The Tarrytown Diaries of Professor Stokes



Dark Shadows Ladies

Terry Crawford, Diana Millay,
Marie Wallace & Lara Parker

The audience was then invited to ask questions, and one of the first that came up was, “Who was your favorite leading man—and who was your least favorite?” Marie glanced to the ladies on either side of her.  “Well, I think we all know who our least favorite was,” she remarked dryly.  Together: “Roger Davis!”  “He used to sit on my hair all the time,” Diana complained.  “In our scenes, I was usually lying down, and he would just walk over, sit down and start saying his lines.”  Marie repeated her Festival 2002 anecdote about how Roger (as Jeff Clark) unexpectedly and violently shoved her (as Eve) out of the camera’s range when he hadn’t dared any such thing during rehearsal.  Lara spoke up for Roger, mentioning how much everybody liked him, in spite of how difficult he could be.  “Roger is very brilliant, and he used to like to re-write the scripts.  He did that on “Smith and Jones” all the time.  He would change the dialogue and make it better—but he would do it at the last minute.”  “I think he had it planned in advance,” Marie argued, “but he didn’t pull anything during rehearsal because he knew he wouldn’t be able to get away with it.” Lara also admitted that she didn’t really like to work opposite Jonathan Frid.  “He would forget his lines, and it would make you look bad.  When you watched the show, the confusion on Jonathan’s face made him seem like a tortured, guilt-ridden vampire, and it was wonderful, but the pauses in between made it seem that you were the one who had forgotten the lines.”  Marie slyly confided that her trick for avoiding such a problem, even if she had been the one to flub the lines, was to immediately glare at the other actor as though it were his fault.

Haunted Tree

As for favorite leading men, Marie named Humbert Allen Astredo.  Terry expressed how much she enjoyed working with both David Selby and James Storm.  Lara stated that the actor she best liked to work with was John Karlen.  “He was such a marvelous actor; he had so much talent, but he was frustrated because he was working on a soap opera instead of in films.  He could make changes in the way he delivered his lines that were so subtle.  If you watched him carefully, you could see how he added new layers to the scenes with each rehearsal, and he gave some really marvelous performances.”

Lara then shared a story of how Johnny had recently come to stay with her family while he was between apartments.  The weekend before, her meticulous mother-in-law had been a guest, and she had taken it upon herself to remove the sheets and blankets and fold them up before leaving.  “I saw all of the sheets folded on top of the washing machine, and I assumed that I must have already put new sheets on the bed.”  When his visit ended, Johnny went to Lara and thanked her profusely for being so gracious.  “I went into the guest room to change the sheets—and the only things on the bed were a pillow with no pillow case and a quilt.  I was so embarrassed, I sat down and cried for half an hour.  Also that weekend, we had had an invasion of ants, and there had been ants all over his sink…But he was so nice and hadn’t complained at all the entire time.”

A woman in the audience noted that most of the female characters on the show were villains and asked how the actresses thought their characters might be written today as heroes.  “I don’t think Beth was ever a villain,” Terry remarked.  “You mean Edith?  Why? Because I was a little mean to my husband who was in a wheelchair and only pretending he couldn’t walk?”  “I thought I was a hero,” Diana protested.  “If my character were on TV today, I would probably be a hero by setting fires.”  Marie pointed out that villains never see themselves as villains.  “Part of the job of playing the heavy is to find the motivation for what you’re doing, and play the scenes to justify that,” Lara explained.