Mourning the Loss of Dark Shadows Star Chris Pennock
By David Block
Chris Pennock, 76, who acted on TV and in movies and on stage for over 40 years, died on February 12, 2021.
Photo of Christopher Pennock, casual Dark Shadows studio plain background, 1970. Photo courtesy of Dan Curtis Productions.
It took me a while to write about it because he was my friend. We shared
special experiences together.
The one I will never forget was when he
volunteered to be my guide runner at the 2000 New York City Marathon. I
needed one due to my partial blindness, so Chris decided to help me. He
flew from California to New York to spend that weekend together. Chris
had an injured knee and he still completed the marathon.
regret was that during the marathon, I was mad at him. I was too upset
because I thought we were in last place. I wasn’t just blind, visually. I
temporarily forgot that he was one of my favorite actors from Dark
Shadows. I didn’t stop to remember that he made me feel so special at
Dark Shadows festivals. I traveled there to the festivals by myself felt
out of place. Besides being legally blind, I am on the Autism Spectrum
and I have social anxiety. Because Chris allowed me to spend time with
him at the festivals, when he could have easily had security guards
usher me away made me feel better about myself.
During the marathon, I pulled and dragged him practically the whole way. I am glad that he forgave me.
He wrote a comic book about our marathon adventure together: Fear and
Loathing at the New York City Marathon. In the book, he portrayed me as
the Philly Flasher. (We both knew that I never flashed anyone.) I
was glad he put me in the book because that made me feel important. I
got to sign autographs along with the other Dark Shadows stars - my
idols from childhood.
I had the honor of interviewing Chris several times.
He was on Dark Shadows from 1969 until the show’s conclusion in 1971,
where he played different villains in several storylines. The most
notable was the 1840 flashback where he played wheelchair user Gabriel
Collins. One day when Gabriel’s father Daniel Collins (Louis Edmonds)
berated him for being in a wheelchair, Gabriel stood up. He confessed
that he was able to walk for years and then he committed patricide.
"l loved it because it was cathartic,” Pennock told me during one of my
interviews with him. “I had problems with my father, so it was like
being set free."
Fellow Dark Shadows actor Kathryn Leigh Scott, shared her memories of working with him.
“This is such a sad time for all of us who loved Chris Pennock,” said
Scott. “Celebrating his glorious life and soaring spirt while grieving
his loss is hard. I'm afraid grief in losing a beloved colleague and
dear friend is the dominant sentiment for me and many of us who've known
him more than fifty years. He was so vibrant and full of life, it's
very hard to imagine our world without him. He'll always be in my
An additional Dark Shadows star maintained a close friendship with Chris, even toward the end of his life.
“We lived in the same town (Idyllwild, Calif.),” said Storm. “We saw
each other about every other day. We enjoyed each other’s ability and
talent. It’s now hard walking through town and he’s no longer there.
There’s a big hole.”
Jim Pierson, Director of the Dark Shadows Festivals also paid tribute to him.
“He just had this great energy and karma,” said Pierson. “we all thought
of him as the eternal hippy. He was a great advocate for social causes
for all people. He loved nature and animals.”
Chris Pennock had many acting successes after Dark Shadows.
From 1977 to 1980 Chris was on General Hospital as Mitch Williams, a
wealthy junior senator. He said that one of his most memorable scenes
was when his wife caught him philandering on their wedding night, yet he
still easily persuaded her to forgive him.
One of his most memorable movie highlights was portraying Frances
Farmer’s husband in Frances (1982). The movie starred Jessica
Lange as Frances Farmer.
"I was in heaven working with Jessica," said Pennock in an interview with me.
These are just a few of Chris Pennock 's many accomplishments.
A special thank you to Dark Shadows Festival Director Jim Pierson.
Sci Fi Channel put together about Chris Pennock and David Block running the 2000 NYC Marathon.