Episode 25: People Management

People management GIF_ep25

 

Victoria Winters is searching for her past. Having been raised in a foundling home in New York, she has taken a job hundreds of miles away in Collinsport, Maine, as a companion and governess to a nine-year-old boy only because of the anonymous letters that would arrive each month at the foundling home containing fifty dollars in cash for her care beginning when she was two years old. Because the postmark on the envelopes was from Bangor, only fifty miles away from Collinsport, now eighteen years later she thinks that by taking on this position she might find out something about her mysterious past, something more than the surname she was given because of the season of the year she was left on the front steps of the foundling home in a cardboard box, with only a ten-word note and a first name.

 

Two days after having stepped off the train in Collinsport, a letter sent special delivery has arrived from the foundling home detailing a visit they received from a private investigator wondering why she was hired to work for the Collins family and by whom.

 

No one wants to know the answers to these questions more than Victoria Winters herself, but to her dismay none of the people around her care to even discuss the matter. The only interest in her letter comes from someone who has no reason to be even remotely curious – the young boy she tutors.

 

 

It’s a Friday episode, so the show will be serving up something to move at least one of the current storylines forward – either the clues to Victoria’s past or young David and the attempted murder of his father Roger.

 

As an added bonus, today’s episode provides a revelation about the character of Roger Collins: that he’s not such a bad sort after all.

 

In the opening scene he catches his son David snooping around the bedroom of his governess. The reason David acted out against his father to begin with was because he overheard Roger telling Elizabeth that he felt his son might be better off in an institution. So when David discovers the letter from the foundling home, he assumes that the governess and his father are plotting together to send him to this mysterious institution in New York. But when Roger discovers that David has been prying into Miss Winters’ private mail, he lectures David on the fact that he wasn’t given permission to read it, and that doing so is the same as stealing. He’s trying to instill in his son the sort of values any good parent would want for their children: respect for the property of others.

 

Roger displays another positive quality in his character when he brings the letter downstairs to the drawing room to hand over to Miss Winters.

 

Elizabeth: What are you doing with Miss Winters’ letter?

Roger: I rescued this from David. I’d keep this under lock and key if I were you, Miss Winters. That is, if it’s important to you.

Vicki: Well hasn’t Mrs. Stoddard spoken to you about it?

Roger: No.

 

That means that Roger didn’t even bother to read it himself, which he could have done before bringing it downstairs. He has been in the dark as much as anyone regarding his sister’s reason for engaging Miss Winters, someone Elizabeth allegedly had never heard of before reaching out to the foundling home in New York. You would think Roger would be curious enough to at least glance through it to answer whatever questions he might have had himself about Miss Winters, and that he wouldn’t be above prying himself especially since he very nearly barged into her room without knocking during her first night in the house.

 

Perhaps he was merely preoccupied with how he perceived her relationship with Burke Devlin, the person who at the moment is Roger’s real concern. Vicki has already helped him in that area, by accompanying him on the midnight sojourn out to Burke’s hotel room to confirm that he was seen in the garage standing by Roger’s car while holding a wrench. It could be that Roger is respectful toward Vicki’s property and privacy now because he sees her as an ally in his battle against Burke Devlin.

 

The one whose motivations we’re not sure of at present is that of Elizabeth Stoddard, who, when the subject comes up of her discussing Vicki’s letter from the foundling home with Roger, takes charge of the situation by marching the governess right out of the room and sending her back upstairs to David.

 

Elizabeth: I think we can have this discussion later.

Vicki: But I wanted to –

Elizabeth: Later, Miss Winters.

 

Elizabeth leads Vicki out of the drawing room_ep25

 

Elizabeth: Right now I’d like you to go upstairs and finish David’s lessons with him. Thank you very much.

 

After Elizabeth closes the drawing room doors, Roger comments on how she has handled the situation:

 

Roger: I must admire you, Liz. You really have a neat way of managing people.

Elizabeth: I hope I can do as well with you.

 

Collinwood functions on a hierarchy of people management. At the very top of the chain is Elizabeth Stoddard. To his unending consternation, Roger finds himself to be just another underling in that chain of command with no more say in the workings of the household than his niece Carolyn, apart from liquor cabinet privileges.

 

Elizabeth wants for Roger to assist her in putting an end to Vicki’s nagging curiosity over the reasons why she was engaged as a governess at Collinwood, by telling her a fabricated story that can’t be checked up on. In a rare display of principle, after being unable himself to get the truth out of his sister, he considers refusing to lie to Miss Winters for her.

 

Roger: Liz, don’t you understand? If it’s important enough for Burke to try to find out about it, don’t you think I have a right to know?

Elizabeth: It has nothing to do with you.

Roger: Well you want me to lie for you, don’t you?

Elizabeth: I asked you to tell Miss Winters a certain story. That’s all I’m asking you to do.

Roger: What if I refuse?

Elizabeth: You won’t.

Roger: Don’t be too sure, Liz. You think you rule my life…

Elizabeth: Roger, you want to stay in this house. Either you do what I ask you to do, or you can pack your things and leave tomorrow.

Roger: Is it that important?

Elizabeth: My reason for engaging Miss Winters is private. It will remain private. And I’ll expect your cooperation in keeping it that way.

 

It’s unusual for a sibling to exercise so much authority over another, but in this case there’s a reason for it. By the time Dark Shadows is entering its second year, there’s a moment where a page in the family records is shown, in which the birth dates of each current member of the Collins family are revealed. Elizabeth Stoddard is seen to be eight years older than her brother.

 

But as originally envisioned by Art Wallace, when creating the character outlines for what would eventually become the series bible, Shadows on the Wall, the difference in age between Elizabeth and Roger is practically generational:

 

“…Her father, Joseph, had wanted a boy and was disappointed…and her mother, Carolyn, who was only eighteen at the time, devoted the rest of her life to fulfilling this ambition of her husband’s… Then came the astonishing news of Carolyn’s pregnancy at the age of thirty-eight, the birth of their son, Roger, and Carolyn’s death as a result.” (Shadows on the Wall, p. 11)

 

Elizabeth is more than a sister to Roger; she had also acted as a mother figure – the only one he had ever known:

 

“…and Elizabeth found more and more of the decisions of the business falling to her. Three years later, Joseph died. Elizabeth’s time was now fully occupied with managing the fishing fleet, and helping to raise a brother twenty years younger than herself.” (Shadows on the Wall, pp. 11-12)

 

So if you wonder how it is that Elizabeth is so effective at putting Roger in his place time and again, that’s why. The responsibility of maintaining the integrity of the Collins name rests on her shoulders. That’s why Roger’s battle with Burke Devlin is also her own, and perhaps even more so.

 

In the beginnings of Dark Shadows, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard is one of its definitive characters. The show in these early days belongs as much to Joan Bennett’s portrayal of Elizabeth as it does to Alexandra Moltke’s portrayal of Vicki. If Vicki is its soul, then Elizabeth is its heart. If Vicki is a bastion of hope, then Elizabeth is a pillar of strength. There would be no Collins family, and therefore no Collinwood, in the hands of Roger, only disarray and downfall.

 

So Roger does as he is asked, but you can tell from the facial expressions and gestures that Vicki can see right through him as he attempts to explain about the foundling home:

 

Roger: This letter has raised several questions in your mind.

Vicki: That’s true.

Roger: Specifically, you’re wondering about someone who apparently has hired a lawyer, or a detective rather, to find out why you were selected for this position, is that right?

Vicki: Yes.

Roger: You know, of course, Miss Winters that we think Burke Devlin is behind these inquiries.

Vicki: But why? What would he learn?

But why What would he learn_ep25

Roger: That’s exactly the point. Nothing.

Vicki: Then why should he bother?

Roger: Miss Winters, you know the situation here. You know that Burke Devlin’s main interest in coming back to Collinsport was to harm me and my family. He would try to learn anything, anything at all that might be damaging. Well tampering with the brakes on my car, I assure you, was far more fruitful than prying into your past.

Vicki: If he did tamper with them.

If he did tamper with them_ep25

Roger: Of course he did. Just as he hired a detective to find out all he could about you… Well, I certainly wouldn’t have helped him with the bleeder valve, removing it from my car. But I could’ve told him everything he wanted to know about you.

Vicki: You mean because of the person who recommended me for the job.

Roger: That’s right.

Vicki: Your sister told me about it my first day here. I mentioned it to you then, you must have forgotten about it.

Roger: Oh, I… I guess so.

Oh I guess so_ep25

Vicki: Well I haven’t, Mr. Collins. I remember your reaction at the time. You acted as though you never heard of it before.

You never heard of it before_ep25

Roger: Well I… suppose I had something else on my mind.

Well I suppose I had something else on my mind_ep25

Vicki: Well I suppose your sister must have had something else on her mind too when she told me that same story.

When she told me that same story_ep25

Roger: Why do you call it a story, as though it’s not the truth?

Why do you call it a story_ep25

Vicki: I’ve checked with the foundling home, Mr. Collins, perhaps you didn’t know that. Just like that detective did. And I know that no one at the foundling home had ever heard of you or your sister.

No one at the foundling home had ever heard of you or your sister_ep25

 

Naturally, Roger manages to wriggle his way out of it, concocting a story about donors to the foundling home who wish to remain anonymous but who became aware that Vicki was very good with children.

 

So, yet again, she is thwarted. But, for that matter, so is the viewer. At this stage of the show, what could be more interesting than what Elizabeth Stoddard knows about Victoria Winters? Especially since it’s a matter so private she won’t even confide in her own brother.

 

No doubt, if Art Wallace had stayed on Dark Shadows as a writer, the story of Victoria Winters would have been resolved. But it won’t be long before Dan Curtis begins to lose patience with Wallace’s pacing of story arcs, which leaves precious little time in terms of number of episodes to cycle back to Vicki and the search for answers to the mystery of her background.

 

For now, at least Vicki can utilize her supersleuthing capabilities in moving forward one of the other main storylines of the moment by bringing to Mrs. Stoddard’s attention the fact that David has been behaving strangely of late, and that it seems to have something to do with the cause of Roger’s accident.

 

Vicki: Mrs. Stoddard…

Mrs. Stoddard: Is David finished with his lessons for today?

Vicki: Well I wanted to talk to you about him.

Mrs. Stoddard: I’m sure it can wait.

Vicki: Ever since your brother’s accident, he’s been acting very strangely.

Mrs. Stoddard: Well, naturally. His father was almost killed.

Vicki: Well, what I mean is, when the sheriff was here he seemed to think he was going to be arrested.

 

Recall how episode 23 turned out, with David deliberately touching the wrench the sheriff brought back from the garage, so there would at least be a plausible explanation of how his prints came to be on the wrench. The look Vicki gave him as he watched the sheriff leave with the wrench said that she’s figured out something about David in that moment.

 

Vicki’s eyes are those of audience recognition; like those of the viewer, they are new to Collinwood and the people who live there. They also see things just as clearly, unclouded as they are by the deceptive judgment of personal bias. She is the only one who believes in Burke Devlin’s lack of guilt, because she has no reason to think otherwise, despite that she was the one who walked in on Burke in the garage when he was standing by Roger’s car holding the wrench the night of the accident and looking frankly guilty.

 

So, of course, she was the only one paying attention to David’s questionable and deliberate behavior when he handled the wrench that the sheriff had set aside so he could make a phone call, while everyone else in the room stood by with blinders on.

 

Mrs. Stoddard: I can’t worry about every fantasy of an imaginative boy.

Vicki: But what if it’s more than fantasy? Mrs. Stoddard, I don’t know how to say this, but… well you and Mr. Collins both seem to think you know who tampered with your brakes.

Mrs. Stoddard: Yes, Burke Devlin. The sheriff is probably with him right now.

Vicki: But even the sheriff said you should try to think if there wasn’t someone else who might want to kill your brother.

Mrs. Stoddard: There is no one else.

 

And then, to add a bit of irony as well as a hint where the missing brake valve story may be going, Roger enters the room to interject, “Except my loving son, of course.”

 

So when she’s unable to convince the adults in the house of what she suspects, she then goes to work at deconstructing the criminal mind of her nine-year-old charge.

 

David: What’s so important about that letter anyway?

Vicki: Maybe it’s just as important to me as those magazines are to you.

David: What magazines?

 

Then Vicki gets up, goes over to his bed, and picks up the copies of Mechano Magazine that David had been reading when she entered the room to resume his lessons.

 

Vicki: These. You learn a lot from them, don’t you David?… How to fix things, break them… put things together… take them apart…

 

Vicki: David, why were you so afraid of the sheriff?

David: Who says?

Vicki: You thought he’d come here to arrest you, didn’t you?

David: Why should he? I didn’t do anything!

Vicki: Then why are you always talking about going to jail?

 

David’s response is typically (Dark) Shadowsian, as he pauses to turn his back on the person he is speaking with and then continue the dialogue with “back acting” while doing what any nine-year-old would when cornered with logic – twist things around to make it look like others are at fault.

 

David: You’re just like my father. You want to get me in trouble, too. Just ‘cause I read your stupid letter.

Vicki: This has nothing to do with my letter.

David: I’ll bet it was all about me. I bet you and my father are planning to try and send me to that place.

Vicki: David, the foundling home is only for children who don’t have parents. Your father couldn’t send you there even if he wanted to.

David: I don’t believe it.

Vicki: Let’s get back to work.

David: Well you don’t believe me, why should I believe you? I didn’t have anything to do with my father’s car!

Vicki: I don’t remember accusing you, David.

 

Returning to her room later on, she finds that her letter is again missing. “David!” she surmises, as she crosses the hallway to search his room…

 

Vicki_ep25 GIF

 

Addendum:

Today’s edition of The Dan and Lela Show, the behind the scenes drama that unfolds through the microphone of the Dark Shadows television studio control room and which typically stars executive producer Dan Curtis and director Lela Swift, finds the show’s firebrand director worked up to a fever pitch.

 

Mark Allen, the actor who portrayed Sam Evans beginning with episode 5 but who was fired at the end of episode 22, misbehaved in Alexandra Moltke’s dressing room during the taping of episode 20, a Friday. Mark Allen’s shocking behavior that afternoon had apparently triggered something in Lela Swift’s mind over the weekend, because when cast and crew returned the next Monday for the taping of episode 21, suddenly Lela had taken to ogling Alexandra over the control room microphone, claiming it was because of what Mark Allen said he wanted to do during Friday afternoon’s incident in the actress’s dressing room.

 

So as the taping for episode 25 gets underway, Lela is quite out of control. Dark Shadows fans think that the first ghost on the show was Josette Collins. But, in truth, the first ghost was Mark Allen, whose actions from the previous week now haunt the television studio control room, having taken possession of the mind and behavior of his main nemesis Lela Swift.

 

In the teaser, as David prowls his way around Vicki’s bedroom:

 

Lela Swift: Dan, I don’t know if I can direct this episode. Alexandra Moltke is driving me crazy.

Dan Curtis: Oh, Lela, not again. Will you please control yourself?

 

Over the waves intro as the theme music kicks in, Lela makes her confession:

 

Lela: Dan, I’m really having a difficult time concentrating. Alexandra Moltke is so sexy and I just want to do what Mark Allen said…

 

During taping, as the scenes resume after a commercial brake, Lela continues with her mantra for the day:

 

Lela: I’m really having trouble concentrating, Dan.

Dan: Oh, Lela, will you just stop it, already?

 

Toward the end of episode taping, in the final scene where there is a lull in actor dialogue as Vicki enters her room to discover that David has taken her letter yet again, Dan Curtis provides his perspective to the ongoing issue with his director:

 

Dan: Poor Miss Moltke. Didn’t know what she was getting into when she left acting school. An actor who jerks off in her dressing room. And now a female director who ogles her over the control room microphone.

 

The discussion between Lela and Dan continues as Vicki crosses the hallway to search through David’s room:

 

Lela: Dan, I’m telling you. I just can’t control myself.

Dan: Well, you better, Lela. You made me get rid of Mark Allen for this sort of thing. Don’t make me get rid of you, too.

Lela: But Alex is so sexy. Damn that Mark Allen for making me think of it!

Dan: It’s not Mark Allen’s fault.

Lela: When she bends over like that, I just want to do what Mark Allen was talking about.

Dan: Lela, I’m warning you!

 

By this point, Vicki is approaching David’s dresser and the big reveal of what she finds in the top left drawer:

 

Lela: I’m rubbing myself!

Dan: Lela, get away from that microphone! Jesus Christ!

 

Over the end credits a few more words are exchanged between Dan and Lela:

 

Dan: For Christ sakes, Lela. I’m going to warn you for the last time. Stop ogling Alexandra over the control room microphone. That’s sexual harassment. And if Alexandra complains to me, I might have to let you go.

Lela: I can’t help it, Dan! Alexandra drives me crazy!

Dan: Now, look. I don’t care if you are a lesbian –

Lela: I’m bisexual. And I don’t care who knows it.

Dan: Well, good. But Alexandra doesn’t need to hear about it. She likes men…

 

Until next time, this has been The Dan and Lela Show.

 

Photo Gallery:

“David! What are you doing?”

David What are you doing_ep25

 

“Did Miss Winters give you the permission to read this letter?”

Did Miss Winters give you the permission to read this letter_ep25

 

“You said you wanted to send me away, didn’t you?”

You said you wanted to send me away didn't you (2)_ep25

 

“…when the sheriff was here he seemed to think he was going to be arrested.”

When the sheriff was here he seemed to think he was going to be arrested_ep25

 

“I rescued this from David.”

I rescued this from David_ep25

 

“I’d keep this under lock and key if I were you, Miss Winters.”

I'd keep this under lock and key if I were you_ep25

 

“Well hasn’t Mrs. Stoddard spoken to you about it?”

Well hasn't Mrs. Stoddard spoken to you about it_ep25

 

“I think we can have this discussion later.”

I think we can have this discussion later_ep25

 

“I must admire you, Liz. You really have a neat way of managing people.”

I must admire you Liz_ep25

 

“I hope I can do as well with you.”

I hope I can do as well with you_ep25

 

“You learn a lot from them, don’t you David?…”

You learn a lot from them don't you David_ep25

 

“…How to fix things, break them… put things together… take them apart…”

How to fix things and take them apart_ep25

 

“You want to get me in trouble, too.”

You want to get me in trouble too_ep25

 

“Father, did you hear from the sheriff yet? I just wanted to know if he’d arrested Mr. Devlin yet.”

Father did you hear from the sheriff yet_ep25

 

“You couldn’t be more anxious than me David.”

You couldn't be more anxious than me David_ep25

 

Favorite Lines/Exchanges:

Roger: David, I have something to explain to you. This letter is addressed to Miss Winters. It’s private. And reading it without her permission is just the same as stealing.

David: Why don’t you put me in jail?


David: You said you wanted to send me away, didn’t you?

Roger: If you don’t stop breaking into people’s rooms and reading their mail, I may have no choice.


Roger: I must admire you, Liz. You really have a neat way of managing people.

Elizabeth: I hope I can do as well with you.


Roger: You may be able to manage some people, Liz. But you can’t control an entire world.


Roger: I never heard of the girl until you told me she was on her way here.

Elizabeth: Perhaps you’ve forgotten then.

Roger: Oh, now you’re not making any sense. How could I forget something that I never knew?

Elizabeth: I engaged Miss Winters because you told me someone at the foundling home told you she was excellent with children. That’s what I’ve told her in the past, and that is what you’re going to tell her.

Roger: I see.

Elizabeth: She’ll undoubtedly ask you the name of the person who recommended her. We’ll have to prepare an answer for her that she can’t check on.

Roger: And what about my answer, Liz?

Elizabeth: I’ve already told you.

Roger: You’ve told me hocus pocus, Liz.

 

Background/Production Notes:

In the opening scene, there is a close-up on the front of the envelope that Vicki received special delivery from the foundling home in New York. The address for Collinwood is given as:

“Miss Victoria Winters

Collinwood

Collinsport, Maine”

Vicki's special delivery letter from the foundling home_the address for Collinwood_ep25

 

Later in the episode, when David removes the letter from a bureau drawer in Vicki’s room, the sender’s name and address can be seen on the back flap:

“Mrs. Alice Hopewell

Director of Services

The Hammond Foundling Home

Foundlings get Personalized Care

New York, N. Y.”

Vicki's special delivery letter from the foundling home_sender's name and address_ep25

 

Constable Carter, who first appeared in episode 23 as the constable but who wore a sheriff’s patch on his uniform beginning in episode 24 even though he was still being referred to as a constable all throughout that episode, is for the first time referred to as “the sheriff” in episode 25.

 

Elizabeth’s father was named Joseph, and her mother’s name was Carolyn. Elizabeth’s mother died after giving birth to Roger, and her father died three years later. Elizabeth is twenty years older than Roger.

 

Episode 25 is set exclusively in Collinwood. Sets used are, in order of appearance: Vicki’s room, hallway, David’s room, and drawing room.

 

David is seen in his room reading another copy of the fictional Mechano Magazine, which has a different cover from the one he was reading and gave to Vicki as a present in episode 14.

David with an issue of Mechano Magazine_1966

 

Daily studio schedule for Dark Shadows in 1966

7:00-11:00 a.m.  Lighting

8:30-10:30           Morning Rehearsal

10:30-11:30         Break/Make-Up

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

3:30-4:00             Knockdown

3:45-4:15             Technical Meeting

4:00-6:30             Dry Rehearsal for Next Episode

4:00-7:00             Reset Studio

 

Set Design:

As David prowls about Vicki’s room in the opening scene, the camera gets a close-up on the gorgeous craftsmanship of the designs across the front of the mantelpiece, an illustration of the level of style and detail that visually elevated Dark Shadows into a realm of its own among the network television daytime programming of the period.

Collinwood mantelpiece_Vicki's room_ep25

 

Bloopers/Story Continuity:

In Act I, as Roger explains to David why he shouldn’t be reading the letter addressed to Miss Winters, the music cue keeps stopping and restarting. The same thing occurs later in the episode, also in David’s room, when Vicki questions David on the interest he holds in his magazines on mechanics.

 

In the drawing room scene where Elizabeth sets the terms for Roger as to what he is to tell Vicki about his background knowledge of the foundling home, the Collinsport Fly takes an active and persistent interest in Joan Bennett’s hair and face. In his interview for the 35th anniversary edition of Dark Shadows Memories, David Henesy mentioned that the perfume Joan Bennett wore was called Jungle Gardenia.

Collinsport Fly_ep25 GIF

Jungle Gardenia_vintage perfume ad_ep25

 

At the top of the end credits, there is a seven-second delay before the closing theme music can be heard (already in progress).

 

Propspotting:

Of special interest is that clock on the center of the mantelpiece in Vicki’s room, with all its intricate designs of black metallic. Closer inspection reveals a figurine standing among the workings directly below the face of the clock. This clock can be seen in several locations throughout the run of Dark Shadows not only in Collinwood and around Collinsport, but also through the time traveling of centuries.

Clock in Vicki's room 1966_ep25

 

The Petofi box is in its usual place on the table outside Vicki’s room, seen in full relief as Roger chases David through the hallway.

Petofi box_ep25

 

The electric green Victorian oil lamp has a double life between the Evans cottage and Collinwood. In episode 25, it is on the writing table in David’s room.

Green lamp_David's room_ep25

 

In the final scene, as Vicki searches through David’s room for her missing letter, a close view is given of the LOOK photo (right of window).

LOOK photo_ep25

 

Dark Shadows Cast Member Spotlight: Joan Bennett

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_Elizabeth Collins Stoddard 1966_ep25

(Elizabeth Collins Stoddard 1966)

 

On the evening of December 13, 1951, Joan Bennett was in a car with her agent Jennings Lang in a Los Angeles parking lot, when along comes the jealous husband, Walter Wanger, showing up with a gun and accusations against the man he claimed was breaking up his home. Two shots were fired, and overnight one of the premiere movie careers in the golden age of movie making was all but over. The agent survived, the assailant spent around 100 days in jail, and the husband and wife eventually split up following years of estrangement.

 

In her autobiography published in 1970, Joan Bennett reflects on the scandal that derailed her acting career in film:

 

“Without question, the shooting scandal and resulting publicity destroyed my career in the motion picture industry. Within a short time, it was painfully clear that I was a professional outcast in Hollywood, one of the ‘untouchables.’ I was excommunicated, and evidence lies in the fact that before December 13, 1951, I’d made sixty-five films in twenty-three years, while in the decade that followed I’d made five. Suddenly I was the villain of the piece, the apex of a triangle that had driven my husband to a shocking act of violence. I might just as well have pulled the trigger myself. The movie business was still bound by an inviolable code of behavior. One simply didn’t act like ‘that,’ though like ‘what’ is still not clear. Had the incident occurred in the present day, I’d be quite fashionable, but then it was a different matter.” (The Bennett Playbill, p. 306)

 

With few other options, Bennett returned to stage work; since theater relied on paying customers, her success in that area seemed to signal that the public had forgiven her, even if Hollywood’s “code of behavior” had not. In April 1952, she was on the road for nearly a year with a national tour of Bell, Book and Candle, having replaced Rosalind Russell. There were a few more films in that decade, but nothing after Desire in the Dust in 1960. “And that was it, the end of thirty-two years in the industry.” (The Bennett Playbill, p. 307)

 

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_original trailer for Father's Little Dividend_1951_ep25

(Star billing in the original theatrical trailer for Father’s Little Dividend, 1951)

 

In addition to stage work, Miss Bennett was also exploring the additional creative option of the new medium of television:

 

“Despite my frenetic introduction to television on NBC’s Show of Shows in 1951, and memories of the beanbag song, between stock engagements and national tours, I did quite a bit of national television in the following years: Playhouse 90, Climax, Junior Miss with Don Ameche, and others I can’t even remember. I was beginning to think TV wasn’t so monstrous after all.” (The Bennett Playbill, p. 314)

 

Bennett’s most recent role prior to Dark Shadows was as Denise Mitchell in Who Killed Mr. Colby in Ladies’ Lingerie?, an episode from the action/adventure crime drama Burke’s Law (season 2, episode 24; broadcast date: March 3, 1965).

 

Okay, here’s Mrs. Stoddard…

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_as Denise Mitchell in Burke's Law episode 1965_ep25

…but where’s the drawing room? Is this some parallel Collinwood we don’t know about?

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_as Denise Mitchell in Burke's Law episode (1965)_ep25

 

Despite that she had appeared in numerous television productions in the decade leading up to Dark Shadows, she was initially less than enthusiastic about the demanding grind of daytime television, an area which at that time it was unheard of for a star of her stature to be working:

 

“…my agent, Tom Korman, came up with an offer for a daytime television series, Dark Shadows, for the American Broadcasting Company. At first I shuddered at the idea of a daytime ‘soap opera’ …Furthermore, I had some vague notion that the actors who worked in them were second-raters. I must admit I was forewarned about the work schedule when ABC’s Dan Curtis asked me if I really wanted to put up with a daily routine that was so demanding. Well, I thought, I’ve worked hard all of my life and a tough schedule certainly never intimidated me. Besides, my agent told me he could always get me released if I found the pace too difficult.” (The Bennett Playbill, p. 325-326)

 

On the plus side, there was the guarantee of steady work with decent pay:

 

“She consoled herself with the likelihood that the series would run no more than several weeks, and signed on for a salary of $333 an episode with a guarantee of three episodes per week.” (The Bennetts: An Acting Family, p. 422)

 

Being on Dark Shadows would also mean more publicity, as the producers used her name recognition in the early days for promotional ads like the one below:

 

Dark Shadows early promo_Herald-Mail_Hagerstown Maryland_June 25 1966_ep25

(An early promo published on June 25, 1966)

 

By the time episode 25 was broadcast (July 29, 1966), Dark Shadows had been on the air for just over a month, managing “a 17.8 share of the viewing audience – around 9 million viewers by the week.” (The Bennetts: An Acting Family, p. 425)

 

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_end credits_ep25

 

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_The Woman in the Window (Edward G Robinson)_1944_ep25

(With Edward G. Robinson in The Woman in the Window, 1944)

 

Recommended Reading:

Joan Bennett’s 1970 autobiography (original front and back covers).

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_The Bennett Playbill_front cover_ep25

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_The Bennett Playbill_back cover_ep25

 

 

The Bennetts: An Acting Family, the 2004 biography (front cover).

Joan Bennett cast member spotlight_The Bennetts An Acting Family_front cover_ep25

 

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!”

Dark Passages_novel_front cover

 

Recommended Listening:

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.

Dark Shadows_Soundtrack Music Collection_Front cover

 

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.

And Red All Over_CD booklet front image

 

Coming next: Episode 26: Can He Cut the Mustard?

 

— Marc Masse

(aka PrisoneroftheNight)

 

© 2018 Marc Masse and Dark Shadows

from the Beginning. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of

the content herein is a violation of the

terms and standards as set forth under

U.S. copyright law.

12 thoughts on “Episode 25: People Management”

  1. It’s a bit hard to tell, with b/w photos, but the pattern on the bedspread in David’s room seems to be the same material used in Chris Jennings’ cottage as a tablecloth as well as the curtains in the Rose Cottage drawing room in 1840. (Apparently a VERY popular fabric – or some of the Collinsport Afghan’s magic must have rubbed off onto it.)

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  2. Joan Bennett – what a class act! She and Alexandra Moltke were the two actors who kept my interest in the Beginning episodes mostly because they both were consistently portrayed as strong female leads – always staying true to their values and committing to doing what they felt was the “right thing.”
    And thanks again, Prisoner, for noticing the small details (the postmark on the letter from the Foundling home). You have a talent for seeing things that most viewers do not.

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      1. He does give Lela the occasional break to think things over — it’s the reason John Sedwick, the associate director, was brought in to direct a few episodes beginning with episode 29.

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    1. She does complain to Dan Curtis either before or during the taping of episode 26, because of the persistence of Lela’s behavior, after which he puts Lela “on probation”; Lela then ogles another actress during the taping of episode 28, making the actress angry enough to walk off the show. Fortunately, they were able to convince the actress to return after a week or so — otherwise it would have been a very different Dark Shadows.

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      1. I bet Lela never said anything insulting about Grayson Hall over the studio mic. Grayson would have marched up into that control room and snatched her bald headed.

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      2. @Samantha Harris:

        Not that I’ve heard. Although, during the first 2 or 3 weeks after the debut of Barnabas, she does say several unpleasant things about Jonathan Frid — until John Karlen finally complains. Like Joan Bennett, Lela was not thrilled about the transition to a vampire story, and was persistently vocal in her protests to Dan Curtis. So Dan gave her a little vacation, as well as an ultimatum, to think things through.

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  3. Poor Jonathan, how humiliating for him. No wonder he had so much trouble with his lines.
    Prisoner, I want to say that your blog is wonderful and I’ve read every word of it. It’s like taking a course in television production, made even more enjoyable because it’s about a show I hold so dear. Thanks for everything you put into your entries – your efforts are very much appreciated!

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