Due to the grueling five-shows-a-week schedule, the expense and the difficulty of video editing in those days, most scenes were shot in a single take. Actors and actresses routinely flubbed their lines and searched for the teleprompter, set pieces collapsed, props malfunctioned, crew members walked into shots, microphones and secondary cameras got in the way, and it all wound up being preserved, because the production team figured each episode would only be seen one time.
In an interview with writer, Ron Sproat, he and fellow writer, Gordon Russell, had just met with the show's creator, Dan Curtis, where they were given the news that a vampire would be added to the show. After the meeting, the two writers were on an elevator and it was at that moment that they decided that Barnabas would be "a reluctant vampire" with a conscience. It was the right decision, as Barnabas saved the show from the axe. They kept him on as the lead when he was only supposed to be around for a few episodes. This incidentally made Barnabas Collins the first example of a sympathetic vampire seen on-screen.
Since the show was cancelled rather suddenly, viewers never learned Barnabas' fate. Since the vampire curse was already lifted by Angelique during the series, according to the writers on a special dvd narration: Barnabas eventually married Dr. Julia Hoffman, and they vacationed in Europe where she would eventually discover a cure for others afflicted with vampirism. Chris Jennings and Sabrina left Collinspirt and during one of his transformations into a warewolf, he killed Sabrina, then discovering what he had done, killed himself. Maggie and Joe eventually regained physical and mental health at Windcliff and were married. Carolyn never remarried after Jeb Hawkes (during the series) and was teaching Occult Studies at a university. In the audio CD continuation they take up the story as Quentin returns to Collinwood for the reading of Elizabeth's will. Half of the family business is to be shared by Carolyn and David (who was now married and was on a research project in Egypt). Victoria Winters is revealed to be Elizabeth's daughter, and is to get the house known as Seaview that she and Burke Devlin were going to buy before he was killed years earlier. Willie married and inherited the Old House which he then made modern improvements. Maggie and Quintin were a couple, and Carolyn and Ned Stewart were newlyweds. Angelique was back stirring up trouble by controlling Carolyn through an oil painting Carolyn was painting. There are more continuations on Audio CDs.
Jonathan Frid didn't pose for the famous portrait of him that hung in Collinwood because they had not yet cast the part. Line Producer Robert Costello did. The face was left blank until the actor was hired. The portrait was the last image shown on the last episode.
The role of Dr. Julia Hoffman was originally supposed to be "Julian" Hoffman, and portrayed by a man. In the first episode, in which this character is mentioned (before she appeared on-screen), Dr. Hoffman is specifically referred to as a "he", and "one of the finest men I know." Before the role was cast however, writer Bob Costello mistakenly mention the name as Julia Hoffman and the she's creator, Dan Curtis grabbed onto that and said, "Yes, let's make it a woman doctor". The character description was typed up, and the name "Julian" became "Julia".
The first episode shot in color was #294, but it was originally broadcast in black-and-white. Episode #295 was the first broadcast in color. In a twist of irony, the color tape of #294 survived and #295 was lost, so existing copies of the first episode which aired in color are dubbed from a black-and-white kinescope print.
For more than a year and a half, the characters of this show used almost every possible phrase to refer to Barnabas Collins ("He's not alive!", "He's one of the undead.", "He walks at night, but he ain't alive.") It wasn't until the four hundred tenth episode, that the word "vampire" was used on the show.
Thayer David holds the record for playing the most characters in this series. He portrayed Matthew Morgan #2, Ben Stokes (in 1795), Professor Timothy Eliot Stokes, Sandor Rakosi (in 1897), Count Petofi (also in 1897), Quentin Collins (his mind in Petoffi's body, also in 1897), Stokes (Parallel Time), aged Professor Stokes (1995), aged Ben Stokes (1840), aged Ben Stokes (Parallel Time, 1840).
The story outline for the show was titled "Shadows on the Wall". Other titles considered were "The House on Widows' Hill" and "Terror at Collinwood" before the producers finally decided upon "Dark Shadows".
The role of Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) was only supposed to last a few weeks, but her interaction with Barnabas was a hit with the writers and the fans. When another writer was needed, it was Hall who suggested her writer husband, Sam Hall, to the show's creator, Dan Curtis.
David Selby was written out because he developed appendicitis and had to undergo surgery. He recovered as the show was cancelled, and was able to appear in the final theatrical spin-off, Night of Dark Shadows (1971).
Visual effects were very costly for a daytime soap opera. In order to keep within the budget, the show's creator, Dan Curtis, decreed that no more than five characters could appear in a single episode (this was occasionally relaxed for sweeps-week episodes, in which major plot twists took place).
The first time Jonathan Frid had to bite a victim, he had to rush to the set in a few seconds. He only had a few seconds to put his fangs in. They wound up going in upside down, and he chewed them to bits.
Barnabas gave Josette a music box as a token of his love, and somehow through the centuries, he always manages to have it on hand when he falls in love again (usually with someone he sees as his next Josette).
The first daytime soap opera to appear in syndicated reruns. A selected batch of episodes was syndicated in the U.S. from 1975 to 1990. Then, in 1992, the Syfy Channel obtained exclusive rights to rerun all 1,225 episodes.
The series was ABC's first soap opera to appear in color, beginning with the August 14, 1967 telecast. Many shows which transitioned to color endured radical set overhauls, but following some screentesting, the crew discovered they didn't have to change a thing.
Roger Davis' new bride, Jaclyn Smith, was given the opportunity to try out for the part of Victoria Winters, but according to head writer, Sam Hall in an interview at the end of disk 4 of Collection 23, Dan Curtis (Executive Producer/Creator) "did not like her read".
Following its appearance in a few early episodes, the set of The Old House was scrapped when a well-meaning ABC Studio executive was walking through sets. Seeing all the cobwebs and disarray, he mistakenly thought the set hadn't been used in years and ordered it destroyed. Carpenters and set designers at Dan Curtis Productions had to quickly reconstruct it (cobwebs and all) from images in previous episodes so shooting could continue.
Actress Alexandra Moltke did the voiceover introductions on the majority of the beginning episodes until it was discovered that they had to pay her full daily pay even if her character wasn't in the episode. So, to be cost effective, they then had an actor or actress appearing on that particular episode do the introduction.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Kathryn Leigh Scott was one of the first people hired for the show. Upon her arrival for work one day she saw the costumer and make up people trying to create a dummy for the ghost of Josette Collins. She asked if she could wear the white flowing dress and portray the ghost herself and they agreed. They didn't let it die there. When Barnabas was introduced, it was further explained that Josette was his long-lost love, and Scott played that part when the storyline jumped back to the year 1795. They had her coming and going, so to speak.