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"Dark Shadows" historian Craig Hamrick, 1966-2006

BY STEVE ROTHAUS srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Author, photographer and Dark Shadows historian Craig Hamrick died Sept. 24 in New York City, 15 days before his 40th birthday.

Hamrick, who wrote the Dark Shadows book Barnabas & Co., fought colon cancer for four years, according to Lara Parker, the actress who played the witch Angelique on the spooky ABC-TV soap opera (1966-71).

"He had grace and courage and never lost, at least in my presence, his enthusiasm for new treatments. He was not self-pitying,'' said Parker, who last saw Hamrick in late August when she appeared at the 40th anniversary Dark Shadows Festival.

Parker, who recently wrote a Dark Shadows novel, The Salem Branch, met Hamrick several years ago. "He offered to do my website and I said, 'Oh great, sure.' I didn't know what an enormous contribution he was making to my life and career."

Once, Parker spent a week with Hamrick and his partner, Joe Salvatore. "We sat up until 2 or 3 in the morning. It was like I had known him all my life,'' Parker said. "We became very close friends."

Hamrick also became friendly with other Dark Shadows stars including actresses Nancy Barrett (Carolyn Stoddard) and Marie Wallace (Eve).

He also became a close friend of actor Louis Edmonds, who played Roger Collins. Hamrick wrote Big Lou, a biography of Edmonds, who died in 2001. Hamrick died on what would have been Edmonds' 83rd birthday.

Hamrick discovered Dark Shadows as a young man, when the show was in reruns.

On his website, www.darkshadowsonline.com, Hamrick described himself as a ''blossoming gay kid'' who grew up in the '70s reading old Dark Shadows novels.

Thanks to the vampire story of Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows gained a huge gay following, Hamrick told The Miami Herald in August.

''Vampires are hiding who they are and I could identify with that,'' Hamrick said. ``I was living in Kansas at the time and I couldn't tell my family.''

As an adult, Hamrick lived in New York, where he also worked as a magazine editor. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2002, Hamrick became semi-retired.

A memorial service is planned for November, according to an e-mail sent by Salvatore to friends.

"Craig asked that people not send flowers to express sympathy for his passing," Salvatore wrote. "Rather, he wanted people to make donations to an animal shelter, as he loved our cats Buster and Dusty very much and wanted other animals to be saved and to have good homes."

Contributions in memory of Craig Hamrick may be sent to Development Department, New York City Animal Care & Control, 11 Park Place, Suite 805, New York, NY 10007.

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