Elizabeth Collins Stoddard
|Elizabeth Collins Stoddard|
|Dark Shadows character|
|Portrayed by||Joan Bennett (1966 — 1971)
Jean Simmons (1991)
Blair Brown (2004)
Michelle Pfeiffer (2012)
|First appearance||June 27, 1966|
|Last appearance||May 2012|
|Created by||Dan Curtis and Art Wallace|
|Aliases||Elizabeth Collins (maiden name)|
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard is a fictional character played by Joan Bennett on the cult television ABC-TV Gothic horror soap opera Dark Shadows from 1966 to 1971. Elizabeth is the matriarch of the Collins family, the longtime owners of a cannery and shipping company in a small Maine fishing town. Jean Simmons portrayed the character in the revival series in 1991, and Blair Brown took over the role in the WB pilot. Elizabeth is played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the 2012 feature film.
At the start of the series (1966), we learn that Elizabeth's husband Paul Stoddard (Dennis Patrick) disappeared in 1949, some 17 years before the arrival of governess Victoria Winters (Alexandra Moltke). Since her husband went missing, Elizabeth has not left the ancient family mansion, Collinwood, or its grounds.
Elizabeth's younger brother is the snobbish Roger Collins (Louis Edmonds). The father of both Elizabeth and Roger was Jamison Collins. Roger has a darkly mischievous (some would say diabolical) son named David Collins (David Henesy), of whom Elizabeth is quite fond. Elizabeth's daughter is spoiled rich girl Carolyn Stoddard (Nancy Barrett). Despite her imperious and reserved exterior, Elizabeth is a deeply passionate woman who harbors several dark secrets. The main secret that emerges in the course of the series is her belief that she murdered her husband, Paul Stoddard, and that his body was buried in the basement. This is the reason she has not left Collinwood for nearly 20 years. However, the story of her husband's death proves to be an elaborate con by Paul himself and his criminal colleague Jason McGuire (also played by Dennis Patrick), through which they planned to blackmail Elizabeth into giving them the Collins fortune. Fortunately the truth comes out before grave damage is done, and McGuire is killed shortly thereafter by Barnabas Collins as he desperately tried to recoup his losses. Paul eventually reappears in 1969, and dies the following year.
According to the family Bible, shot in close-up in episodes dealing with Elizabeth's attempted suicide by jumping from Widow's Hill, she was born February 28, 1917; Roger was born September 14, 1925; and Carolyn was born July 16, 1946, but there seems to be some inconsistency in dates.
Many of the 1966-67 storylines centered on Victoria Winters and her relationship with Elizabeth (as well as the larger Collins family). It is implied throughout the series that Vicki is a blood relative of the family, but this plotline is never fully realized. The character of Vicki was eventually written out of the show in 1968, when she falls in love with a young man named Peter Bradford from the years 1795-1796, and returns with him to his era to live out her life there.
In 1999, writers Stephen Mark Rainey and Elizabeth Massie wrote the Dark Shadows novel Dreams of the Dark. The story concludes with a confirmation that Victoria Winters is in fact the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Collins. The identity of Vicki's father, however, is never revealed, though some speculate that he was fisherman Bill Malloy (murdered in an early storyline), or the unseen Ned Calder (whom Elizabeth once mentioned as almost marrying). In 2003, the full-cast audio drama Return to Collinwood, which was approved by Dan Curtis Productions, also confirmed that Vicki was Elizabeth's illegitimate daughter during a reading of Elizabeth's will. Again, the father was left unidentified.
The character of Elizabeth Collins Stoddard also appeared in the 1970 MGM film, House of Dark Shadows. There is very little distinction between the film version of Elizabeth and the television version, despite the fact that both productions take place within independent continuities. In the film's sequel, Night of Dark Shadows, Grayson Hall's character, Carlotta Drake, states that Elizabeth died some time after the events of House of Dark Shadows.
Elizabeth also appeared in several of the Marilyn Ross gothic novels by Paperback Library published during the 1960s-70s, as well as the original Dark Shadows comic book series published by Gold Key Comics.
In the parallel universe of Collinwood 1969, Elizabeth Stoddard and her brother, Roger, were poor relatives of family patriarch Quentin Collins and his wife, Angelique Stokes Collins. Elizabeth and Roger both attended a seance which culminated in the death of Angelique - the only clue being a small pinprick on her skin. Elizabeth was a collector of hatpins, which led her daughter, Carolyn Stoddard Loomis to believe her mother had killed Angelique. The truth was that Roger had used one of Elizabeth's hatpins to kill Angelique, who was secretly his lover. Roger killed both Elizabeth and Carolyn to try and cover up the crime, before being killed by the Angelique, who had been unwittingly resurrected by her twin sister, Alexis Stokes.
In 1991 Dan Curtis Productions revived the Dark Shadows series as a one-hour night time soap opera for NBC. The role of Elizabeth was played by veteran actress Jean Simmons. Due to the series' early cancellation, very little attention was given to Simmons' character, but she differed from her predecessor in that she was not portrayed as an eccentric recluse, but rather as a high-spirited passionate woman with a strong devotion to her family. This version of Elizabeth also appeared in three separate comic book adaptations by the defunct publishing company Innovation Comics. As with the original series, there were plans to reveal that Elizabeth was, in fact, Victoria's mother if the revival had continued.
In 2004 a new version of Dark Shadows was produced for the WB television network. Only a rough pilot was made, and it never aired on TV as the WB opted not to pick the series up (it has aired at several Dark Shadows festivals). In it, Elizabeth was portrayed by Blair Brown.
Dark Shadows (2012)
The Tim Burton-Johnny Depp feature film adaptation stars Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth. Unlike prior versions of the character, this Elizabeth is a strong-willed and active woman, teaming with Barnabas to help restore the Collins family's tattered fortunes and reputation.
- Joan Bennett, who played Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, is one of only two actors from the series who appeared in both the first and final episodes of Dark Shadows (the other being Louis Edmonds (Roger Collins)). Bennett was also one of only three actors who remained on the series during the entire length of its production.
- As happened with many of the regular cast, Joan Bennett played several other characters during her tenure on Dark Shadows, including Naomi Collins, Judith Collins Trask, Flora Collins, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (of Parallel Time 1970) and Flora Collins (of Parallel Time 1841).
- Dreams of the Dark; Stephen Mark Ramsey and Elizabeth Massie, 1999
- This was inspired by the fact that actress Alexandra Moltke closely resembled Joan Bennett - so much so that when Bennett first saw Moltke (at a distance) she thought it was one of her own daughters!