Dark Shadows Actor John Karlen Dies At 86

Actor and Primetime Emmy winner John Karlen, best known for appearing on the original Dark Shadows series and Cagney & Lacey, has passed away. The actor died on Wednesday, January 22 at the age of 86.

The Dark Shadows News Twitter account first revealed Karlen's passing, writing: "John Karlen was a brilliant, instinctive actor, who thrived in the arena of live TV in a way that few managed. While other performers on #DarkShadows betrayed nervous tics and hurried rehearsal time, John inhabited his characters effortlessly and was simply electric where other actors stumbled and halted, John Karlen simply soared."

Karlen got his start in television in the 1950s, but gained notoriety for his work on Dark Shadows where he played multiple roles across the 180 episodes in which he appeared. The main role that Karlen filled was that of Willie Loomis, the character that first came into contact with and was under the spell of Barnabas Collins. Karlen went on to appear as three other characters (Carl Collins, Desmond Collins, and Kendrick Young) in the series' many flashbacks.

The actor went on to appear in countless other television shows including Cagney & Lacey, where he starred in 110 episodes as Harvey Lacey, husband to Tyne Daly's Mary Beth Lacey. Karlen would go on to win the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Primetime Emmy award for his work on the series. He would also reprise the role in four TV movies that continued the series after its conclusion.

Karlen notable appeared in bit parts across countless TV shows in his decades-long career with stints on shows like Murder, She Wrote (three times!), Hill Street Blues, Fame, Mad About You, Starsky & Hutch, and The Rockford Files


He is survived by his son Adam.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)