Author Topic: Memories of Thayer David  (Read 953 times)

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Offline Gothick

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Memories of Thayer David
« on: March 06, 2017, 10:17:54 PM »
Fans, last Saturday was Thayer David's birthday, and his nephew Jonathan posted these memories on the Thayer David fan club Facebook page.  I thought those who don't do Facebook might enjoy reading this because it is such a vivid portrait of an actor many of us just adore.

Best, G.

From Jonathan Vincent on Thayer David:

I think of all his roles, he liked playing Professor Stokes the most. It was the character that was closest to his real personality (he was my uncle). The mid-Atlantic/British accent was real and he didn't stray from it. A product of the time, and the theater. He also liked playing the villains. It's too bad he died before Nero Wolfe got past the pilot stage. It was picked up... by ABC if I recall. He was really happy about it, and he was going to remarry his ex wife, Valerie French. As it is now, so was it in the 60s and 70s that even many famous actors used to have to work very hard to piece a life together. Most of his time outside of DS, he was from play to play or character parts in films. It took a toll on him. He was a big guy, and liked rich savory things, like a pipe, red wine, and hearty food. He died peacefully in his NYC apartment in an armchair, while reading a book. His home was museum-like. Mostly Victorian portraits, canes, and gothic furniture. I've enjoyed hearing his fans express satisfaction that he really was very much like his screen persona. In fact, he often ad libbed or rewrote his dialog on DS for accuracy, and because those were a lot of lines to memorize over night. He liked to talk, but was often lost in thought, as well. When he was at our family home in Massachusetts, he liked to unwind in relative solitude in his room. It was usually after he came off a project, and he was tired. After a few days, he'd emerge for Sunday dinner and fascinate all of us with his stories. Like many of his DS cast mates, he was shy and social all at once. After wrapping on Fridays, the cast would go to a club, maybe the Gramercy Park, I can't remember. I think people would go there to see the cast, often still in costume. They used to be famous for being stuck in their roles, drinking Manhattans and talking in those mid-Atlantic accents. It is a somewhat sobering experience for me to realize I'm barely any younger than he was when he passed away. He always seemed timeless to me. I suppose in a way he is, on film and video, and in my mind. I'd sell my right hand to have an hour long conversation with him, now.

Offline Annie

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2017, 10:57:30 PM »
Nice memories wish we could have talked to him
Love Anne 😇
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Offline Mysterious Benefactor

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2017, 06:20:58 AM »
Wonderful post from Thayer's nephew. Thanks so much for sharing it here, Gothick!!  [snow_smiley]

Offline Uncle Roger

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2017, 03:41:50 PM »
What a wonderful memory of such a fine actor. Sadly, Thayer passed away before the conventions came into being. And, aside from a few brief mentions in some of the KLS books, we have never really heard all that much about him. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
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Offline Mysterious Benefactor

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2017, 08:54:30 PM »
I guess he was a really private person because he never seems to have given interviews. At least I never saw any with him. And I can't imagine that it's because not one writer ever asked for an interview...

Offline Uncle Roger

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2017, 09:11:45 PM »
It's hard to say. Thayer was very much a part of the DS phenomena but he was relatively untouched by the fan fervor. I don't know about the soap magazines but I don't think that Thayer would have been fodder for 16 and the other teen magazines. The only interviews that I can remember were the radio ones with Ron Barry.
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Offline Mysterious Benefactor

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2017, 09:19:27 PM »
The soap magazines interviewed practically everyone but Thayer...  Other than Thayer and Mitch Ryan, I can't think and any of the regular/running DS cast that never had at least one...  Though at least Mitch Ryan had interviews for other shows he appeared on...

Offline Uncle Roger

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2017, 10:21:30 PM »
I don't recall any with David Ford either.
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Offline Gothick

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2017, 10:40:12 PM »
Thayer David was interviewed for one of the soap mags.  I think it was late 1969 or 1970.  I do have the article in my collection.

MB, message me privately if you want me to mail you a photocopy, or I guess I could attempt to scan.  I'm still incredibly obtuse when it comes to scanning anything.

Best,  G.

Offline Mysterious Benefactor

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2017, 10:47:43 PM »
Hmmm - maybe I have it but I just don't remember it at all for some odd reason. I'll have to check...

Offline Gothick

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2017, 12:21:56 AM »
I think the occasion was Thayer's marriage to Valerie French, which happened in 1969.

G.

Offline Mysterious Benefactor

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2017, 02:22:50 AM »
That sounds even less familiar. I may not have it. But I suppose I'll see once I get the chance to look...

Offline Gothick

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2017, 08:36:14 PM »
Here's a reminiscence Thayer David's nephew, Jonathan Vincent, posted a couple of years ago of Valerie French, Thayer's wife.  (Note: Jonathan calls Thayer "David" because that was actually his given name--David Thayer Hersey.)

Jonathan (Vincent) recalls Thayer's wife, Valerie French:
"She was a B movie vixen. English. Lovely. We spoke the same language.
She died around 1991 of leukemia. She was blonde and busty. Really pretty, but also classy. I loved chatting with her. She'd keep me up all night. Val wore a blonde wig when I knew her. I don't know what her real hair color was. She also wore a corset and a stylized bra. Despite the fact that she was English, she was very easy going and not overly proper. She was funny and sassy. I really liked her. She was more outgoing than David. She liked to entertain and do tea with me. I'm half British so of course I like people who do tea time. We did tea a lot in the sun parlor. Very lovely person, Val."

Best, G.

Offline Gothick

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2017, 08:40:48 PM »
I think I posted this one back in October 2015, but in case anyone didn't see it then, here's nephew Jonathan Vincent commenting upon Thayer David's love of doing DS:

He did really love Dark Shadows. It only took a few hours a day-- an hour or so for rehearsal, an hour for makeup and wardrobe, and an hour for shooting. He was very fond of his colleagues. He was a reserved person, but he really thought the show was a gift to try out different personalities as an actor. He savored the gothic, so it was a great fit for him. He'd go over to a club on Fridays with the adventurous actors and crew for the weekly wrap party-- maybe the Gramercy Hotel bar? He was quite shy, but with his friends I think he was very entertaining. There are rumors that he had lung cancer before he died. If he did, he kept it close. He was having diabetic induced health issues-- he lost a toe. But he was happy. He was planning a re-marriage to (former wife) Valerie French. She was around a lot, and she was so interesting. With Valerie back and Nero Wolfe-- he was at a high-point. I apologize if I've mentioned this before. I often lament we didn't intersect more. He died only a few years before I could have really interacted with him as a peer. He was almost what I'd call agoraphobic. Only the stage could pull him into the world.... All those folks on Dark Shadows were really wonderful. My uncle was a mad spokesman. He'd hypnotize you with history, science, politics. I just wish he lived longer. Much I'd love to chat with him about, now. He was very much like Stokes... But maybe more accessible and funnier. Stokes was a little more uptight. David was super smart. A Harvard boy. He was Stokes with some whimsy."

Best,  G.

Offline Gothick

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Re: Memories of Thayer David
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2017, 08:47:32 PM »
Jonathan mentions the Gramercy Park hotel a couple of times, so I presume that it was a popular place for Thayer to visit, and he may indeed have gathered there with other DS cast members from time to time.  It sounds as if Grayson and Sam would have loved it, as well as Louis and Joan and others.  I found this note on Wikipedia about it:

"In 1958 Herbert Weissberg, a prominent New York hotel owner, bought the hotel. He added a gift shop, doubled the size of the bar and gave tenure to Pinky, the beloved hotel bellhop. Guests were drawn to its bohemian character, low prices and locale. The hotel's reputation for discretion attracted such musicians as Bob Marley and Bob Dylan in the 1970s. The Canadian and Chicago part of the first cast of Saturday Night Live stayed in the hotel during the show's premiere and Paul Shaffer, the show's original bandleader, continued to live in the annex for another 16 years. Other former residents include character actress Margaret Hamilton, actor Matt Dillon, and playwright David Mamet. Other notable guests include the Clash, Madonna, Debbie Harry, and David Bowie."

About ten years ago someone made a documentary about this hotel, I think mainly focused on its cultural significance. 

G.