Hoffman/Lambert: The Doctor and The Vampire
Hoffman/Lambert: The Doctor and The Vampire
By Jessica Dwyer
Vampires are attractive for many reasons. There’s the immortality aspect, the power that comes along with it. In some cases they dress really well and have a lot of money due to having lived for so damn long. But in even more cases there’s the tragic “I need to save him/her” aspect.
I’m going to focus on the women here who find themselves drawn to the dark side when it comes to these creatures of the night. We are legion and that’s 100 percent fact. But there are a lot of people who like to say that the woman who are enamored of vampires are just complete idiots or unrealistic. That the characters that find themselves in love with them are all heaving bosom daughters of lords. They are themselves some sort of half breed vampire/fairy/insert supernatural creature here freak of nature that finds another outsider in the vampire. Or they are a completely clueless teenage girl who for some reason is irresistible to the vampire.
But in the annals of vampire entertainment there are two very different women who fell in love with two vampires. These weren’t young pining females. These were mature and smart women who were for the most part, unrequited in their feelings. Yet they stood by their vampires and proved that loyalty and love were admirable and that intelligent, strong women could also like the dark side of life. Julia Hoffman and Natalie Lambert were both doctors who discovered that vampires were real. Each of them would fall in love with their respective discovery. Each would also try to find a way to cure their vampire of the curse that plagued them using science.
Years apart in terms of airing on television, Hoffman and Lambert were more alike than not, and yet both of them were rarities in the realm of vampire storytelling….a world not known for having much in the way of originality that often. Even more amusing is the fact that both of these characters began life written as males. Hoffman was changed before airing of the episode of Dark Shadows in which we meet her to be tailored to the late, great Grayson Hall.
Natalie Lambert’s character was actually played by actor Robert Harper in the 2 hour made for TV movie of Nick Knight starring Rick Springfield. The name was Dr. Jack Brittington at that point. It wasn’t until CBS’s picked up Forever Knight as part of CrimeTime after PrimeTime that the role of the kind coroner who is helping the vampire detective to try and become human was retooled for actress Catherine Disher.
Both characters were isolated due to being dedicated to their work. Hoffman a doctor of psychiatry and Lambert a forensic coroner who worked long hours. They were also each in very male dominated fields. Hoffman was almost rude in her reactions to many people. She had a stony personality, a detachment no doubt from the years she’d spent working with patients that had emotional trouble. But when she discovers vampire Barnabas Collins a whole new world is open to her. He represents a way to prove herself to everyone. He needs her more than any other person has ever needed her. He’s a mystery that shouldn’t exist but he does. He’s also overflowing with emotions that are out of control; when he rages he rages, when he loves he loves, and when he hates he hates passionately. How could Julia Hoffman not eventually fall in love with a man such as that to the point that she risks her life to help him and keep him safe….even going so far as to help him when she knows that he loves another.
Natalie Lambert’s relationship with Detective Nick Knight was the same way. Nat, as Nick called her, was a typical modern career woman with a cat at home and no social life to speak of. Just as Julia did, when she discovered the handsome blonde and heroic vampire on her morgue slab that night (after he nearly died saving someone) she’s lost. She starts working with him to cure him and he creates a career as a police officer to be near her as well as work towards repaying his debt for his misdeeds through the centuries. In their story though it isn’t that Nick doesn’t love her in return…it is for her safety that Nick will not reveal the truth of his love for her. And so it is that they only have a deep friendship until the very last episode…when things go badly. It is interesting to note that Sam Hall, Grayson’s husband said that after the events in Dark Shadows that Julia and Barnabas finally did admit their love for one another and left he country to keep Angelique’s curse at bay. Viewers of Dark Shadows know that Julia certainly earned that happy ending. Sadly, we can’t say that Natalie got a happy one.
I feel that Natalie and Julia deserve some recognition for what they represent within the realm of the vampire. Many female fans that I know of vampires and certainly these two shows related more with Nat and Julia than any other characters in these series or any others. They were real women. They weren’t perfect, they weren’t angels or some damsels in distress. They were smart (evilly cunning in Julia’s case sometimes) fearless, and they were loyal.
I think it’s time they got their due, their happy ending. Because even if the Nick and Barnabas weren’t quite smart enough to figure out how good they had it with them, we do.
(other Grayson Hall Blog-A-Thon links for Dark Shadows fans)
The Collinsport Historical Society
Jonathan Frid was the face of Dark Shadows, but Grayson Hall was it’s soul. Even though nobody ever made action figures or board games baed on her characters, Dark Shadows wouldn’t have been the same without her. Plus fan art, vintage newspaper clippings about Hall’s stage career and more throughout the day!
The Performance Art of Grayson Hall: Life On Two Levels
Using lines from her Oscar-nominated film Night of the Iguana as thematic bookends, Frank Jay Gruber discusses the differences between Grayson Hall’s film and television performance styles, and why each is distinct and memorable.
The Collins Foundation
“If you have to choose between real and interesting, choose interesting.” According to Patrick McCray, Grayson Hall gives us both in Dark Shadows.
The Drawing Room (Home of the Dark Shadows podcast)
On the latest installment of The Drawing Room podcast, Chrissy recites her poem, Ode to Hoffman, 1967, which celebrates Grayson Hall’s contribution to the early episodes of Dark Shadows. The poem is also available to read at the website.