Dark Shadows may be more fresh in audience’s minds as the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp remake from 2012, but the original soap opera the film was based on is a legend in the daytime television world. Nancy Barrett, among other cast members, took up multiple roles to get the supernatural melodrama through its short reign, but where did she go once Dark Shadows got the figurative stake to the heart?
Born close to the site of a much later vampire infestation in Shreveport, Louisiana in October of 1941, Nancy’s family would flee the future home of True Blood for Oklahoma not long after her birth. Continuing her path of migration, she finished high school and moved to Waco, Texas for college (talk about bad futures) before meeting agent and future husband Ralph Pine and jetting off to New York, New York not long after they married. She would act for a couple of years in local commercials and ads before landing bit parts in anthology dramas and crime procedurals before shooting her shot at bigger things.
Oh no, vampires!
Almost immediately she would hit the mark after auditioning for a new, darker-themed soap opera about a cursed family and vampire, Dark Shadows. While she would be cast as Carolyn Stoddard right off the bat in 1966, everyone on the show ended up playing more than one role at some point, with Nancy filling many more roles throughout the historic drama’s run.
Unfortunately, the beginning of Dark Shadows was the end of Nancy’s marriage to Ralph Pine in the same year. Not much time was lost though before she began a relationship with her Dark Shadows co-star David Ford, who made recurring appearances as various characters throughout the first two years of the show. The two would marry in 1967, but eventually divorce in 1969. Decidedly not groovy for the summer of love.
Her career on Dark Shadows would continue, with a small presence in the New York drama scene as well as film with two feature film adaptations of the show near the end of its run in 1971. While Dark Shadows was infamously shortlived for a soap opera, all things considered, Nancy Barrett wasted no time in moving on to a long-running medical soap in the same year called… The Doctors. Come on, even in 1963 when the show started.
Not a Real Doctor
She would star in 112 episodes of The Doctors over one year on the show, leading in 1972 to work on [REDACTED DUE TO LIMITED INTERNET HISTORY]. No, really, she took about a four-year break before popping up on one episode of the miniseries The Adam’s Chronicles and a nine-episode stint on the soap opera Ryan’s Hope in 1976 then disappeared for another decade.
Her final film credit to date is in the 1986 bayou-western Belizaire the Cajun, filmed near her birthplace of Shreveport, Louisiana. While the film received warm critical reviews as a family-friendly film, but not fantastic financially as it was rather small-scale in production and marketing at the time. Nancy Barrett would take her leave from screens there, only occasionally popping up in theater or conventions for Dark Shadows lately at the age of 81.
She would also mark a return to her character of Carolyn in a series of audio drama episodes of Dark Shadows along with other former cast members. While it was certainly different than her stage-acting presence, the series was still a fun nostalgia trip.
What is Nancy Barrett Doing Now?
In 1980 Nancy would remarry to a renowned psychologist at the time, Harold Caplan, and they would remain married until he died in 1998. While it would be a sad end to a happy marriage, she would find love again with dentist Stuart Leichter in 2005. Unfortunately, he would pass away in 2017, with Nancy remaining a single widow since.
While she has been retired for quite some time, she did make an appearance in 2020 for a Dark Shadows reunion over Zoom (the unsung workhorse of early COVID-19) during the brief period of desperately trying to fill television air time. The cast had a joyful time though, and it was another thing to distract from the dumpster fire outside everyone’s window at the time.
While she was in her late seventies at the time, she still appeared just as youthful as ever alongside her former co-stars (the still living ones, at least. Or was it?) joking and laughing about the great times they had working on the spooky soapy supernatural spectacle of a show.
These days Nancy is relaxing, as anyone in their eighties should be! As with most people her age, she’s not on any form of social media and doesn’t do interviews often, instead opting to just see her later years through in blissfully unaware peace instead of the ever-expanding hellscape that has become modern life.