- Willie Loomis
Willie Loomis was a character on the ABC-TV gothic horror soap opera, "
Dark Shadows", which aired from 1966 until 1971. The character was first played by actor James Hallfor a total of four episodes, who was subsequently replaced by John Karlenbeginning with episode #206. Karlen continued to play the role of Willie Loomis for the remainder of the series. He appeared as Willie Loomis in a total of 106 episodes.
Willie was a drifter, and a friend of fellow conman, Jason McGuire (
Dennis Patrick). Following Jason's lead, Willie became an unwelcome houseguest at the distinguished New England mansion known as Collinwood, and mooched off the Collins family while Jason planned a blackmailing scheme against the Collins family matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard( Joan Bennett).
In 1967, Willie Loomis was searching for the legendary Collins family jewels at the Eagle Hill Cemetery outside of
Collinsport, Maine. His foraging through the Collins family library, and from answers to questions he posed to the housekeeper Mrs. Johnson, and the youngest Collins, David, ultimately brought him to the family mausoleum. There, the inquistive and jewel-happy Willie discovered a coffinsealed with locks and chains. Suspecting the jewels were locked inside, he pried the chains loose, but upon doing so, released a vampire named Barnabas Collins( Jonathan Frid). Barnabas attacked Willie, turning him into his unwilling slave and manservant.
That same year, Barnabas set his sights on a local woman named
Maggie Evans. He kidnapped her and would have turned her into his immortal bride, if not for the brave efforts of Willie Loomis. Willie placed an anonymous phone call to Maggie's friend, Victoria Winters, revealing the missing girl's location. Maggie was rescued, and Barnabas blamed Willie for this, but could never prove it. In spite of this, however, he beat Willie severely with his cane. Later, the marks on Willie's body led Jason to suspect that something was going on that Willie wasn't telling him about. Jason could not resist the thought that there were jewels and riches Willie wasn't sharing, so he broke into the Old House at sunset, and Barnabas, waking up, found Jason and killed him. Later, Barnabas forced Willie to bury Jason with his own hands.
Meanwhile, he forced Willie to help him with his dastardly plans to reclaim Maggie and turn her into his vampire bride, and beat Willie for every little mistake. He also psychologically abused him by threatening him with painful death, or worse. At one point, Barnabas offered to make Willie a vampire, but Willie, knowing the evils of vampirism, refused. Willie lived in constant terror for his own life, and horror at what evil Barnabas was perpetrating on his own family, and the village of Collinsport. He had to spend his waking hours guarding Barnabas' coffin while at the same time make renovations to the Old House without benefit of electricity. It is interesting to note that he never got credit for his hard work, except once, when he received a compliment from Victoria Winters, as Barnabas took all the credit.
Other tasks included: babysitting the monster Adam, digging up dead bodies, stealing paintings out of Collinwood, running errands to Bangor and Clearwater in all sorts of weather, lying to everyone for Barnabas, and other equally disturbing tasks.
The conditions under which Willie Loomis lived appeared to be quite primitive. For example, everyone else on the show (where it always seemed to be verging on winter) had a coat, but Willie did not. He only had a light windbreaker. And the question of whether there was indoor plumbing in the Old House has never been satisfactorily resolved. In addition, there is a continuing debate over what type of vehicle Willie drove. Some say it's a 1955 white Chevy truck.
Sheriff George Patterson (originally played by
Dana Elcar) and local physician Doctor Dave Woodward (played by Robert Gerringer) suspected that there was an evil monster afoot in Collinsport and used Maggie as bait to set a trap for her mysterious stalker. In yet another effort to warn Maggie against Barnabas' intentions, Willie sprung the Sheriff's trap, whereupon Patterson's deputies shot him five times in the back, critically injuring Willie. He was taken to the Collinsport Hospital in a comatose state, and, with the encouragement of Barnabas Collins and Dr. Hoffman (who spread aspersions about his character), was diagnosed as mentally ill, and later framed by Barnabas (who planted Maggie's ring in Willie's room) for the kidnapping of Maggie. Under the supervision of Dr. Julia Hoffman, he was transferred to Wyndcliffe Sanitarium, from which he was released in 1968, a changed and broken man, haunted by nightmares he could not understand. Later, Maggie came to know, as did her father, Sam Evans, that Willie was not responsible for what happened to Maggie.
When he returned to Collinsport, Willie once again found himself in the service of Barnabas Collins. By this time however, a scientist named Dr. Eric Lang had developed a cure for Barnabas' vampirism. Willie was shocked to discover that Barnabas was now completely human; however, the cure was worse than the disease, and Barnabas soon reverted to type. Still somewhat fearful of vampire, Willie continued to exhibit all the signs of suffering from the
Stockholm Syndrome(a term which had not yet been coined, but had been observed in humanity for years). During the experiements to build a mate for the moster Adam, Barnabas wanted to use Maggie's essence to inhabit the new body, which was made of parts that Willie was forced to dig up. Willie really did kidnap Maggie at this point, but only in order to save her from a horrible fate Barnabas' hands. She eventually escaped from Willie and appeared at the Blue Whale, much to Barnabas' dismay that she would reveal his secret other life. Dr. Hoffman was able to hypnotize Maggie into forgetting what happened to her, and the real villain, Barnabas, was never suspected of being the mastermind behind her suffering.
When the 1897 story arc started, Willie left Collinwood, where he reportedly worked at Windcliffe and another hospital, doing, one supposes, maintenance and handyman type work. Then he came back to Collinwood and brought with him a finance, Roxanne, who he professed to love, and who he wanted to marry. At one point, he was forced to stake Megan Todd, a vampire that Barnabas had created and could not control. Then, due to pressures at Collinwood, and because he did not want his beloved to be exposed to the insanity and danger that abounded at Collinwood, he gave her up and sent her away. He remained at the original family estate with Barnabas and Dr. Hoffman, and was forced to go to great lengths to make sure that Barnabas' sordid past remained Collinsport’s best-kept secret.
House of Dark Shadows
In 1971, John Karlen returned to the role of Willie Loomis for the feature film "
House of Dark Shadows". The movie loosely adapted plotlines that first aired in episodes 210-230 of the original series, but with the added benefit of a higher budget, which allowed the production crew the ability to film on location rather than on a studio lot. As in the TV show, Willie is responsible for discovering the chained coffin of Barnabas Collins and setting the hungry vampire loose upon Collinsport. He suffers much the same fate as the TV version of Willie, and in the end, is the hero who dies protecting and saving Maggie Evans. Willie's character also appeared in the "House of Dark Shadows" novelization by Marilyn Ross. It is the only time that the Loomis character ever appeared in any of the Ross era novels.
In 1991, Dan Curtis Productions revived the "Dark Shadows" series as a one-hour weekly night time program on
NBC. The character of Willie Loomis was reimagined, this time played by actor Jim Fyfe. Fyfe's version of Loomis proved to be an exaggerated version of the character as first defined by Karlen. He was often seen tripping over his own feet, or shuffling nervously, or loping about with his arms flailing wildly above his head. Like Karlen, Fyfe's Loomis spoke with a perpetual stammer – a quirk that has practically become a trademark for the character. This version of Willie found personal redemption much more rapidly than the original, and by the fourth episode of the series, he became Barnabas Collins' trusted and loyal confidante (a relationship never achieved by Karlen's Loomis). Jim Fyfe appeared as Willie Loomis in all thirteen episodes of the revival series.
Dan Curtis Productions (working alongside John Wells Productions) filmed a one-hour television pilot for what was to become a modern incarnation of the Dark Shadows series. The series was originally intended to air on the
WBnetwork occupying the time slot vacated by the cancelled Joss Whedonseries, "Angel". However the pilot was rejected and the series was never produced. Actor Matt Czuchry was originally slated to play the role of Willie Loomis, and did an excellent job creating a character who was both self-sure and street wise, while at the same time, innocent of the evil that was Barnabas Collins.
* Actor John Karlen played several characters for the "Dark Shadows" franchise, including Carl Collins, William Hollingshead Loomis, Desmond Collins, Kendrick Young, and Alex Jenkins.
House of Dark Shadows
Night of Dark Shadows
* [http://darkshadows.wikia.com/wiki/Willie_Loomis Willie Loomis at Collinwiki]
* [http://www.tv.com/dark-shadows/show/2374/summary.html?q=Dark%20Shadows&tag=search_results;title;0 Dark Shadows at TV.com]
* [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0439482/ John Karlen entry at IMDB]
* [http://www.collinwood.net/cast/karlen.htm John Karlen page at Collinwood.net]
* [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0299474/ Jim Fyfe entry at IMDB]
* [http://www.darkshadows.com/main.html Dark Shadows home page]
* [http://www.collinwood.net/new/ Dark Shadows 2004: Just the Facts]
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