She came out of nowhere. No one in the town of Collinsport was sure who she was. The little girl herself didn’t seem to fully understand where she came from or why she was there.
“I think I must be a ghost,” she said at one point. “I’m sure I am.”
For 37 episodes in late 1967 and early 1968, 10 year old Sharon Smyth portrayed Sarah Collins on the legendary, horror themed soap opera DARK SHAADOWS. The lonely, lost little girl served as the conscience for Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid), her older brother. More than 150 years after their family had passed on, Barnabas still walked the earth as a vampire.
When the DS writers sent governess Victoria Winters (Alexandra Moltke) back to the 18th century to witness the events which caused Barnabas to turn, viewers met the living Sarah in the final months of her short life. On January 26, 1968, DS viewers wept as they watched a fever-wracked Sarah die in her brother’s arms. Smyth played the scene for all it was worth.
DARK SHADOWS proved to be the highlight of Sharon Smyth’s acting career. A few years later, after appearing in numerous commercials and print ads, she chose to leave show business.
“I just wanted to go to school and hang out with my friends,” she said of her decision.
Sharon Smyth today is a happily married mother living in Pennsylvania. She’s a fan favorite at DARK SHADOWS Festivals, and now counts many of her fans as among her closest friends. She and fans often chat about their lives on Facebook, but she’s also been known to see a few lucky fans who live in her area socially. Smyth and her fans have celebrated each other’s joys and supported each other in times of sorrow. It’s a unique yet lovely phenomenon in the annals of fandom.
“Many fans of the show have become dear friends to me,” she told FANGORIA. “Their enthusiasm and sincerity is inspiring. I am awed by their loyalties to DARK SHADOWS and its cast and crew.”
Smyth looks back upon her DARK SHADOWS tenure fondly. As a youngster, she delighted in the magical Gothic trappings she found herself in. “As a ten year old child on DARK SHADOWS, I couldn’t have asked for a more fun experience. It was a playground of make-believe!”
Going through the photographs on Smyth’s Facebook page, it’s hard not to notice a delightful picture of Smyth, literally swept off her feet by Jonathan Frid. “The photo of Jonathan holding me in his arms is from a luncheon I was invited to in New York City in 1986,” she recalled. “Upon being informed that his little sister Sarah was there, he proceeded to scoop me up, and, with that booming voice of his, said ‘Sarah! You’ve come back to me!’ It was perfect!”
Jonathan Frid has since passed on, as have other DARK SHADOWS cast members. “Working with such seasoned performers as Jonathan, Joan Bennett and Grayson Hall, I consider myself one lucky little girl,” Smyth said. “Although no longer with us, they have left indelible marks on our lives with their iconic portrayals of such iconic characters as Barnabas Collins, Elizabeth Stoddard and Dr. Julia Hoffman. I remember them as kind and genuine to me.”
One of Smyth’s closest friends from DARK SHADOWS fandom is Barry Dodd, creator of RAGGED ISLE, a spooky web serial inspired in part by DARK SHADOWS. “Both myself and my wife Karen are second generation fans of DARK SHADOWS,” Dodd told FANGORIA. “Our mothers are part of the hordes of teens who used to run home from school to watch it.”
Dodd shared the story of how he and Smyth came into each other’s lives. “We had heard about the DARK SHADOWS Festivals and decided to attend one in 2011 in Brooklyn NY. It was to be Jonathan Frid’s final convention before he passed. RAGGED ISLE was in full swing so we decided to give the actors our cards and tell them a bit about our show and its DS inspiration. Well, Sharon actually went home and watched our show! We started communicating on Facebook shortly after. She shared our show with her followers and online friends and she’s become a true fan of our work. It’s such a thrill to have Sharon, someone who we watched and were inspired by become a fan and supporter of our series. It’s the ultimate honor. She even mentioned it ON STAGE at last year’s DS festival dinner. Karen and I sat at our table and cried we were so overwhelmed by the gesture!”
RAGGED ISLE has since gone on to win several prizes at the Indie Soap Awards. “I took a chance and asked Sharon if she’d like to attend with us,” said Dodd. “To my surprise she said yes! We spent the day with her upon her arrival, and the night ended with Sharon, myself, and one of our amazing actors Rick Dalton sharing the stage to present an award. It was a dream come true and we feel incredibly lucky to have Sharon in our lives. It’s been a real blessing.”
Ragged Isle star Rick Dalton, presenting an award with Sharon & Barry Dodd at the Indie Soap Awards
Dodd has just completed work on RAGGED ISLE’s third and final season. He said he hoped to cast Smyth in a future project.
Sharon Smyth has a personal favor to ask of her fans and friends. “There is currently an effort to have Jonathan Frid, our beloved Barnabas, nominated for a place on the Canadian Walk of Fame. What a wonderful tribute that would be! Jonathan was born in Canada, and served in the Royal Canadian Navy. He also performed in theater and television there. Jonathan certainly left his mark in our hearts and minds, and I believe it is fitting to honor him and his memory in a very concrete way. Please take this opportunity to show some love. Through the month of April 2013, just go to www.canadaswalkoffame.com and vote.”
We at Fango would like to encourage you to show Sharon Smyth some love as well. She’s recently launched a website: www.sharonsmyth.net, where you can peruse photos, get information on her extensive career in television commercials and modeling, send her a personal message, and purchase some really neat Sarah Collins merchandise.
And don’t forget to check out RAGGED ISLE, Sharon’s favorite web series: www.raggedisle.com
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