As a student at Yale, Frid starred in the premiere of William Snyder's play A True And Special Friend. Classically trained, Frid spent thirty years in live theater, starring in the first productions at the Williamstown Theater and stage productions in Canada, England and the United States, though occasionally working in television.
Barnabas Collins: For most men, time moves slowly, oh so slowly, they don't even realize it. But time has revealed itself to me in a very special way. Time is a rushing, howling wind that rages past me, withering me in a single, relentless blast, and then continues on. I've been sitting here passively, submissive to its rage, watching its work. Listen! Time, howling, withering!
Frid is best known for the role of vampire Barnabas Collins on the original gothic cult television serial Dark Shadows, which ran from 1966 to 1971. He also starred in the movie House of Dark Shadows. Frid had made plans to move to the West Coast to pursue a career as an acting teacher when he won the role that ultimately made him a household name. Frid explained on his website that he had just barely entered his apartment as the phone call from his agent came informing him that he won the role as Barnabas Collins. Frid agreed to accept the role after being told it was a short-term one that would provide him with extra cash while he prepared to move. As the character's popularity soared, Frid scrapped those plans.
Frid starred in Dial M For Murder while the television series was still appearing. After Dark Shadows ended, he starred as Thomas Becket in Murder in the Cathedral, and in Wait Until Dark. Frid had previously played the role of a psychiatrist on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns.
In 1973, Frid appeared in the TV movie The Devil's Daughter starring Shelley Winters, and the following year starred in Oliver Stone's directorial debut, Seizure (aka Queen of Evil). He took time off from acting and returned to Canada, reviving his stage career in 1978.
Frid began performing readings at Dark Shadows fan conventions in the 1980s, and while developing ideas for what would be three critically acclaimed one-man shows, Frid took on the role of Jonathan Brewster in the Broadway revival of Arsenic and Old Lace. The play went on a national tour breaking box-office records, which gave Frid the opportunity to appear on radio and talk shows to tell about his theater shows and long stage career.
In 1994, having spent 40 years based in New York City, Frid retired and returned again to Canada. He continued to do one-man shows for charities in both Canada and the United States. In 2000, he co-starred in Mass Appeal which enjoyed a successful, limited run in Hamilton and at the Stirling Theater Festival in Canada.
Frid attended Dark Shadows conventions in New York in August 2007, Burbank, California, in July 2008, and Elizabeth, New Jersey, in August 2009. In 2010, he returned to the role of Barnabas for the first time in 39 years in a Dark Shadows audio drama, The Night Whispers. Along with former Dark Shadows castmates Lara Parker, David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott, Frid spent three days at Pinewood Studios in June 2011 filming a cameo appearance for the Tim Burton film.
To quote Jonathan Frid, "I have this cozy house here and I get three pensions from the States. I've done nicely.Good Night Mr. Frid