It was so silly and so scary and so unpredictable, and at the same time, you could not watch a show that you didn't see somebody make a mistake, so it was a howl. And everybody that watched it either got scared, or they could be sensually or sexually aroused or they could giggle. It broke all the rules.

Lara Parker (Angelique on Dark Shadows)

Daytime soap operas have generally been a milieu for bored housewives. But in 1966 a show appeared on American television that soon grabbed the nation's attention -- Dark Shadows. It started innocuously with pretty dismal ratings, yet near the end of its first season, and impending cancellation, it started to make a little noise by adding a couple of supernatural characters -- ghosts.

Television isn't rocket science; networks give the viewers what they want. In this case the writers started adding witches, and werewolves, and - soon to be cult star - Barnabas Collins, a vampire (played by Shakespearean actor Jonathan Frid). The show became a gothic novel on drugs. Perhaps that was its appeal -- this *was* the 60's. In any case, the show took off. Soon it was drawing 20 million viewers.

Many of these avid fans were teenagers or younger; rushing home from school to see the show. And though it only aired for 5 years, Dark Shadows has remained alive in one form or another for more than 30 years. It spawned a series of popular books, two comic book series, a newspaper comic strip, two feature films, and a revival TV series. And even today, fans meet at annual conventions called Dark Shadows Festivals--which draw thousands of attendees.