted. I especially loved Angelique the witch (Lara Parker) and Daphne, Kate Jackson's main character (most of the actors played multiple parts at one point or another). In short, I was braced for dating and marriage when I got older. . . . .

Kate Jackson had a particularly haunted look and a truly haunting effect on me. Maybe she knew she'd survive, later in real life, three marriages and two bouts with breast cancer. In any case, she was mysterious and beautiful in Dark Shadows and still cool in later shows like The Rookies. Subsequently, she was summarily dismissed from Charlie's Angels for making fun of that show's inanity. Who can blame her? During the Reagan era, she starred in Scarecrow and Mrs. King, complete with secret marriage.

I would be remiss if I didn't also note the coolness factor of Jonathan Fird as Barnabas Collins -- he was the equivalent of a supernatural Tony Soprano. Also, David Selby (Quentin Collins) now appears in HBO's new series, Tell Me You Love Me.

Kate Jackson only turned 59 today! Well within the French Rule for social interaction . . . . .

On the other hand, it's nasty old Joseph Goebbels' birthday, too (1897-1945). Let's not forget the existence of real evil beings walking the earth. His wife Magda probably enjoyed shooting him outside the Führerbunker in Berlin as the Russians closed in on May 1, 1945 -- at least at that moment before she killed herself. Here's a translated sample of Goebbels on the importance of propaganda, from Nuremberg, 1934, eleven years earlier during the springtime of The Third Reich:

Each situation brings new challenges. And each task requires the support of the people, which can only be gained by untiring propaganda that brings the broad masses knowledge and clarity. No area of public life can do without it. It is the never resting force behind public opinion. It must maintain an unbroken relationship between leadership and people. Every means of technology must be put in its service; the goal is to form the mass will and to give it meaning, purpose, and goals that will enable us to learn from past failures and mistakes and ensure that the lead National Socialist strength has given us over other nations will never again be lost.

It may be good to have power based on weapons. It is better and longer lasting, however, to win and hold the heart of a people.

Change "National Socialist" to "American" and you have a contemporary speech written for G.W. Bush or Dick Cheney.

Goebbels was known by detractors as "The Poison Dwarf." He had a gimp leg and stood only slightly taller than a midget or a dwarf. An unsavory looking character, regardless of his height.

Mercifully, I'll end not with Herr Goebbels but with Ivana Miličević of Sarajevo, Yugoslavia and Troy, Michigan -- Angelique in the fledgling 2004 version of Dark Shadows.

Today's Rune: Strength.


Bubs said...

I remember watching Dark Shadows as a kid, and it seemed so...out there. I never realized Kate Jackson was in it.

I had a book titled "Barnabas Collins in a Funny Vein" that I got from the bookmobile in 3rd grade, that was a collection of bad puns and jokes.

Thanks for the memories.

J. Goebbels said...

We could've won with Soprano instead of Il Duce.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've watched some episodes of Dark Shadows and enjoyed it. I didn't realize Kate jackson was in it, though. My parents wouldn't let me watch this when I was little so I never saw it till later.

Johnny Yen said...

I tried to watch Dark Shadows twice as a kid and was so scared both times, I gave up on it. I never realized that Kate Jackson was in it. Maybe I'd have hung in there a little longer if I'd have known...

Beth said...

Man, I loved Dark Shadows! I have an acquaintance who travels around to the fanfests; she gets all dolled up in DS getups.

Anonymous said...

HI Eric,

Hey, i was surfing the web and came across you stuff on Dark Shadows and, especially, the Kate Jackson character Daphne. I was a huge fan of both. I'm a performer/guitarist/songwriter and I wrote this song about Kate Jackson's old DS character Daphne and posted this video of it on YouTube: I hope you won't mind me sending you a link to it. Dark Shadows -- especially some of the particular plot-lines and characters -- is kind of a specialized topic these days so when I find a fan who knows the show, I always try to send them this video. My group performs this song quite often, and usually there are some people in the crowd who remember the show, though not always KJ's character Daphhe.

BTW, I also noticed you were from Detroit. I was raised in Union Lake, Michigan and was a Michigander until we moved to Georgia.

I'd love to have you rate and/or comment on my YouTube video if you get a chance. Contact me anytime at