EXPIRED: 11/06/09 – Ron Sproat, 77, created the best TV vampire before all this teen vampire nonsense with “True Blood” and “Twilight.” Sproat created the reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins for the 1960’s daytime soap opera, “Dark Shadows.”
Sproat wrote for “Dark Shadows” starting at the series’ creation in 1966 and continuing for 3 years.
He graduated from Hamilton College, the University of Michigan and the Yale School of Drama. After college, he began his career in TV, writing for the anthology series “United States Steel Hour” and “General Motors Presents.” He later worked on TV shows such as “Love of Life,” “The Secret Storm,” “The Doctors,” “Where the Heart Is” and “Strange Paradise.” He also contributed articles to New York magazine and Paris Match.
But he’ll best be known for bring a new life – or death, as the case may be – to the boring world of daytime dramas.
Dark Shadows ran on ABC from 1966 to ’71, and was dying before Canadian actor, Jonathan Frid, flew in as a 175-year-old anti-hero. The character was only supposed to stick around for 13 weeks. Instead, the hypnotic magnetism of Barnabas made “Dark Shadows” one of the most popular shows on daytime television. Playing in the afternoons, and filled with parallel universes, witches, zombies and werewolves, “Dark Shadows” was a must-see for bored teens.
For those of us of a certain age, other vampires paled when compared to Barnabas. Critics dismissed “Dark Shadows” as campy, but that was the point. Fans — who gather still for “Dark Shadows” conventions — recognized Barnabas as a figure with heart, if unbeating.
Too bad that Sproat will not get to see his creation return from the dead as Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are collaborating on a movie version of “Dark Shadows” in the coming year.