Not many realize it, but Dark Shadows very nearly imploded before it could even complete five weeks of its initial thirteen-week cycle.
Mark Allen, originator of the role of Sam Evans, a minor but essential character, has become a huge liability. He has made unwanted, inappropriate sexual advances during rehearsal toward two of the actresses. During the taping of episode 19, he assaulted child actor David Henesy in the dressing room area after catching the nine-year-old trying to write a nasty accusation on his dressing room door.
David Henesy has since walked off the show, and refuses to return until Mark Allen is off the show.
To the credit of Dan Curtis, series creator and executive producer, no one has complained directly to him about any of the actions said to have been perpetrated by Mark Allen. He has only heard of these allegations through an intermediary, his episode director Lela Swift. Technically it’s only hearsay, until one of the accusers makes a case to him directly and in person.
There are financial constraints to think of. Back in episode 16, Lela shamed George Mitchell (originator of the Matthew Morgan role) off the show and tried to do as much during the taping of episode 17 to Fred Stewart (who debuted as Collins family physician Dr. Reeves). Breaking contract with George Mitchell means that Dan has to pay Mitchell for an additional seven episodes guaranteed by his contract for the first thirteen weeks. If he breaks contract by firing Mark Allen, then he’ll have to pay for another ten episodes. Most likely, he would have to pay for these broken contracts out of his own pocket, since the limited weekly budget for daytime programming doesn’t cover such unforeseen expenses.
But David Henesy isn’t under contract. According to David Henesy from an interview given for the thirty-fifth anniversary of Dark Shadows, “…I had not even signed a contract at the time. After my reading, I was ‘booked’ [hired],…” (35th Anniversary Dark Shadows Memories, A Conversation with David Henesy, p. 84)
So Dan Curtis has to make a decision: fire Mark Allen to get David Henesy back, or keep Mark Allen on and risk losing Dark Shadows. You could always get another David Collins, but where on earth are you going to find another David Henesy?
At the beginning of episode 21, as the scene with Vicki and Carolyn plays out in the Collinwood kitchen, Lela Swift is having a conversation in the control room with Dan Curtis about the incident involving Mark Allen that took place in an actress’ dressing room during the taping of episode 20. The event in question has been percolating all weekend in Lela’s already fevered imagination.
Lela Swift: Dan, I have to tell you about that thing Mark Allen did in Alexandra’s dressing room on Friday.
Dan Curtis: You already told me about it. But Alexandra didn’t, so I can’t do anything about it.
Lela: It’s not that, Dan. I’ve been thinking about it all weekend, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I don’t know… Alexandra is so sexy! I can understand why he’d want to do what he said he wanted to. That dressing room incident really triggered something in me.
Dan: Oh, Lela! Will you stop ogling her over the control room microphone?
Lela: I can’t help it. I keep thinking about it.
From somewhere off stage, Mark Allen can be heard reacting. He is either talking with a crew member or thinking aloud to himself, the way he did when making the decision to go into Alexandra Moltke’s dressing room during the taping of episode 20. He would be in the studio as episode 21 tapes because rehearsal for episode 22, which he is in, begins soon after taping. Lela may be able to keep him away from the female actors in rehearsal, but for the next episode he has scenes with Louis Edmonds and Mitchell Ryan.
Mark Allen: Oh, wait a minute. I’ve sexualized Lela to Alexandra Moltke. That’s interesting. I didn’t realize we were so much alike. You know, I’m beginning to like Lela.
Over the waves intro, Lela meditates further on the Mark Allen incident from Friday.
Lela: That thing Mark Allen did. I understand his sex drive. I don’t approve of him. He’s a sexual predator. But that thing he did triggered something in me I didn’t even know I had.
At the start of Act I, Mark Allen can be heard reacting to what Lela has been saying over the control room microphone.
Mark: Did you hear that? Lela thinks she understands my sex drive. Maybe I can still save this thing… I’ll have to apologize to David… I guess I shouldn’t have done that.
He is referring to the incident outside his dressing room door that transpired between him and David Henesy in episode 19.
Meanwhile, there are other matters for Dan Curtis and Lela Swift to discuss, like in Act I in Burke’s hotel room the way Mitch Ryan is drinking from an obviously empty coffee cup instead of actual coffee as done so often on the show.
Dan: What do you think of that, Lela? That’s what your rat poison got us. Mitch refuses to drink real coffee because you put rat poison in Mark Allen’s tea during the taping of episode 20.
Lela: But Mitch isn’t a sexual predator. I’d never do anything to him.
Dan: Well, I hope you mean that. Otherwise no one’s going to drink anything on this show again. So much for realism, with all these empty cups around.
Lela: Dan, I promised you I wouldn’t do it again.
Dan: Alright, that’s okay. I’ll just have to take your word for it. I just hope the actors will.
Lela: Dan, there’s something else I have to talk to you about…
That something else involves the issue of getting David Henesy back on the show, who walked after being assaulted by Mark Allen during the taping of episode 19. Lela is pushing Dan for a decision and it goes right down to the wire, right to the last moments of the final scene in the taping of episode 21.
Lela: For Christ sakes, Dan! You have to make a decision about Mark Allen! We need David Henesy back for episode 23, and we start rehearsing for that episode tomorrow after we finish taping episode 22.
Dan: Jesus Christ. You’ve really put me on the spot. I don’t know what I’m going to do about Mark Allen… Well, I don’t want to lose David Henesy. It’d sink the whole show… Alright, I’ll fire him after tomorrow’s episode.
Lela: Dan, that’s the best decision you ever made!
From somewhere nearby Mark Allen can be heard reacting to the news that has just come through the control room microphone.
Mark: Oh no! I’m fired? I can’t let that happen. It’ll ruin my whole portfolio.
Over the end credits, Dan and Lela continue their conversation as they so often do.
Dan: Alright, Lela, Mark Allen’s gone after episode 22. Are you happy now?
Lela: I’ve been waiting two weeks for you to fire Mark Allen, but you’re only doing it to get David Henesy back on the show.
Dan: Lela, this is going to cost me a fortune to break contract with Mark Allen.
Lela: Well I don’t care. Mark Allen thinks his portfolio is ruined. Well, I’m going to spread the word around.
That was the taping of episode 21. With the taping of episode 22 kicking off, Lela is positively jubilant as she speaks through the control room microphone during the waves intro.
Lela: I’ve been waiting two weeks for the end of Mark Allen on Dark Shadows. He thinks his portfolio’s ruined, does he? Well, so long to his career, too. I’m spreading the word around. No more choice roles. This calls for a celebration…
But there are other things on Lela’s mind as well. During Act I with Maggie and Burke at the Evans cottage, Lela raises an issue with Dan about the change made to the end credits for director.
Lela: Say, Dan, why did you change the credit for director for episode 21 to John Sedwick? John Sedwick is an associate director.
Dan: Just in case you do something crazy, Lela. I don’t want you to get blamed.
Lela: Dan, I want you to change the director credit back to me. I’m directing Dark Shadows!
Dan: That could take time, Lela. I have to depend on you to behave yourself.
Lela: I will behave myself! Once Mark Allen’s gone, I’ll be on my very best behavior, you’ll see.
Dan: We’ll see, Lela.
Lela: Goddammit, Dan. I’m directing Dark Shadows…
During this discussion, the scene switches to the Collinsport Inn restaurant, where a new character on the show, a waitress named Susie, is pouring a cup of coffee at the table of Roger Collins. Usually, Maggie Evans is the waitress at the restaurant, but today her scenes are at the Evans cottage; so whenever Maggie is needed elsewhere, Susie is brought in as a backup if there will also be scenes in a given episode at the restaurant.
Today Lela has something to bring to Dan’s attention about yet another incident involving Mark Allen with yet another actress. No details are given, only that the actress has complained. If Mark Allen is worried that losing this job might ruin his whole career and is intent on saving himself on Dark Shadows, he’s being rather reckless about it.
Lela: …By the way, “Susie” has a complaint about Mark Allen.
Dan: I’m aware of Susie’s complaint. She told me about it, and I assured her he’ll be gone after this episode. I’m glad actresses are finally starting to trust me.
Lela: That’s because they know you’ll do right by them.
Dan: If they come to me directly, sure. I’ve had more than I can take from this guy. He really is what you said he is.
So it’s a bit ironic that Lela felt she had to go to all that trouble in trying to get Mark Allen off the show, when all it would have taken was a day player, an actress who’s an uncredited extra in a nonspeaking role, going directly to Dan Curtis about it. It appears Mark Allen would have been gone from Dark Shadows following episode 22 regardless.
Nevertheless, Dan cannot help but express admiration for Mark Allen’s talent as an actor, as he gives yet another letter perfect reading in his scene at the restaurant with Louis Edmonds.
Dan: He’s still a really good actor. He’s really great in this. I’ll actually kind of miss him.
Lela: Well David Henesy won’t miss him, or Alexandra Moltke and Kathryn Leigh Scott.
Despite this, Lela as well has to admit an appreciation for Mark Allen’s acting later in the episode just as his scene with Mitch Ryan at the Evans cottage is ending, with Burke describing for Sam the kind of portrait he wants done for him.
Lela: You know, he really could have worked out in this, if he hadn’t been such a crazy sexual degenerate.
The scene shifts to the Collinwood drawing room as Dan Curtis seems to think he can see through Lela’s venerating comment.
Dan: Oh, Lela, you’re just saying that ‘cause you’re happy he’s leaving the show.
Lela: No, I mean it. His acting today is really top notch. We could have probably worked something out, if he hadn’t assaulted David Henesy.
Over the end credits, it’s Dan Curtis and Mark Allen, after Dan has given the official word of his firing from the show.
Mark: Well, Dan, of course I hit David Henesy. He was in the process of writing something really nasty on my dressing room door. Now what was I supposed to do, let him get away with calling me nasty names?
Dan: Which turned out to be true, from what I heard.
Mark: But Dan, can’t you fix it so I can stay on? Lela’s been saying really good things about my acting these last three episodes.
Dan: Can’t do it. Too many issues with you.
Mark: Well Dan, you still have to pay me for [another] ten episodes. My contract guarantees it.
Dan: You’ll be paid. Now, just get outta here, alright?
Mark: I wish I never came on this show!
Dan: So do I…
And so the behind the scenes soap within a soap The Perils of Mark Allen concludes. Dark Shadows is saved, for now.
Burke informs Maggie that Roger’s accident is said to really have been attempted murder.
Maggie is curious about whether the Collins family will call the police.
Sam notices Roger in the Collinsport Inn restaurant.
Roger tells Sam about his confrontation with Burke about the accident.
“Hello Sam. We were just talking about you.”
“She says she thinks I have a grudge against you.”
“You have no right to spread my history right in front of Burke.”
Burke tells Sam that his portrait should be something like the ones at Collinwood…
…so that he can “fit it in” with the portraits they have in the drawing room.
Roger is expecting a call from the constable.
Maggie: Well don’t you think the Collins family will call the police?
Burke: Why are you so interested?
Maggie: Just curious, that’s all.
Burke: You always break chinaware when you’re curious?
Maggie: Burke, you’ve been away from this town for ten years. You forget what a hick joint it really is.
Sam: You got room for a hungry artist?
Roger: What do you want, Evans?
Sam: Peace, tranquility, a chance to sit down and talk. May I?
Roger: I’d rather you stayed away from me.
Roger: I threw it all in his face, Evans. I went up to his room and told him I knew what he had done. And he laughed.
Sam: Well then what happened?
Roger: I told him that right after he’d invited me to meet him in town he was seen in the garage standing by my car with a wrench in his hand.
Sam: Was that true?
Roger: You think I’d lie about it?
Sam: Yes. You might.
Maggie: I made a fresh pot of coffee.
Burke: Hey, I thought you’d skipped out the back door.
Maggie: Oh, I only run from enemies.
Burke: Are you sure I’m a friend?
Burke: What makes you think I have something against your father?
Maggie: I wasn’t talking about him.
Burke: Then who were you talking about, Maggie? You know, ever since I came into this room, you’ve been about to say something which you actually haven’t said.
Maggie: I guess I’m a jerk, that’s all.
Maggie: Pop, I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would upset you that much.
Sam: Oh, Maggie. Maggie, you’re such a fool. When a man comes to pry, you don’t unlock all the cupboards.
Carolyn: Are you really gonna have Burke Devlin arrested?
Roger: Not only arrested, but indicted, tried, and convicted. What do you think of that?
Carolyn: I’m not sure.
During the opening narration, location footage from Seaview Terrace in Newport, Rhode Island (representing the exterior of Collinwood)…
…dissolves to location footage of a house near the waterfront of Essex, Connecticut (representing the exterior of the Evans cottage), to lead into the opening scene which takes place at the Evans cottage.
As the opening scene begins, it is clear that Maggie is drinking from an empty coffee cup. This is not necessarily a blooper, but a convenience, because she is supposed to drop the cup on the floor as the scene concludes, just as Burke mentions that Roger’s car accident is said to have been attempted murder instead.
At the Evans cottage, there is the sound effect of a buzzer instead of a knock at the door as Burke pays a visit to the Evans cottage in the opening scene. A buzzer sound for the front door of the Evans cottage was also heard in episode 7 when Burke made an unannounced visit to see Sam.
Dark Shadows extras: First appearance of “Susie,” a waitress at the Collinsport Inn restaurant. Susie is known affectionately among Dark Shadows fans as “Silent Susie” because it is a nonspeaking role. Susie will be played by two different actresses in the first year of the show. In episode 22, Susie is played by Colleen Kelly.
Final episode with Mark Allen as Sam Evans, who played the role for seven episodes. In episode 35, the role of Sam Evans will be played by David Ford.
The usually reliable and authoritative Dark Shadows Wiki has John Sedwick erroneously listed as the director for this episode. Sedwick, who started out as an associate director on the show, directed numerous episodes of Dark Shadows between 1966 and 1968, but the first twenty-eight were directed by Lela Swift (Source: Dark Shadows: The First Year, 2006, Blue Whale Books, by Nina Johnson and O. Crock [summary writers], pp. 32-38). The Dark Shadows Wiki says that episode 24 “was mistakenly credited to Lela Swift.” The end credits for that episode indeed have it listed as directed by Lela Swift. So if there are mistakes made in the end credits for one episode, then there could indeed have been errors for a couple more, including episode 22. I’ll go with what’s listed in Dark Shadows: The First Year, since the people involved in that project had direct access to all the primary source materials including original scripts and other production documents, ABC network interdepartment correspondences, etc.
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
In previous episodes, there has been a phone booth in the lobby of Collinsport Inn. This episode shows that the restaurant has one as well.
In the opening scene, as Maggie invites Burke in, the camera goes out of focus.
In the opening scene, Maggie mentions to Burke that she was just reading a newspaper account about Roger’s car accident, which took place the night before. In episode 20, we found that the name of the town’s newspaper is The Collinsport Star, and in episode 7 we found that it is a weekly. In that episode, Maggie brings in a copy of the newly published weekly newspaper for Burke in the restaurant at Collinsport Inn, and even mentions that the ink is still wet. Roger’s accident took place that same day.
When about to describe the sort of portrait Burke wants Sam to do of him, he leaves the “s” off of “Collins” when he says, “As a matter of fact, you’ve been up to the Collin house, haven’t you?”
In the final scene, Sam leaves the “s” off of “Collinsport” when he says to Burke, “When you first came to Collinport, you said that you were gonna only stay a couple days.”
At the Evans cottage Burke comments on a portrait of Maggie’s mother, saying that she was very beautiful. Maggie wears her hair in a fashion similar to that of the woman in the portrait, as if it might have been based on a likeness of Kathryn Leigh Scott. The first name of Mrs. Sam Evans is never mentioned on the show.
The portrait in the Collinwood drawing room representing Collinsport founder Isaac Collins is in a different location for this episode only. It is not necessarily a blooper, but instead is done for convenience, with a scene dissolve shot of Burke describing for Sam what kind of a portrait that he wants done of him…
…and then Carolyn standing before the portrait taking a phone call from Joe Haskell.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
In Act I at the Evans cottage, Maggie brings a cup of coffee for Burke.
In Act II, Susie pours coffee for Roger at the Collinsport Inn restaurant.
After ordering a cup of coffee, Sam changes his order to include a couple of donuts and asks that they be brought over to Mr. Collins’ table.
At the Evans cottage, Maggie brings in a fresh pot of coffee.
In the final act, Roger pours himself a brandy in the drawing room at Collinwood while Carolyn talks of meeting with Joe Haskell for lunch.
Dark Shadows Cast Member Spotlight: Mark Allen
As featured below, in the years leading up to Dark Shadows, Mark Allen had quite a lot of good roles in television and film. Despite falling out of favor with cast and crew members of Dark Shadows, in earlier years he certainly lived up to Dan Curtis’ words as “one of the finest actors on television.”
As Tiny Truex in February Girl, an episode from Peter Gunn (season 1, episode 30; broadcast date: April 20, 1959).
As Sheriff Sam Hatcher in Reckless, an episode from the Steve McQueen TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive (season 2, episode 10; broadcast date: November 7, 1959).
As Grant Dolan (right) in No Chip, an episode from Gunsmoke (season 6, episode 12; broadcast date: December 3, 1960).
As Mr. Newsome’s assistant in The Man Who Found the Money, an episode from Alfred Hitchcock Presents (season 6, episode 13; broadcast date: December 27, 1960).
As Marshal Dex Harwood in the western movie The Gambler Wore a Gun (release date: May 5, 1961).
As the Policeman in Wally’s Chauffeur, an episode from Leave It to Beaver (season 5, episode 12; broadcast date: December 23, 1961).
As Clarence Brannon in A Fist of Five, an episode from The Untouchables (season 4, episode 10; broadcast date: December 4, 1962).
As Carl Manning (opposite a young Ryan O’Neal) in Stopover on the Way to the Moon, an episode from the TV western drama series Empire (season 1, episode 24; broadcast date: January 1, 1963).
From 1963 to 1964, Mark Allen appeared as Matt Kissel in 19 episodes of the TV western The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (shown below with the Osmond Brothers as the Kissel Brothers and Meg Wyllie as Mary Elizabeth Kissel).
As Larson in the G-rated movie Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (release date: July 15, 1965).
As the Blacksmith in the western movie A Big Hand for the Little Lady (release date: July 1, 1966).
Despite Lela vowing to “spread the word around,” Mark Allen’s next job in television was on the very same ABC network that same year, a role in an episode of The FBI, a show he would appear in a number of times over several years.
Yet, although there was more or less steady work in the decade after leaving Dark Shadows, Mark Allen didn’t seem to distinguish himself as he had in the years before. More often than not, his list of credits in the nine years following Dark Shadows read like this: Signalman, Wrecker, Trucker, Second Mate, Instructor, Security Guard, Dock Worker, Gate Guard, Contractor…
Lela Swift wasn’t the only one who might have spoken about Mark Allen’s erratic behavior while a cast member of Dark Shadows. There were other cast members as well as crew members who might have, in their professional travels, made mention of these things that were spoken of. What happened in that Manhattan television studio in July 1966 may not necessarily have stayed there.
Below is a list of some of the name roles Mark Allen landed in later years. One of these was something I was familiar with as a youngster, the short-lived 1971 TV series Bearcats. My father was a fan of vintage cars, so episodes of this show were always on at our house. I remember the night of the last episode, in the final days of 1971; I was five, and we were taking the decorations off the Christmas tree. My father said to me, “You know, this is the last time Bearcats will be on.” I replied, “I know.” I should have said, “I noticed.”
As Warden Sims in Assault on San Saba, an episode of Bearcats (season 1, episode 8; broadcast date: November 11, 1971).
But Mark Allen gets shot down early on…
…just like on Dark Shadows.
As Lothar Johnson in Canyon of No Return, an episode of The FBI (season 8, episode 11; broadcast date: November 26, 1972).
As Barnes in The Witness, an episode from the western TV series Bonanza (season 14, episode 13; broadcast date: January 2, 1973).
As Mr. Cramer in Race Against Time, Part 1, an episode of the crime drama TV series Mannix (season 7, episode 14; broadcast date: January 6, 1974).
Final appearance in film, as the 3rd Detective in the Philip Marlowe film noir Farewell, My Lovely (release date: August 8, 1975).
Final appearance on television, as Officer Ferguson in the crime drama TV series Cannon (season 5, episode 7; broadcast date: October 22, 1975).
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 23: Doing a Little Digging
— Marc Masse
© 2017 Marc Masse and Dark Shadows
from the Beginning. All rights reserved.
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