BARNABAS’ COLUMN: Jerry Lacy: Possessed by Bogie
“I give warning to the powers of darkness, that the powers of light are at hand. Yield yourself to their command, and spare yourself their awesome force, which is about to strike your very soul…..”
- Jerry Lacy as Reverend Trask on DARK SHADOWS, October 1967
Reverend Trask, the fanatical 18th century witch hunter on DARK SHADOWS, is the role that Jerry Lacy is most closely identified with. Lacy, an old school character actor who knew how to chew the scenery, milked Trask for all the character was worth. The Reverend was a terrifying figure who claimed to be doing The Lord’s work, even as he tormented and tortured the innocent.
In one of DARK SHADOWS’ most unnerving sequences, the good Reverend got his well deserved comeuppance: it was a homage to Edgar Allen Poe’s THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. Lacy’s screams of anguish in that scene remain unforgettable to this day.
Lacy went on to have an impressive career. He was a staple on daytime TV through the 1980s and appeared in numerous films. The actor most recently essayed the titular role in Ansel Faraj’s Fritz Lang/film noir/DARK SHADOWS tribute DOCTOR MABUSE, which was recently covered FANGO here.
In all of his performances, Lacy commanded the screen, displaying the kind of star quality often associated with 1940s anti-heroes like Bogart – whom he had played so expertly in the stage and screen versions of Woody Allen’s PLAY IT AGAIN SAM (see him doing his Bogie impression in a Right Guard deodorant commercial below!).
In 1968, possible Trask descendant Tony Peterson (also played by Lacy) was paired with Cassandra Collins (Lara Parker) on a complex DARK SHADOWS storyline set in modern times. Cassandra, you see, was really the evil witch Angelique in disguise. Poor Tony was Cassandra’s unwilling slave, ready at her beck and call to assist her in putting her diabolical plans into motion.
As the storyline progressed, there were oh-so-subtle hints of a sexual chemistry between the supernatural seductress and her hapless errand boy.
Nearly forty-five years later, Lacy and Parker re-teamed as Tony and Cassandra in a series of audio dramas produced for CD. The discs are part of a larger series of all new DARK SHADOWS tales produced by UK-based Big Finish Productions.
When Tony and Cassandra meet again, both are embittered and distrustful of each other. But it turns out that each needs the other, and they come to a grudging, if cautious mutual respect. There are even hints of a possible romance in their future.
Lacy has described the Tony/Cassandra reunions as being in the vein of Nick and Nora Charles, the urbane, sophisticated husband and wife detective team played by William Powell and Myrna Loy in MGM’s THIN MAN film series, which launched in 1934.
The Tony/Cassandra CD series opens with DARK SHADOWS: THE DEATH MASK, which finds the former enemies meeting during a party at a desolate island mansion on a dark and stormy night…
There’s a murder, and it’s tied to a bejeweled mask with strange powers…
DARK SHADOWS: THE VOODOO AMULET finds the pair in New Orleans, where Cassandra needs Tony’s help. At this point our lovebirds still cannot trust each other. Yet both are obviously aching for a nice, long lip lock that neither will admit to. As they dart in and out of The Big Easy’s dark alleys, smoky bars and spooky graveyards, Tony and Cassandra struggle to find the missing amulet: their lives hang in the balance.
In DARK SHADOWS: THE PHANTOM BRIDE, Tony and Cassandra are aboard a ship sailing for London when another mystery unfolds. There’s a ghost on board, and she’s pissed. Because in 1929, she was murdered…
Lacy and Parker, long time colleagues and friends who have appeared together at many a DARK SHADOWS FESTIVAL, and who also worked together in DOCTOR MABUSE, know their roles, and each other, well. There’s a comforting familiarity to their performances. The scripts are cleverly written, and successfully combine the spooky aura of DARK SHADOWS with the elegant, drawing room wit of THE THIN MAN. The actors remain absolutely true to their DARK SHADOWS characters, while also channeling Powell and Loy, not to mention Bogie and Bacall.
The DARK SHADOWS audio dramas may be ordered from Big Finish Productions HERE.
Like any stage trained actor, Lacy’s voice is one of his strongest assets. Fans of the actor might therefore want to check out his solo CD: JERRY LACY: FAVORITE GHOST STORIES AND POEMS. The simply produced disc, featuring lovely cover art by daughter Kerry Kathleen Lacy, features fifteen ghostly dramatic readings that are best heard when the fog is thick and the moon is full.
Lacy’s intense vocal stylings offer a new kind of depth to beloved classics like Poe’s THE RAVEN and the profoundly tragic ANNABEL LEE.
Other authors represented include Ambrose Bierce, Guy de Maupassant, and Lacy himself, whose GOING HOME AGAIN is a delightful chiller about a young man who finds that his old family homestead is haunted. What the poor chap doesn’t seem to understand is that he himself is the ghost!
A delight from start to finish, JERRY LACY: FAVORITE GHOST STORIES AND POEMS is a must have that the actor’s fan base, and those who delight in old fashioned spook shows, will enjoy. Not available in stores, it can be found at Ebay, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll be returning to the great house of Collinwood next month with another installment of BARNABAS’ COLUMN, featuring more strange journeys into the world of DARK SHADOWS.