Yo Grue-Lings Listen Up,
Today’s interview is very special. I’m going to take you back in time to one of the most eerie creepiest popular tv series of all time called Dark Shadows. We are going back in time to the 1960’s. Dark Shadows was a show that was so popular in the 60’s. People would be glued to their tv sets to watch this show. Everything about this show is magical and just draws you in episode after episode and even had a couple movies as well. No, i’m not talking about that really horrible remake that wast just made.
Barnabas was the most popular character on Dark Shadows, but so was an amazing performance by this young 10 year old girl named Sharon Smyth Lentz who played the role of the very popular ghost girl Sarah Collins.
Sharon still acts and does appearences and conventions for all her Dark Shadows fans. Sharon has a film in pre-production that she will star in as Grandma Watkins in Shadows of the Forest. Grue-Lings welcome Sarah Collins herself, the great Sharon Smyth Lentz:
HELLTER: What was it like working with Jonathan Frid…Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows fame?
Sharon: Jonathan was a serious stage actor, with a great sense of humor and command of an audience.
He was ever the professional, while at the same time able to laugh at himself and put others at ease.
Especially me! I was 10 yrs old at the time, and there were times when I was anxious about forgetting lines or
doing something wrong, and he was always quick to give me advice in a very gentle, fatherly way.
He was a large man, with a sometimes booming voice…but, he never scared me, not even when he was in
HELLTER: Yeah, he seemed like a really nice guy. How did you learn of the audition for Sarah Collins, and how did you secure the role?
SHARON: At that time, I had been doing modeling, voiceovers, print ads, and commercials for almost 5 yrs…
so I was very used to the auditioning process, and it was just “another one”. The first audition consisted
of many little girls of all shapes and sizes. The second audition was just me…and one other girl. I don’t know this
for sure, but I think I may have got the part because I looked more like a “Collins”. She was blond, I was dark haired
with freckles. Like I said, not sure…just feel that way.
HELLTER: I am glad you got the role, because you were amazing at it. For those who have never seen the original Dark Shadows, or know who Sarah Collins is, can you give us an overview?
SHARON: Dark Shadows was the first Gothic soap opera, it ran from 1966 to 1971 and there are over 1200 episodes.
There were love stories, family secrets, ghosts, werewolves, witches, vampires, etc. First daytime series to deal in
the supernatural…and people LOVED it! Barnabas Collins was the main character that most were drawn to, because
he was a reluctant vampire. He hated what he had become and what he had to do to survive, but he had no choice.
Most related to his vulnerability, his being forced to keep a BIG secret, his being an outsider…misunderstood.
I was his little sister, Sarah, who died at 10 yrs old…and has returned to admonish him for his bad deeds.
HELLTER: I love this show. My mom is a huge fan and from her, I found out about this great tv series. What drew you to the character of Sarah, and what drew you to the Dark Shadows show?
SHARON: In all honesty, I had never heard of Dark Shadows, it was just another audition.
Wasn’t I a fortunate little girl?!
HELLTER: Yes you were (laughs). What was your favorite scene, or favorite moment, while on Dark Shadows?
SHARON: Hard to pick just one, but I would have to say, my dying scene. It was the last time we see little Sarah.
You see, I started on the show as a ghost…then, they went back in time to 1795 and explained how
she died. It was an intense scene, very intimate, not one you easily forget.
HELLTER: I can imagine, wow. Who was your favorite character on Dark Shadows, and why?
SHARON: Obviously, Barnabas…Jonathan Frid, but I also thoroughly enjoyed Willie…John Karlen, and
Ben…Thayer David. These men were bigger than life to me when I was a little girl, but they always
impressed me how funny they were and how they spoke to me with the respect you give to a fellow
actor and not like a bother.
HELLTER: You and Barnabas are mine. My mom told me that her and her brother and the kids around there street would all run in the house
every day to watch Dark Shadows. Why do you think the show was so popular back the, and still is today?
SHARON: There are actually bumper stickers available that say “I ran home from school to watch Dark Shadows!”.
I think that’s great! I have heard this SO many times! As I said earlier, there was nothing like this on
daytime t.v. This was definitely not your average soap opera! It was mesmerizing, it was suspenseful,
it had dark moody music, and a little bit of scare to it. Back then you couldn’t binge watch, you had to
watch it every day to keep up with the many twists and turns in the story line. And waiting from Friday afternoon
until Monday afternoon, was torture…they LOVED it! Even first time viewers now, as adults, become lost in
the fascinating story lines, and curious characters. It doesn’t have the slickness of Hollywood, or the enhancement
of CGI…and in this case, that’s a good thing. It’s like watching live theater…anything could happen, and you don’t
want to miss it.
HELLTER: Yeah I know what you mean. In Dark Shadows, many actors returned to play different characters on the show, why did you only get to play Sarah?
SHARON: Well, I don’t know for sure, but some have guessed it was because of my growth spurt. Hard to explain why a ghost
was changing so much so quick. Believe me, I would have loved to have the chance to explore another character.
HELLTER: Oh, I see. Do you still talk to any of the cast from Dark Shadows?
SHARON: Yes! We may not see each other often because of living on opposite coasts, or busy work schedules…
but when we do get together we are family…Collins family.
HELLTER: I’m glad to hear you still keep in touch. That’s great. Why did you decide to retire from acting so early, at age 13?
SHARON: To be honest, I became a miserable teen who no longer wanted to smile when I was told to,
or cooperate when I just didn’t feel like it. Hormones…bad attitude. I just wanted to hang out with my
friends, so my parents didn’t push, and said ‘fine’.
HELLTER: Like most teens want to do. Hang out with their friends. That’s understandable. After all those years of being retired from acting, what drew you to come back in the acting world for your role in On A Country Road?
SHARON: I think that once you are bitten by the acting bug, it may hibernate…but it is always there.
In my late 20’s, early 30’s, I had a blast doing community theater… and I have some friends in the
independent film industry, that encouraged me to get involved after I turned 50 yrs old. Go figure,
it’s a lot of fun.
HELLTER: I am glad to see you made your return to the acting world. Was it difficult being a child actor?
SHARON: This is a question that I have gotten MANY times, and I like answering it…because I think it is very important.
My experience was great! No horror stories. I was in the business from 5yrs old until 13yrs old, and I had
many, many, exciting and educating experiences. I met lots of people, and was always accompanied by my mother.
I was a very ‘normal’ kid…my parents made sure of it. No one ever pushed me to do anything that I didn’t want to,
and I had so much fun!
HELLTER: Thank you for joining us today on Gruemonkey, such a honor for us here.
SHARON: Thank you, my pleasure.
CHECK OUT SHARON’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS: