In a Manhattan television studio, a soap within a soap is playing out behind the scenes of a Gothic daytime drama. With tension rising, a troubled actor in a desperate moment lashes out with a burst of violence that may signal his downfall…
Dan Curtis is not in the control room with Lela Swift for the taping of today’s episode, having undoubtedly heard enough of her complaining about the male middle-aged members of the supporting cast. As the taping of episode 18 was concluding, Lela had indicated that she was anxiously anticipating the taping of episode 19 because she intended to “really give it to that Mark Allen character,” so it’s not surprising that Dan took a pass on observing the episode taping this time from the control room.
As the taping for episode 19 gets underway, Lela has instead seated beside her in the control room David Henesy, the nine-year-old actor who plays David Collins. David isn’t in today’s episode, nor does he even need to be in the studio today at all, because he is scheduled next to appear in episode 23, so he wouldn’t need to be around for the two-and-a-half-hour dry rehearsal for episode 20, which would begin a half hour after the taping of episode 19 wraps up. In an interview he gave for Kathryn Leigh Scott that was included in the 35th anniversary edition of Dark Shadows Memories, he said “…I was constantly on the move, hanging out in the control room…” One could understand why a television control room as an episode was being taped would be a fun place to hang out for a nine-year-old actor. Plus the fact that because he didn’t have to attend school on a normal schedule like other kids his age, a television studio control room might be a fun place to hang out even on a day off.
There’s something in the beginning of the taping for this episode to indicate that all may not be well with David Henesy. As mentioned in previous posts, there is in many of these broadcasts something that has been referred to as “bleeding audio” or “hidden audio,” where other voices appear to “leak” into the taped broadcast, voices that are not of the actors in the episode scenes being taped. As it turns out, most of this is talking coming through the control room microphone, mostly from Lela Swift who directs the episode taping from the control room where she can observe the action through the banks of video screens there and listen for the audio picked up by the studio boom mic. Just as the boom mic picks up peripheral sounds from the production area just off stage from where a scene is being taped, like a crew member speaking or coughing or technical equipment moving or something clattering to the studio floor, it also picks up whatever is being said through the control room microphone, which can be heard clearly by cast and crew throughout the studio. Mostly, the directorial instructions or other conversations coming through the control room microphone will require headphones and a decent sound system to be heard by the viewer watching on DVD, but what is heard from somewhere off stage from 2:36 to 2:38 does not require headphones to be heard: “Oh! Let me go!”
It is unmistakably the voice of David Henesy. Elsewhere in his early 2000s interview for the Dark Shadows Memories 35th anniversary edition book, he tells of other things he would do in the television studio, occasional mischief like “…sneaking a smoke in Joan Bennett’s dressing room when she was off…” and also in various other dressing rooms. He was once even chastised by Lela Swift one afternoon for napping in a coffin, during the later Barnabas era. So it might not be unreasonable to assume that early on in the taping for this episode, a crew member had caught him smoking in one of the dressing rooms and grabbed him to pull him out. But why would they do that? In that same early 2000s interview, Henesy talks about the sense of independence and complete lack of supervision surrounding his days as a child actor in the Dark Shadows television studio:
“…I was made to feel like a ‘pro’ and at the same time cared for and befriended… But I was left to my own devices. No supervision at all. In those days there were fewer child labor laws in New York. There were no tutors on the set. I came and went to the studio on my own, riding the number 7 or number 11 bus. Sometimes I’d ride my bicycle to the studio. I ordered my own lunch from the coffee shop around the corner, or didn’t, if I didn’t want to eat. Sometimes I’d just order a milk shake or two. It was very cool to be so independent at such a young age.” (“A Conversation with David Henesy” [Kathryn Leigh Scott], p. 84, 35th Anniversary Dark Shadows Memories)
So it couldn’t be getting caught smoking in someone’s dressing room by a crew member that would make David Henesy cry out “Oh! Let me go!” A closer examination of the peripheral audio lurking beneath the top layer of the action taking place on the sets for the main soundstage of the television studio reveals a darker, more disturbing scenario being played out….
In the teaser for episode 19, as Elizabeth Stoddard descends the foyer staircase at Collinwood and the opening narration concludes, director Lela Swift lets David Henesy in on a choice tidbit of gossip involving a fellow cast member.
Lela Swift: The sexual predator on Dark Shadows, David, is Mark Allen.
David Henesy [exclamatory]: Mark Allen? Really? How do you know?
Lela: Two of the actresses have serious complaints about him. Alexandra Moltke and Kathryn Leigh Scott both complained of him inappropriately touching them.
David: But why isn’t he fired? You can’t keep a sexual predator on Dark Shadows.
Lela: I’m trying, David, but it isn’t that easy. Dan likes him as an actor.
David: I have an idea. I’ll be right back.
When the scene shifts to Bill Malloy talking to Liz Stoddard from a pay phone in the lobby of the Collinsport Inn you here from off stage the “phhhwhhoooshhh” sound of the control room door being opened, then footsteps running across the studio floor with a light quickness that could only be those of David Henesy, after which you hear him with an excited and purposeful tone asking one of the crew members for a pen and asking something about Mark Allen’s dressing room. Then after Liz hangs up the phone in the drawing room and is pacing toward the doorway for the foyer, where she broods for a long moment over her daughter Carolyn, you hear the following:
Mark Allen: What is that sound? Is that writing on my door? Oh now, David, what’re you doing here?
David Henesy: Oh! Let me go! You’re a sexual predator!
Mark: Who’s a sexual predator? Who’s been spreading around nasty rumors like that about me?
David: Everyone! And Lela knows. And you’re getting fired!… Ow! Don’t you hit me like that!
As the waves intro begins and the opening theme plays, the voice of Mark Allen can be detected by the boom mic:
[Waves]: Mark Allen: Nobody calls me a sexual predator and gets away with it. Now you better stay right where you are. I have to go do a scene. We’ll have this out when I’m through. Now don’t you run away.
After the commercial break, as Act I begins, showing the exterior shot for the Blue Whale and then as Bill Malloy enters to find Sam Evans drinking at the bar, the following is heard from off stage and then the control room:
David: No sexual predator gets away with hitting me like that. I’ll get even with you, Mark Allen. All I have to do is tell Lela what you did… Lela!
Lela: Oh my god, David, what happened to your face? It’s all red, like a lobster.
David: Mark Allen hit me across the face. I called him a sexual predator. I was writing it on his door when he caught me. He told me not to run away. After his scene, he says we’re going to have it out.
Lela: Mark Allen did this to you, and he still wants to keep threatening you? We have to get rid of him, and fast.
David: Lela, I think I need to get home.
Lela: Not yet, David. I need your help.
David: How can I help?
Lela: I want you to tell me one more time exactly what he did…
Of course, while discussing with David Henesy the issue of Mark Allen’s volatile off-stage behavior Lela Swift is still directing the episode, and an amusing moment happens when the bartender brings a round of drinks over to the table where Sam Evans and Bill Malloy have been discussing Roger’s car accident. The bartender is played by Bob O’Connell in a recurring uncredited and mostly nonspeaking role. Bill is away making a phone call, and Sam tells the bartender to put these drinks on his tab. As the bartender takes away the empty glasses, he can be heard to reply “Yeah.”
Lela: Bartender wasn’t supposed to speak… Don’t you mock me, Bob O’Connell! I’ll have you fired!… He’s laughing. That’s another one I can’t stand. His trousers ride up something awful.
David: Lela, what about Mark Allen?
About Mark Allen, Lela observes that he’s getting good in this, that is, in his role as Sam Evans. She had been criticizing him constantly from his third episode (episode 11) about messing up all his lines and not being right in the role of Sam Evans, and now she is noting an improvement, despite all the tension that surrounds him.
A curious thing happens as the scene at the Blue Whale with Sam and Bill ends, something that may seal Mark Allen’s fate as an actor on Dark Shadows, if he hasn’t managed to do this already. Sam says he has to get over to the restaurant and pick up his daughter Maggie, and on his way toward the door he says goodbye to the bartender, “See yuh, buddy.” Then as he’s mounting the steps and getting out the door, Mark Allen says to himself in an angry whisper, “Fuck David Henesy, that little rat!” Lela comments on this a moment later as the scene switches to the hotel restaurant.
Lela: Oh! He just said your name. The boom mic picked it up. He called you a little rat. He said “Fuck David Henesy, that little rat”… “Fuck David Henesy”… That proves Mark Allen has an issue with you.
David: I wouldn’t lie about that.
Lela: I know you wouldn’t, David. But now we have proof. All you need to do is go to Dan about it.
David: Lela, if I stay here, Mark Allen will get me!
Lela: If he lays another hand on you, you just tell me.
David: But Lela, I don’t want to face him again. Mark Allen’s huge. He’ll kill me!
Lela: Now, David, don’t worry. We’ll protect you.
David: Thanks, but I have to get out of here, and get home while he’s still in his scenes.
Lela: Alright, David. We’ll get back to you.
If David Henesy had been living a normal life like other nine-year-olds, he would have been in school, perhaps in the third or fourth grade. Even if he found himself in a threatening situation with a fellow classmate, at least it would be with someone his own age with not such a terribly huge difference in size. But the aggressor in this case is a man in his forties, somewhere in the vicinity of six foot five, two hundred who knows how many pounds, and with arms like tree trunks. Instead of “you die after class,” it’s “you die after scenes.” Just one all too real example of how strange and frightening the plight of a child actor could be, especially when you’re the only child in a microcosm of adults where the nearest colleague to you in age is Alexandra Moltke, at twenty.
As Joe brings Carolyn back to Collinwood and they enter the foyer, Lela Swift makes another observation on Mark Allen.
Lela: He’s actually improving in his scenes, even with all this tension around him. That’s ironic… Alex! Alexandra Moltke just walked past the control room. Have her come in here. She has a scene with Mark Allen in episode 20. I want to tell her what he did to David Henesy… Alex, Mark Allen smacked David right across the face…
[scene fades out]
[scene fades in]
Alexandra Moltke: How could he do something like that to a child? Mark Allen must be somewhere around six foot five. How badly was David hurt?
Lela: Well, to look at his face, you’d think he became a lobster. He’s gone home and says he won’t come back until Mark Allen is off the show. We have to get him back, and soon!
Alexandra: That’s right! What good is the role of a governess without a kid to tutor?
Lela: Alex, I have an idea. I’ll see if I can get tomorrow’s scene you have with him cut from the script. We’ll sabotage him off the show. I’ll call the production assistant. Harriet will know what to do… Hello, Harriet? There’s a scene in tomorrow’s episode with Mark Allen and Alexandra Moltke I want to get cut… The script is final? [to Alexandra] I can’t get the scene cut, Alex, the script is final… I have an idea. I’ll have someone bring your script into the scene. That way you won’t have to read with him.
Alexandra: I’ll be glad to keep away from him as much as possible.
Lela: He’s been improving in his scenes lately. He’s really a pretty talented actor. But we’ll see how good he is in his scenes without any rehearsal time. We’ll sabotage him off the show that way.
Alexandra: Well, if that’ll work, I’m with you.
Lela: Don’t worry, Alex. We’ll keep him away from you from now on.
Will they get David Henesy back on the show in time for his next episode? What would Alexandra Moltke as Victoria Winters do as a governess with no one to tutor? Will Mark Allen be able to keep his improving performances as Sam Evans from being sabotaged? Will someone finally fix that missing button on his shirt? For the answers to these questions and many more, tune in to the next episode of… The Perils of Mark Allen.
Key players in today’s behind the scenes soap within a soap, The Perils of Mark Allen.
Lela Swift directing Alexandra Moltke in rehearsal on June 12, 1966, the day before the taping of episode 1.
David Henesy as David Collins in episode 15.
Alexandra Moltke as Victoria Winters in episode 4.
Elizabeth can’t sleep from worrying about Carolyn, who hasn’t returned home after leaving the Blue Whale with Burke Devlin.
Bill Malloy asks Sam Evans if he’s seen Carolyn or Burke.
Joe and Carolyn quarrel over Burke at the hotel restaurant.
Bill Malloy and Sam Evans at the Blue Whale.
Joe and Carolyn at the Collinsport Inn restaurant.
“What do you want me to say? That I’m sorry?”
Sam spots Carolyn at the restaurant.
Bill phones Elizabeth to tell her that Carolyn is on her way home.
Sam wishes Burke had never come back to Collinsport.
“Joe, I’m sorry about tonight. You’re a great guy.”
Roger is not in the house and the convertible is gone from the garage.
Elizabeth tells Carolyn about Burke’s past manslaughter conviction and threats of revenge against the family.
Carolyn: All I did was suggest we go to the Blue Whale and have a few laughs, and look at you. You’d think it was the end of the world.
Joe: Well maybe it is, Carolyn. Maybe it is.
Sam: I took the liberty of ordering another drink, on me this time… Uh, did you make your phone call?
Sam: Any news?
Bill: Oh you’re snoopin’ again, Sam.
Sam: Uh yuh.
Bill: Well don’t.
Sam: Now look, I bought you a beer. That entitles me to something.
Bill: Ayup. Fifteen cents.
Sam: Now listen, Bill. Enough is enough. I happen to know that Carolyn Stoddard took Burke Devlin over to the big house earlier this evening.
Bill: You have change for a quarter?
Joe: They’re short-handed, Maggie went home sick. I think this is the rare one.
Carolyn: Thank you.
Joe: Carolyn, I love you. You know that. But I just can’t go on playing this game with you.
Carolyn: I never thought you’d get so angry about it.
Joe: If it isn’t Burke Devlin, it’s somebody else, anybody. It always seems to happen when I talk about getting married.
Carolyn: That has nothing to… That has nothing to do with it.
Joe: Then what does? Now Carolyn, when you insisted that we go to the Blue Whale tonight you knew Burke would be there, didn’t you?
Joe: Sweetheart, I just, I can’t keep on being good old Joe, hanging around the sidelines waiting for you to come bounding back to me. I’ve got a little too much pride for that.
Carolyn: Could you bring me a cup of coffee?
Joe: Is that all you have to say?
Carolyn: What do you want me to say? That I’m sorry? Well maybe I am sorry if I hurt your pride. But I have to live my life my own way.
Joe: I’ll get the coffee.
Sam: Bill, about that accident.
Bill: Oh no, no more about that.
Sam: No no, I want to explain. I know I seemed pretty upset over at the bar, and I’m sure you wondered why.
Bill: No, not all. I just figured you thought Burke fooled with Roger’s car and that he’d be comin’ after you next.
Sam: Why do you say that?
Bill: Now, take it easy Sam. I was only kiddin’.
Sam: Why would Burke want to hurt me? Why would anybody want to hurt me?
Bill: Look, it was only a joke.
Sam: Well it wasn’t very funny!
Bill: Well, Sam, I’m sorry, believe me, I’m really sorry, very sorry.
Carolyn: Joe, I’m sorry about tonight. You’re a great guy.
Joe: Just try to remember that tomorrow.
As the slating segment begins at the top of the episode, ABC announcer Bob Lloyd is practicing a commercial voice-over, which provides a clue to one of the show’s sponsors for that week: “…by Vanish, the new disinfectant toilet bowl cleaner. Another work saver from Dracket.”
For the scene at the Blue Whale in Act I, there is the sound effect of a fog horn. At the beginning of the scene, as an exterior shot representing the Blue Whale is shown, the sound effect of a clanging ship’s bell is heard.
Exterior shots and footage for the Blue Whale are from the Black Pearl, a restaurant on the waterfront at Bannister’s Wharf in Newport, Rhode Island.
In Act I, when Sam Evans says to Bill Malloy, “Hey, Bill, did you know that in London they drink warm beer? Warm beer,” this is Art Wallace referencing his original story which he based Dark Shadows on, The House, a teleplay that was first shown on the weekly anthology TV series The Web in 1954 (August 29). A print survives and at the 50th anniversary Dark Shadows Festival in Tarrytown, New York, it was given its first showing in over six decades. The comment about “warm beer” was what Walt Cummins (the prototype for the Jason McGuire character on Dark Shadows) says to the bartender as he arrives in a small New England town to look up the reclusive matriarch of a big house by the sea, Elizabeth Stallworth. A YouTube clip for the full episode as shown at the 2016 Dark Shadows Festival is provided below (uploader: Barnabasbytes).
In 1966, a glass of beer at the Blue Whale costs fifteen cents.
Not necessarily a blooper, but the cash register is missing from the Collinsport Inn restaurant. In episodes 1 and 3, the first two to feature the restaurant, there was no cash register; one was first installed in episode 7. In the image below, it should be at the edge of the counter by the door (next to the glass pie stand). In this episode, Kathryn Leigh Scott does not appear. The explanation in the script is that Maggie wasn’t feeling well and had to leave work early. Maybe she took the cash register home with her.
Daily studio schedule for Dark Shadows in 1966
7:00-11:00 a.m. Lighting
8:30-10:30 Morning Rehearsal
11:00-12:00 Engineering Set-Up
11:30-2:00 Camera Blocking & Run Through
2:00-2:30 Dress Rehearsal
2:30-3:00 Test Pattern
3:00-3:30 Episode Taping
3:45-4:15 Technical Meeting
4:00-6:30 Dry Rehearsal for Next Episode
4:00-7:00 Reset Studio
At the Blue Whale, when Sam Evans steps away from the bar to join Bill Malloy at a nearby table, the teleprompter is shown being wheeled away (rectangular light, middle right edge of screen).
When Joe brings Carolyn back to Collinwood, the shadow of a boom mic is seen in the foyer, against the closed drawing room doors.
In the drawing room, Mrs. Stoddard says to Joe, “Believe me, Joe, you don’t know how important this can be, can be.”
The end credits has “Ohrbach’s” spelled as “Orhbach’s.”
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
Sam is drinking a whiskey at the bar in the Blue Whale…
…when Bill invites him to a table and buys him another drink. Bill has a beer.
When Bill steps away from the table to make a phone call, Sam orders himself another drink and puts a beer for Bill on his own tab this time.
Because they are short-handed at the restaurant, Joe brings hamburgers to their table, with a rare one for Carolyn. Each hamburger has a pickle spear on the side.
Joe lifts the top bun and sprinkles salt onto his hamburger.
In addition to hamburgers, Joe and Carolyn have coffee at the restaurant, but this is only mentioned in the script and not shown onscreen.
Bill Malloy buys Sam Evans a cup of coffee at the Collinsport Inn restaurant.
From the page I created for Dark Shadows Wiki:
Dark Passages is a novel written by Kathryn Leigh Scott and published in 2011 by Pomegranate Press, Ltd.
Set in the 1960s, Meg Harrison leaves her native Minnesota for New York to pursue a career in acting while working as a Playboy Bunny in New York’s Playboy Club. After changing her name to Morgana Harriott, she soon lands the role of Margie, a restaurant waitress and daughter of a local artist, in the new daytime TV serial Dark Passages. The show will eventually feature a vampire, but the catch is that Morgana is one in real life.
The characters described on the sets of Dark Passages resemble quite vividly those on Dark Shadows and the actors who played them. The diner set where Margie works is greatly similar to that of the Collinsport Inn restaurant on Dark Shadows.
For the back cover, Jonathan Frid wrote the following blurb: “Reading DARK PASSAGES was like being back on the sets of DARK SHADOWS, except with real vampires behind the scenes!”
In this eight-CD box set of composer Robert Cobert’s series soundtrack, every music cue used on Dark Shadows is available, including the full-length original recordings of the guitar instrumentals heard at the Blue Whale.
Since 2006, UK production company Big Finish has been extending the Dark Shadows legacy with audio dramas offering new stories featuring cast members from the original TV series. My favorite is the 2015 audio drama …And Red All Over, in which Mitchell Ryan reprises his role as Burke Devlin to the backdrop of an eerily compelling backstory on how he came to acquire his wealth in business. Also starring Kathryn Leigh Scott as Maggie Evans, with original series themes and music cues composed by Robert Cobert. A must listen for any fan of the first year of Dark Shadows.
Coming next: Episode 20: Out of His Mind: The Perils of Mark Allen Continues
— Marc Masse
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from the Beginning. All rights reserved.
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