Chris Pennock, DARK SHADOWS

Chris Pennock, DARK SHADOWS


Post3:43 AM - Feb 13#1

Pennock is best known to fans of DARK SHADOWS as Jeb Hawkes from the Leviathan storyline and as Cyrus Longworth, DARK SHADOWS’ homage to Jekyll & Hyde.

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Shadowgram reports: “It is with a truly heavy heart that we report the passing of Chris Pennock today in Santa Monica, California at age 76 following several days of hospitalized care.

The always passionate and irrepressible Chris has been a warm presence at the "Dark Shadows" Festivals for decades, always ready to share his time and talents with fans in person as well as through his imaginative comic books and his personal Facebook page.

Starting with a variety of sinister and slightly off-center characters on the original "Dark Shadows" daytime series during its final two years -- where he portrayed the grown Leviathan creature called Jeb Hawkes, the split personality scientist Cyrus Longworth and his evil alter-ego John Yaeger, astrologist Sebastian Shaw and the murderous Gabriel Collins --  Chris became a longtime player on soap operas, later appearing in "Somerset," "General Hospital," "The Young & The Restless," "Days Of Our Lives" and "The Guiding Light." 
On primetime television, Chris made guest spots on "Melrose Place," "Simon & Simon," "The Love Boat," "Dynasty," "The A-Team," "Tucker's Witch" and "Hotel."  Chris made his movie debut in "Night of Dark Shadows" in 1971 and was also seen in "Savages," "Basic Training," "The Great Texas Dynamite Chase," "California Suite," "Frances," "Doctor Mabuse: Etiopomar" and, most recently, "A Journey To A Journey."
Chris performed on the Broadway stage in "The Rose Tattoo," "Abelard & Heloise" and "A Patriot For Me."  His other theatrical credits include "The Philadelphia Story," "Third," "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" and "Royal Hunt Of The Sun."  He is a lifelong member of The Actors Studio, a professional organization for actors, directors and playwrights best known for  teaching method acting. 
In addition to his series of "Dark Shadows"-inspired comic books, Chris also participated in numerous new "Dark Shadows" audio dramas over the past two decades. Born June 7, 1944 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Chris was also a devoted practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and lived with his school teacher wife Lynn in the rustic mountain community of Idyllwild, California. 
In addition to Lynn, he is survived by their daughter Tara.
Chris will be dearly missed by his family, friends and many fans but his boundless energy,
creative talents and loving spirit will live on.


Post3:59 AM - Feb 13#2

Very sad news. Chris was someone truly bigger than life. I met him originally 51 years ago this month, outside of the Dark Shadows studio. He was dressed in full hippie regalia, "smoking a butt," and rockin' some killer shades. I had the opportunity to interview him twice in the last ten years, once for Fangoria and the other for Scary Monsters (entitled "The Thing in the Box"), and he did not disappoint me. Outrageous, funny as hell, and extremely talented, he created the last great monster for Dark Shadows. Rest in peace, my wild friend!  


Post5:25 AM - Feb 13#3

Yeah, somebody mentioned during last Friday's Dark Shadows watch party that he was in the hospital with pneumonia. Very sad. My condolences to his family and friends.

Rest in peace, Chris Pennock.

Scott Gamble

Post9:24 AM - Feb 13#4

This is very sad news indeed! Way too young and probably a lousy time to be hospitalized... anywhere.

Rest in peace dear sir!


Post5:39 PM - Feb 13#5

This has been in my Dark Shadows archives for over a half century.  I suspect Christopher Pennock would've guffawed at 16 Magazine referring to him as a "Dreamboat," but been forgiving about them misidentifying his Dark Shadows character as 'Derek.'
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Post9:17 PM - Feb 13#6

Here's some of an interview I did with Chris for Scary Monsters: 

8. Gotta do what ya gotta do. Listen to your muse, as they say.
CHRIS: Muse-schmuse. I was more motivated by steady money! Forty bucks a week. Yeehah! For a while, I shared a cockroach-infested apartment in Harlem and modeled on the side. Not that I’m any great looker, but I was the right height, over six feet.     
9. I’ve seen some of those pix. You had the James Dean glower down pat.
CHRIS: James Dean is the man. All actors of my generation emulated him--the brooding stud with a furrowed brow, slick-backed hair, and smokin’ a butt.
10. You liked modeling?
CHRIS: Sure! The idea that someone deemed me good-looking enough to model was empowering. Plus, who wouldn’t love wearing brand-new clothes they can’t afford? I had a blast!  
11. And your financial situation--steady or shaky?
CHRIS: Finances were the bottom-line, an on-going issue. New York is an expensive place.
12. Thank God Broadway came calling with A Patriot of Me. Talk about exposure!   
CHRIS: Try fully exposed! A Patriot for Me starred Max Schell and was about homosexuality in the Austro-Hungarian Army. How’s that for light entertainment? I played a naked hustler/drag queen who almost kills Schell. Taking my clothes off got me kicked out of college, and then, it opened new career doors. Guess what was on the other side…
13. Dark Shadows?  
CHRIS: Bingo! Give that man a cigar! Yes, Dark Shadows. Linda Otto and Gerri Windsor, casting agents for Dan Curtis Productions, saw a matinee performance and asked me if I’d like to audition for Dan Curtis. They loved my deep-set blue eyes. My eyes? I was naked, and they loved my eyes?! 
14. Had you ever heard of Dark Shadows or Dan Curtis?
CHRIS: No, sir, but I was about to have a crash course in Dark Shadows 101! When Dan and I met, the universe tilted, and my life underwent a monumental change.
15. A good audition, I take it.
CHRIS: Nerve-wracking is more accurate! I mean, I’m sitting there in the waiting room, and they list off the names of the guys auditioning: Chris Walken, Jon Voigt, Tommy Lee Jones, and me. Oh, and Christopher Bernau. I read as Philip Todd, proprietor of an antique shop. Dan watched my audition and said, ‘save him for the thing in the box.’ Huh? I didn’t want to be a thing! And I didn’t want to be inside a box!
16. You weren’t in the box long. The thing--actually, a demonic Leviathan “seed”--
       went through four distinct stages: infant, child and smarmy teen, with the last, an
       adult Jeb Hawkes, large and in-charge!
CHRIS: I liked how they had Jeb gestate, kinda like a butterfly (laughs)!  I showed up fully-grown, with attitude firmly in place.
17. According to a 16 Magazine article back in the day, Jeb was originally named
CHRIS: Doesn’t have the same ring, does it? Derek, Jeb. Jeb, Derek. Nah!
18. On that first shooting day, what were your impressions?
CHRIS: Clouds of cigarette smoke everywhere! I’m shocked we all didn’t get lung cancer or Emphysema! Jonathan Frid introduced me to David (Quentin) Selby. Not only was Selby a good-looking guy, he had all these college degrees and seemed unaware of his greatness. I’m like, what the hell? Come on! Give some of that to me, pal, and I’ll run with it!
19. Were you flying by the seat of your pants, or did you have a firm hold on what Jeb
       was all about?
CHRIS: Rod, I didn’t have a clue! Mike Stroka advised me to go over the top, to throw subtlety out the window. I tried that, but they told me to slow down and be more melodramatic!
20. I do so enjoy Jeb’s theatricality. Whenever he freaked out, Dark Shadows rose to a
      whole new level.
CHRIS: I envisioned myself as a tragic Shakespearean hero. Great dialogue, and I got to tear apart scenery and swallow it, bit by bit. 

Post10:51 PM - Feb 13#7

Here's the rest of my interview: 

21. Basically, you were the entire Leviathan storyline.
CHRIS: A big responsibility, and it was all new to me. I’d never played to a camera just a foot away, looking directly into the lens. It was ‘learn as you go’, and there were mistakes in judgment on my part.  Sometimes, I’d call forth intense rage and craziness and hold nothing back. Other times, I’d be mellow to the extreme. There was no halfway point.  
22. Thanks to Jeb, you soon found yourself smiling from the pages of 16 Magazine--
      labelled as Dark Shadows’ newest hunk.
CHRIS: What would we have done without Gloria Stavers, the editor, to promote us? When you opened a 16 Magazine and saw a spread on Jonathan Frid, who was middle-aged and not exactly available, it did raise some eyebrows. But the publicity was free, and turning down free PR is a no-no.  
23. DS lore has it that you were so nervous, your heart visibly palpitated.
CHRIS: That’s true. I felt it bursting out of my chest, man! You can see my shirt thumping in several scenes. I was jacked up on adrenaline; the stress was unfucking believable. Just horrendous. One of our directors, Henry Kaplan, was downright mean, always yelling and very confrontational. He had me in tears many times.
24. What, you weren’t giving them what they wanted?
CHRIS: I tried my darndest, but expectations changed with the weather. Jeb Hawkes was a monster, the ‘thing in the box’ that grew from a tiny seed into this creature so horrid, it couldn’t be shown on-camera. Playing from the angle of a monster who might snap any moment struck me as the right way to go.
25. It wasn’t?
CHRIS: No. In mid-stream, the writers had Jeb to do a 180. He no longer embraced his monster origins.
26. Jeb exuded all of Dean’s moodiness, with the added edgy danger of a psychotic.
      Going from that to soft and sympathetic is an acting stretch.  
CHRIS: It was…but the fans spoke, so Jeb underwent an attitude adjustment. He fell in love, married Carolyn, and it looked like he’d beaten his Leviathan destiny. Until Angelique sent a shadow creature after him.
27. Oh, yeah, the shadow creature. She cut a shape from construction paper, and it came
      to life and chased Jeb.
CHRIS: Try projecting vulnerability and fright when you can’t even see what’s after you. Not easy (laughs)!
28.  Ever watch the show?
CHRIS: I forced myself, an excruciating ordeal. Aargh! By the time I played Gabriel, however, I was Christopher Pennock’s biggest fan (laughs)! 
29. Looking back, you must have fond memories of that period in your life. 
CHRIS: Rod, Dark Shadows was the most fun I’ve ever had as an actor. Sad thing is, I’ve been consistently disappointed since! None of my roles on episodic soaps like Somerset and General Hospital and The Guiding Light held a candle to the raw energy, the synergy, the wildness of those Dark Shadows days.
30. It was a heady time. Chaotic but infinitely memorable.  
CHRIS: Oh, yeah. So many cultural and social changes. We’ll never pass that way again, which is probably a good thing. I don’t think I could take a repeat of the 60s.
31. We’re survivors!     
CHRIS: Like remnants of an ancient age, battle-scarred and weary.
32. I wonder…are you a quick study? 
CHRIS: No, I’m not. Never have been. Memorizing lines is an obstacle I’ve faced from day one. I was recently diagnosed with ADD, which makes all the sense in the world. Now, at least, I understand what I’m dealing with.    
33. DS had the handy-dandy teleprompter, an actor’s best friend!
CHRIS: Thank God! I’m not classically trained, like Frid, Selby and Louis. Joan had been a golden age movie star! They were comfortable with the dialogue. Not me. Dark Shadows was a grand theatrical training ground.
34. I assume economics prevented the horrific Leviathan creature from ever being shown
CHRIS: You assume correctly! They did a good job of suggestion--using light, shadow and sound--and leaving the rest to imagination. I envisioned a creepy, multi-tentacled creature, kinda like in The Dunwich Horror (AIP, 1970), the movie that was out around the same time. Yummy!
35. Loved it when you summoned the demons of Hell to deal with pesky Barnabas 
      Collins.  Jeb meant business!
CHRIS: I gave those moments everything in my emotional arsenal. There was a lot of self-convincing going on off-camera. Lots of pep talks between me and the mirror. You’re Hamlet! Show these people what you’re made of! More. Mooore! Moooooore!
36. The famous line! And I believed every minute of it. 
CHRIS: Didn’t we all, man, didn’t we all.
37. Jeb tried holding onto his humanity by marrying Carolyn, but the die had been cast.
CHRIS: A case of too little, too late. The Leviathan storyline pushed the envelope too much, and ratings dipped. So did my fan mail.
38. In came Parallel Time!
CHRIS: Yep. Parallel Time came next. The two plots intertwined, for a while. It was planned very carefully.
39. Were you sketched out that Jeb’s days were numbered?
CHRIS: Absolutely. I was very insecure about my position with both Dark Shadows and Dan Curtis. One minute, everybody’s praising me, and the next, I’m on the outs. So, up to Widow’s Hill I trudged.
40. Where the ghost of Nicholas Blair and Skye Rumson put an end to Jeb Hawkes,
       ruining the Leviathan’s nefarious plans.  
CHRIS: Rumson tossed me to my death, and Carolyn saw it all go down in a dream. Jeb was dead…for good.
41. On Dark Shadows, nobody ever just woke up by opening their eyes and stretching.
      They bolted upright, while the music blared. Sometimes, they screamed bloody
CHRIS: Haha! You’re right! Astute observation.  
42. Parallel Time: an unused room in the dusty, locked off east wing of Collinwood, is
      a portal to another dimension. DS gave a nice nod to Rod Serling and The Twilight
      Zone with that one.
CHRIS: A definite Twilight Zone vibe going on there. Once Barnabas stepped over into parallel time, new possibilities and new characters presented themselves. Goodbye, Leviathans. Hello, Dr. Jekyll!
43. Cyrus Longworth and John Yaeger and the duality of Man’s nature! You tackled both
       roles with panache.  
CHRIS: Thank you. Cyrus Longworth was a young scientist in love with his assistant, Sabrina Stuart (Lisa Richards), and obsessed with the notion that man has two personalities: good and evil. But how to separate them? A bubbling potion is concocted, Cyrus drinks it and--wait for it--transforms into the evil John Yeager!
44. Who bore more than a passing resemblance to Jack Palance.
CHRIS: That was intentional. Palance had played both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Dan in a separate production.   
45. Any difficulty developing Cyrus and then Yaeger?
CHRIS: Very, very difficult! I’d been given a character outline on Cyrus before Jeb was even killed, and our director, Lela Swift, would tell me, ‘Cyrus is too much like Jeb! You’ve got to do something!’ I’d run into my dressing room, stare at myself in the mirror, and mutter, ‘David Niven, David Niven! You’re David Niven from Separate Tables!’
46. As in quiet and reserved? A proper gent?
CHRIS: More reserved than Jeb could ever possibly be. Cyrus represented sanity--calm, cool and collected--while John Yaeger was pure evil. Not enough evil for Henry Kaplan, though.
47. You were still butting heads with him?
CHRIS: The man simply refused to recognize my amazing acting abilities (laughs). He’d get on me about not being evil enough. “Can’t you play anyone but Jeb Hawkes? Yaeger’s evil, Chris. Eeeevilll! More, more, mooore!”  
48. Haha! Did you like the character make-up for Yaeger?
CHRIS: Well, the big nose didn’t do much for my ego. Vinnie Loscalzo, our gifted make-up man, toned it down, and Yaeger and I took off.     
49. There are some rightfully notorious bloopers involving Yaeger. He removes a
      picture and can’t hang it back up, and later, there’s that sticky wicket with his
CHRIS: It’s like performing live. Whenever a prop malfunctions, you go with it. The picture frame was nerve-wracking--it just would not hang on the nail correctly! But the cane gave me serious problems. They’d built two of them, one a dummy and the other with a hidden knife inside. My scene with Elizabeth Eis, I’m threatening to slice her neck and was supposed to use the dummy cane. But, noooo. They’d given me the genuine article, and I almost killed the poor girl!   
50. What was her reaction to all this?  
CHRIS: A good sport, until the camera stopped, and she freaked out. ‘What were you trying to do?’ she shrieked, ‘kill me, you armadillo?!’ I don’t blame her!
51. Yaeger and Longworth met their deserved ends, and when we next saw you, it was
       back in regular time, the fall of 1970, to be precise…as Sebastian Shaw, astrologer.
       Elizabeth (Joan Bennett) commissioned Sebastian to write her horoscope, and he
       uncovered a horrifying future for Collinwood: utter destruction!  
CHRIS: Thus began the build-up to 1840, with Gerard Stiles (James Storm) and Daphne Harridge (Kate Jackson).
52. Sebastian looked like Jeb’s twin. A tad perplexing! 
CHRIS: The writers played off our resemblance. Carolyn suspected that Jeb had come back to her. Was I really Jeb? Oooo! An element of mystery! Only a handful of Sebastian episodes transpired before they officially went to 1840.
53. Where you essayed a truly despicable character, the “crippled” Gabriel Collins.
CHRIS: Gabriel rocked! I did a variation of him in Night of Dark Shadows, too.
54. The film adaptations went for the jugular. Dan didn’t spare any blood!   
CHRIS: Dan was an ingenious innovator. Working with small budgets, guts, and chutzpah, he delivered like a pro, and of course, we gave them our all because we wanted to please him.
55. We caught a glimpse of you in House of Dark Shadows, during Carolyn Stoddard’s
CHRIS: My big film debut: a silent, grief-stricken pallbearer, seen for all of two minutes! I’m lugging this empty casket and thinking, why the hell am I freezing my ass off, doing a bit? They were spraying us with water! Upstate NY is not one of the Northeast’s hot spots in March, and standing under a fire hose accentuated the pain.  
56. Tell us about Gabriel.  
CHRIS: There were three Gabriels: 1840, Parallel Time 1841, and Night of Dark Shadows. 1840 was my favorite. Confined to a wheelchair and hating everyone! Mysterious killings abounded at Collinwood, and nobody suspected him because, hey, he couldn’t walk. I based the character on Geraldine Page in Tennessee Williams Sweet Bird of Youth.  Arrogant, sort of androgynous, incredibly creepy and fascinating. 
57. The big reveal with Louis Edmond as your dad rang a few dramatic gongs.
CHRIS: Louis raised the bar in our confrontation scene. He humiliated me, said that I was no Quentin, etc. Right in the middle of his tirade, I threw off the blanket covering my healthy legs and stood up. ‘Yes, father, haha, I can walk!’ I stumbled over and killed him!
58. What a dynamic scene! Sent a chill up my spine.
CHRIS: One of the rare moments when it all came together for me.    
59. The second Gabriel, from Parallel Time, lasted until the series’ unfortunate end.   
CHRIS: 1841 PT was, by far, the shortest chapter in Dark Shadows history. Boom! We were cancelled. No time to resolve anything, and I wouldn’t be coming back as a new character. I’d grown used to that challenge, that fun. Without it, depression overwhelmed me, and I gained a green slime of weight. Dan was aghast. ‘What the hell? You need to lose weight fast! We’re shooting ASAP!’ So, I got my lazy ass busy, lost fifty pounds and shot Night of Dark Shadows on the Hudson. One last gasp before Dark Shadows faded into the sunset.
60. Savages came right on the heels of NODS, an ensemble piece. Very strange. Not at
      all like the period dramas Ivory later directed.
CHRIS: James Ivory’s first American film. I can’t describe the plot--it defies description.
61. How about this: Savages is an experimental allegory about our modern-day society,
      where we’re headed, and where we’ve been?
CHRIS: Ok, that works. And I’m dressed in drag again (laughs)!  
62. You went on to a very successful acting career post-Dark Shadows, but let’s face it.
      DS is what you’re most loved for; you created iconic characters that have survived
      almost half a century.
CHRIS: DS is a warhorse; there’s never been anything like it. From original fans, like yourself, to people who’ve just discovered us, the cycle of re-birth continues. I can’t believe we’re about to celebrate its 50th anniversary! A bittersweet milestone.
63. I plan on attending the big Fest in Tarrytown.
CHRIS: Good. Sit with me.
64. Save me a seat! Oh, and I gotta compliment you, Chris, your comic book series--Fear
      And Loathing on Dark Shadows--is not only an eye-opener for its grand and
      revealing autobiographical content, but damn, dude, it’s one of the funniest things
      I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. You’re a superb caricaturist, with style and flair
      to spare!
CHRIS: Thanks, my friend. I appreciate those comments; cartooning is very close to my heart. I also drew a chapter called Fear and Loathing on Facebook!
65. Read that one, too. Gut-bustingly hilarious. What else do you have in your creative     
CHRIS: My imagination’s limitless. When inspiration hits, I will heed the call!
66. Lately, you’ve been collaborating with triple-threat director/writer/producer, Ansel
      Faraj--Dr. Mabuse II: Etiopomar and Madame LaSoeur.
CHRIS: Ansel contacted me with a part just before he started the first Dr. Mabuse, but I turned him down. He wrote back and asked if I’d be interested in Doctor Mabuse II: Etiopomar. My character would be ‘the Librarian,’ who goes up against Mabuse in a battle of the titans. It was a powerhouse role, and I signed on. Ansel’s single-handedly rejuvenated my acting career! After we shot Mabuse II, he approached me with a short film about The Madness of Roderick Usher, which led to a series called Theater Fantastique. For that, we did A Descent into a Maelstrom; The Murderous Mahones, starring Sally Kirkland, and our newest one, Madame LaSoeur.
67. The Murderous Mahones is a hoot!
CHRIS: Glad you liked it. I chewed the scenery and tore down the walls. Hysterical! We premiered at the Vista Theater, a beautiful old movie house in LA.
68. Madame LaSoeur was incredible--very atmospheric! So good to see you with your
      fellow DS alumni, Jerry Lacy, Lisa Richards, and Lara Parker. 
CHRIS: A lovely homecoming. The film’s dark and frightening, with some effective jump scares. 
69. Speaking of scares, the sun’s gone down. Notice all those lengthening shadows? Brrr.
CHRIS: Uh-oh!
70. The castle isn’t friendly after nightfall. What’s say we seek warmer climes and catch
       a bite? To eat, that is.   
CHRIS: Sounds good to me, buddy.
71. Before we do, let me say this: on behalf of our readers--old, new and in-between--
      thanks for all you’ve so freely given us. You’re one in a million, Chris.    
CHRIS: My, my, that’s quite a send-off. I appreciate it!  


Post4:13 AM - Feb 14#8

Chris Pennock.  Where do I begin?
What a volcano of a man, thunderous and electric - giving his every fiber to his performance, whether it was on stage, on Dark Shadows, in my blue screen garage, or in his endlessly memorable Facebook posts. Chris gave us his all, eager to entertain and captivate us within his whirlwind of drama.
As with all of the Dark Shadows family, they’ve always been there in my life, from the very beginning.
As a kid I loved imitating his line delivery in NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS: “for eternity brother! For eternityyyyyyyyyy!!!”
As a young man of 21 getting to direct him in my second theatrical feature - the mad librarian Professor Konratz in DOCTOR MABUSE ETIOPOMAR he brought a real sense of chaos and fire to our imaginary steampunk world, clashing against Jerry Lacy’s Mabuse and being what Chris was the best at being - a revolutionary.
“Up the revolution!!” he frequently shouted across Facebook.
Chris was there when I felt really low, and said let’s get to work, and thus began our horror anthology THEATRE FANTASTIQUE. Among the many characters he played for me He was Roderick Usher, he was one half of a Murderous Mahone, he was a ghostly sea captain; and he was gleeful in his work. He gave you everything from the first take, often wearing himself out but marching on in professional determination.
He always wanted to play a vampire and I wrote him a role opposite John Karlen - and I remember how much fun we all had that day laughing hysterically, with John and Chris one upping each other as to who could say the most raunchy politically incorrect remarks and having a ball.
He always wanted to play THE DUNWICH HORROR for me and we even have the script ready, a return to his Lovecraftian roots (Jeb from Dark Shadows hails from Lovecraftland) and I know his Lucifer in TODD TARANTULA would have been a memorably over the top character.
He introduced me to so many wonderful people, he took me to the Actors Studio and showed me around and I did learn from him, acting and how to treat actors (as I have learned so much from all of the Collins Family) but Chris was something else. He was fire and power but also so much love.  I know how much he loved Lynn and Tara and they were his world.
I know how much he loved his fans and the people around him who were only too eager to bask in his ecstatic hippie glory.  Everyone on my sets adored him and we all just gathered around and let him hold court. He gave a green slime about people, not just his fellow actors - but anyone and everyone who encountered him. You knew he truly cared. He wore his emotions like costumes, bold and in your face, but always honest.  
There’s so much more I need to say, that should be said - but right now it’s a bit difficult. How do you summarize your experience in life knowing someone tremendous?
You can’t.  
You just enjoy the memories you’ve been bestowed.
I’m going to miss this wild guy deeply, I’m going to miss writing him insane characters. And I’m going to miss his big big hugs.
The last day I saw Chris was when he came over in September to film his scenes for THE MOST HAUNTED HOUSE OF VENICE BEACH. I didn’t expect - nor could have anyone else - that his final cinematic monologue would be from Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST:
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind.
We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.”
Truly, no better way to close a curtain. Chris I love you - I miss you - filming won’t be the same without you — but we know you’re watching from the Theatre Fantastique.
And you may strip and streak through any performance you deem worthy.  God bless you, and thank you Chris, for being only too happy to work with me. I love you man.
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Red Gargon

Post1:08 PM - Feb 14#9

I can't add much to those wonderful remembrances by Rod and Ansel, but it's a very sad and unexpected passing.  Chris Pennock in many ways was DARK SHADOWS - if you want to show someone just one actor who encapsulated everything appealing about the show, capable of doing a young, handsome lead like Roger Davis, coiled-spring David Selby, unnerving Jonathan Frid or even scenery-devouring Grayson Hall, Chris Pennock nailed the vibe from the start.  Every moment a tsunami of madness, and every moment delicious.  I'm a big fan of the Big Finish audio continuation of DARK SHADOWS and he was as fantastically nutty as ever revisiting Sebastian Shaw and a never-seen-on the show "standard time" version of his parallel time character of Cyrus Longworth.  Rest in Peace, he will be greatly missed.


Post3:08 PM - Feb 14#10

Christopher Pennock was an energetic, larger-than-life, colorful presence the times I met him. He was usually joking and clowning and making outrageous statements. If someone else poked fun at Christopher, Christopher would laugh the loudest.  If no one made fun of Christopher, he’d make self-mocking, self-deprecating comments.
He could also be serious and reflective when necessary. One year at Lockwood-Mathews, Christopher was asked to watch with fans a screening of a Dark Shadows scene he’d appeared in with Louis Edmonds and to comment on the scene.  Christopher talked about what a great opportunity Dark Shadows was to chew the scenery and go way over the top.  “That’s what I was doing in this scene and Louis is still acting rings around me,” he humbly admitted.
Christopher said he had been teaching acting to classes of troubled youths, trying to help them channel their angst and energy into creative pursuits.  “They told me ‘come on, Chris, who’re you kidding?  You were never an actor.’  So I showed them some of my Dark Shadows episodes.  Afterwards they still told me ‘you were never an actor, Chris.’”
The first time I saw Christopher up close in person was at the 1995 Dark Shadows Fest.  As I posted on the CHFB 11 months ago, he came out of the hotel Men’s Room, followed a few seconds later by Michael Stroka. Both were smirking and looking furtive. I wondered if they’d just held a Leviathan World Domination planning meeting inside. My first concern was they'd left Werewolf-Chris shackled to the bathroom wall, with zombie-Sheriff Davenport guarding him.  Fortunately I spotted neither monster in the rest room.
The last time I saw Christopher Pennock in person was at the 50th Anniversary Dark Shadows Fest in 2016.  He thought one of the photos he was selling made him look like Bernie Sanders and he was signing those “Feel the Bern!”  He was also debuting his latest comic book “Buddhism for Wolves.”  He seemed concerned that there might be no interest in the comic book.  I don’t know why he was worried, since all his previous comic books had been very entertaining.  When I bought the new one, he asked me if I was a Buddhist.  I told him “no, but I’m a wolf.”  He laughed (a bit too) heartily at that.  I told him I knew “Buddhism for Wolves” would be great, because all his others were.
“Aw, you’re my friend for life!” he replied warmly.  As you know, whenever someone says that to you, it guarantees that they won’t know who you are the next time they see you.  In this case, I stopped by a few hours later to tell him I’d enjoyed reading “Buddhism for Wolves” and he neither recognized me as a recent customer nor as a friend for life.  But that didn’t matter.  I didn’t expect him to. 
At the same event, I also told Christopher I thought I’d spotted him in the original “The Night Stalker” TV movie, another early 1970’s Dan Curtis Production.  From Christopher’s reaction, I gleaned that other fans had asked him about the role, too. He told me that, no, he wasn’t in The Night Stalker.  I said whoever played the orderly / intern in the blood theft scene looked exactly like him.  Christopher waffled a bit and admitted: “well, maybe, I don’t know, possibly that could have been me…” but he still sounded skeptical.
At some point in the past quarter century, I’m sure I complimented Christopher on his ‘Tucker’s Witch’ episode, but I have no memory of any reaction on his part.  I know I never asked him about ‘Savages,’ because I’m not sure what I would’ve said.
One photo I took him to sign was of him and Nancy Barrett clowning around at Lyndhurst.  He had copied this photo for the cover of one of his Dark Shadows comic books.  Perhaps he thought no one knew that’s where the image came from, because he reacted: “Uh, oh!  Busted!” when I handed him the photo.  He had a similar faux-guilty reaction when I mentioned having seen his movie “Basic Training.”
I had numerous other Christopher sightings and encounters in between 1995 and 2016.  One beautiful day at Lyndhurst, I was standing outside the mansion talking to another Dark Shadows fan, when Christopher came bounding over to us.  In utmost sincerity and seriousness, he told us “you’ve got to go see the garden.  It’s so beautiful!” as though it was vitally important to him that we do so.  I assured Christopher I’d already wandered the garden that day and the woman I was talking to promised she’d check it out later.  I’d never imagined Christopher Pennock would be shilling for the Lyndhurst shrubbery, but he went bounding off to tell other fans of his magnificent floral discovery.
Another unusually serious Pennock moment occurred at Lockwood-Mathews.  Fans waiting in an extremely long line to enter (I was about 500 feet away) saw Christopher arrive, suddenly become livid with rage and start shouting at someone.  I couldn’t make out most of what he was saying, but a few four-letter words reached me loudly and clearly.  I suggested to those standing near me that maybe Christopher was recreating his John Yaeger character to entertain us while we waited.  Another fan with better hearing said that the contretemps was over something to do with the signing area for Christopher.  They weren’t providing him as much table space as promised… or something.
Christopher seemed so agitated and upset, we were concerned he might leave, but they must have smoothed it over as he participated in the event after all.  As it turned out, Christopher did recreate his John Yaeger character at Lockwood-Mathews in a planned blackout skit.  Christopher as Cyrus Longworth stood behind a lab table with some chem lab items on it and said “let’s do this thing one more time.”  He drank the potion and contorted around, eventually dropping out of sight and then returning as Yaeger.  It was fun and funny to see him playing the characters again. (Other blackout skits that evening featured Terry Crawford, Diana Millay and Denise Nickerson riffing on their Dark Shadows characters.)
I’d long wondered about the Dark Shadows scene where Gabriel Collins first reveals he can walk.  Had Christopher known in advance Gabriel was just pretending to need a wheelchair? or did he not find out until he got the script in which his ability to walk was revealed?  One afternoon in the Lyndhurst parking lot, I asked Christopher which was the case.  “I knew ahead of time,” he said.  Though I don’t see it mentioned in any of the biographies, at some point Christopher must have lived in Ossining, NY—just a brief drive from Lyndhurst.  He told the fans in the Lyndhurst parking lot he wanted to try to find the house he used to live in there.
One evening when Christopher was sitting alone at his merchandise table and everyone was ignoring him, I figured this was a good opportunity to ask him about working with John Harkins.  Harkins was one of Dark Shadows’ most diverse and underappreciated supporting players.  I’ve never heard anyone ask or talk about him.  Christopher had a lot of scenes with Harkins, so I figured he’d be the one to ask.
“Oh, he was great to work with,” Christopher told me.  “Very professional; always prepared. He’d come up with little ideas to improve the scenes.  I’d suggest something and he’d go along with it.  I really don’t know much about his personal life off the set.  For all I know, he enjoyed coffee enemas.”
I told Christopher I’d read on-line that Harkins had passed away recently, but had found no reliable confirmation. “Yes, it’s true.  He’s dead.  Nobody lives forever.  Everyone dies sooner or later…”
Christopher‘s mood and tone of voice had made such an abrupt shift to the morbid and melancholy, that I tried to lighten the situation by telling him cheerily “I’ll live forever, if you will,” but it didn’t help.
I was sorry to learn this week that he didn’t take me up on my offer.


Post4:05 PM - Feb 14#11

Love your Chris memories!