Victoria Winters

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Victoria Winters
Alexandra Moltke portrays Victoria
Dark Shadows character
Portrayed by Alexandra Moltke (1966–1968; episodes 1-627)
Betsy Durkin (1968; episodes 630-650)
Carolyn Groves (1968; episodes 662-665)
Joanna Going (1991)
Marley Shelton (2004)
Bella Heathcote (2012)
First appearance June 27, 1966
Last appearance December 20, 1968
Created by Dan Curtis
Occupation Governess

Victoria Winters is a fictional character from the television Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows and its remakes of the same name. The role was originated by Alexandra Moltke on the ABC series from 1966 to 1968. After Moltke left to raise a family in 1968, actresses Betsy Durkin and Carolyn Groves briefly replaced her for only a handful of episodes, before Victoria was written out completely. Jaclyn Smith, who was married to Dark Shadows actor Roger Davis at the time, was offered the role when Moltke left the show, but she declined.[1]

In the 1991 remake, which aired on NBC, actress Joanna Going assumed the part. The character was subsequently portrayed by Marley Shelton in a 2004 pilot. In the 2012 film adaptation, Victoria is played by Bella Heathcote. A good-natured governess with a mysterious past, she is the de facto female lead in the various incarnations of the story.


Arrival and early days[edit]

Victoria was the prominent character on Dark Shadows for its first year of existence. For that year, each episode's opening narration began with, "My name is Victoria Winters..."

She had been left at a foundling home in New York City, and thus, never knew her true parents—although monthly sums of money began to arrive mysteriously when she turned two. She received her surname from the season in which she arrived in New York. Evidently, Vicky attended some college before accepting the offer of a governess position in Collinsport, Maine. Upon her arrival in Collinsport, she met the brooding Burke Devlin (first played by Mitchell Ryan, later portrayed by other actors, including Joel Crothers and Anthony George), with whom she would eventually become romantically involved. During the first episode, she also met a young waitress named Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott) at the Collinsport Inn. Although Maggie derided Victoria for accepting the job at the Collinwood estate, the two women eventually became very good friends.

Winters quickly became indispensable to Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (played by Joan Bennett), both as governess to Elizabeth's young nephew David Collins and companion to Elizabeth herself (although her initial quest to learn her true identity dismayed the family matriarch). Mrs. Stoddard did not want Victoria to learn the truth. Victoria also became important as family peacemaker, not to mention a stabilizing influence on Elizabeth's daughter, the rebellious Carolyn Stoddard (Nancy Barrett) and on the troubled David (David Henesy), son of Elizabeth's pompous and rather emotionally cold younger brother, Roger (Louis Edmonds). Slowly but surely, Victoria managed to form a bond with David. As she grew closer to Burke, she became embroiled in his old feud with the Collins family, all while she attempted to discover her origins. One early plotline involved Roger nearly dying in a car accident due to a part being taken from his car. Burke was a key suspect, but when Roger learned his own son David was the culprit, he dropped the investigation.

When fisherman Bill Malloy threatened to reveal Roger Collins's guilt in the manslaughter charge [clarification needed] which led to Burke Devlin's wrongful conviction, he was murdered. Eventually, Victoria realized the killer was the disturbed caretaker Matthew Morgan (Thayer David). He kidnapped her and planned to kill her, but was frightened to death by the ghosts of Malloy, the Widows (women who had jumped from the cliffs after their husbands died), and Josette Collins. Josette would later become a key figure in Victoria's life, as well as Dark Shadows history.

Soon after Morgan's death, David's presumed-dead mother, Laura (Diana Millay) arrived, wanting to reunite with her son. Roger was reluctant, but Laura worked her charm on David, who was overjoyed to have a mother again. With the help of Josette's ghost and others, a suspicious Victoria realized Laura was a phoenix who planned to take herself and David to fiery deaths. Vicky saved him just in time. David was safe, the threat was gone, and Burke had settled his vendetta against the Collins family. David truly loved and trusted Vicky now, where before he had been hostile and spiteful toward her. Things were better than they had been for Victoria in some time, but that was not to last.

Enter Barnabas Collins[edit]

A mysterious man named Jason McGuire arrived in Collinsport and immediately convinced Elizabeth to let him stay at Collinwood. Victoria and the family were shocked (especially Carolyn), and put on the defensive when McGuire's off-putting drifter friend Willie Loomis (John Karlen) joined him. Willie (a former small time crook) soon proved too much even for Jason to put up with, and he told Willie to get out of town. Before leaving, Willie opened a secret crypt in the family mausoleum which he hoped would contain the long-missing jewels of Naomi Collins. Instead, the figure of Barnabas Collins, a vampire who had been chained up for nearly 200 years, emerged, and bit him. Willie had unwittingly freed Barnabas, who had been imprisoned by a spurned evil witch from centuries earlier, Angelique.

Willie then became Barnabas's slave. Barnabas introduced himself to the family as a cousin from England. Victoria was charmed, but more concerned with Jason's hold on Elizabeth. Finally, on their wedding day, Elizabeth could take no more and told everyone that over 18 years prior to Jason's return, she had killed her husband, Paul Stoddard, and Jason had buried his body in the basement. Jason had blackmailed her with this information. However, when they went to the basement, the trunk contained nothing but old clothes. Jason sheepishly revealed that Paul had only been stunned, and Jason had lied to Elizabeth to get blackmail money. Elizabeth was furious, and Jason planned to flee town. He tried to rob the Old House, Barnabas's property on Collinwood, and met his end via strangulation at the hands of Barnabas.

Victoria grew concerned about her friend Maggie, who became withdrawn and moody to everyone around her. Maggie was, in actuality, being enslaved by Barnabas due to her strong resemblance to his true love, Josette. Barnabas kidnapped Maggie and began feeding off her blood. She is found with suspicious marks on her neck. He planned to make her his bride by thus controlling or hypnotizing her into being Josette, but with the help of the ghost of his little sister Sarah Collins, Maggie escaped. She was institutionalized and afterward well-guarded for some months. Barnabas gave up on Maggie and began to pursue Victoria. Burke Devlin did not trust Barnabas and began an investigation which ended only when Vicky begged him to stop. The men reached an uneasy truce, and she and Burke became engaged before Devlin went on an ill-fated plane trip to South America in 1967. Victoria believed that Burke had somehow survived when they could not locate his body. With Devlin gone, Barnabas began to more actively pursue Victoria.

Time travel[edit]

During the second year of Dark Shadows, Victoria becomes unwittingly involved in Barnabas's sinister plans. After a séance to contact Barnabas' sister, Sarah Collins, Victoria is magically transported to an alternate past in 1795. A time paradox between the years 1795 and 1967 causes a rift in the timeband; a carriage overturns in 1795, exchanging Victoria with its occupant, Phyllis Wick, a governess hired by Naomi Collins. Victoria arrives at the Old Collins House and meets Collins ancestors who look just like the family she knows, but with different names, personalities, and relationships.

During this story line, the truth behind Barnabas's unwilling transformation into a vampire is revealed. Victoria makes the mistake of describing the future to the denizens of the past; she is soon seized by the fanatical Reverend Trask and accused of witchcraft. Despite the best efforts of Peter Bradford, a law student and jailer who came to know Victoria and defended her at her trial, Victoria is sentenced to hang in 1796.

Although five months pass for Victoria in the past, Phyllis Wick experiences only five minutes in 1967. Realizing she is from the 18th century, the 20th century Collins family bombard her with questions, but Phyllis soon collapses in pain, clutching at her throat. At the exact moment of Victoria's "execution" she once again changes places with Phyllis, who dies in her place. Due to Victoria's very near death experience, and as justice and revenge, a very angry Barnabas personally saw to it that Reverend Task was sealed away in a very strong brick jail cell forever.

Jeff Clark and Goodbye[edit]

When Victoria returned to the present, a worried Barnabas bit her before she could tell anyone of her memories of 1795. He convinced her to elope with him, even though she still had feelings for Peter Bradford. On their way out of town, Victoria and Barnabas were involved in a car accident after seeing a man (Roger Davis) who resembled Peter. After the accident, the mysterious Dr. Eric Lang (Addison Powell) cured Barnabas of his vampirism, and Barnabas's hold over Victoria's mind was gone.

Now known as Jeff Clark, Peter worked for Lang and became involved with Victoria before learning his true identity. Peter/Jeff helped Lang build a Frankenstein-like creature, named Adam, who tried to kidnap Carolyn Stoddard and make her his monster bride. During this time, Roger's new wife Cassandra (actually Angelique in disguise) created a Dream Curse that one person would pass on to another by telling them the dream. The dream would get worse for each person until finally Barnabas would be told. When Vicky had the dream, she did her best to keep it from Barnabas, but to stop her pain, Barnabas made her tell him. He then had the dream, woke up, and was bitten by a vampire bat, but survived.

After Dr. Lang was killed by a spell brought by Cassandra in an attempt to stop him from bringing Adam to life, Barnabas and his ally Dr. Julia Hoffman were forced to create a mate for Adam. That mate, Eve (Marie Wallace), had the life force of Peter's evil lover from the 18th century. She made him realize his true identity and planned to reunite with him, but Adam strangled her. After finding out that he really was Peter Bradford, Jeff faded away into 1795. A despondent Victoria soon followed. Barnabas traveled back in time and rescued both Victoria and Peter from the machinations of Reverend Trask and the evil witch Angelique Bouchard before returning to the present. Victoria, however, remained behind in the year 1795 with Peter and was never seen again in the series.

It was later hinted at one point that Victoria remained trapped in the 18th-century for the rest of her life where she later married Peter Bradford in 1796, and became legally known as Victoria Bradford. She and Peter had a child who would eventually become a distant ancestor of the present day Collins family. Victoria was thought to have lived happily ever after, but in 1970, the ghost of Peter Bradford appeared and told antique store owner Phillip Todd that Victoria had been killed sometime in the early 1800s by the Leviathans, the same otherworldly creatures which were battling Barnabas Collins at that time. The ghost tried to convince Todd to destroy the Leviathan leader, Jeb Hawkes. Angelique found out about what was going on and told Peter Bradford to return to his grave, as she was going to take her own vengeance against Jeb and the Leviathans (which she did).

Victoria's position as governess went to Maggie Evans. Victoria was last mentioned in 1970 when the ghost of Gerard Stiles haunted Collinwood. Barnabas asked a possessed David to name the governess he had had before Maggie (David couldn't). David and Hallie Stokes then gave ghost Daphne Harridge, recently come to life, some of Victoria's old clothes to wear.

1991 revival[edit]

In the NBC primetime revival of the series, Victoria Winters was played by Joanna Going. The first and only season consisted of a retelling of the early Barnabas and 1795 saga, with the main difference being that this time, Vicky, not Maggie, was the spitting-image of Josette. If the series had continued (as with the original), there were plans to reveal that Victoria was Elizabeth Collins Stoddard's illegitimate daughter.[citation needed]

Return to Collinwood[edit]

In 2003 Dan Curtis Productions approved a full-cast audio drama. During the reading of Elizabeth Collins Stoddard's will, the mystery surrounding Victoria Winters (which was never revealed in the TV series) is finally resolved. Carolyn learns that her mother had a child out of wedlock; Victoria is actually Carolyn's older sister. In the late 1960s, Victoria was transported into the past and has not been seen since. In the will, Elizabeth implores Carolyn to find Victoria and bring her home.

2004 pilot[edit]

In the unaired WB pilot episode for a potential new series, Victoria Winters was played by Marley Shelton. For the first time, the character was depicted as a blond. As with the 1991 series, Victoria was identical to Josette.

2013 feature film[edit]

In the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp big screen adaptation of Dark Shadows, Victoria Winters is played by Bella Heathcote. As with the subsequent incarnations of the series, Vicky is the spitting-image of Josette. Also, the roles of Maggie Evans and Victoria Winters were combined for the film. When first meeting Vicky it is revealed that her real identity is Maggie Evans, but she changes it to Victoria Winters while on a train ride to Collinwood where, as in the original series, she has been employed as David's governess. It is presumed that she changed her name because she didn't want anyone to learn of her strange past to find her or send her back to the insane asylum.

Upon first meeting her, Barnabas instantly mistakes her for his lost Josette and instantly becomes smitten with her. He decides to become close to her and to try to make her fall in love with him. During the film it is shown that the ghost of Josette communicates with Victoria and is at a later point reveled that Victoria was Josette reincarnated.

By having Victoria being the reincarnation of Josette the film shows Victoria dealing with her past life regression issues until it finally becomes clear to her in the end. At the party scene when Barnabas and Victoria are outside Victoria unmasks to him about her childhood and they kiss. Angelique walks in and sees them and becomes furiously angry and jealous. A few scenes later, after saving David from a falling disco ball, Victoria sees what Barnabas truly is and becomes afraid and flees.

Late in the film Angelique places the same curse on Victoria as she had done to Josette, i.e. to jump off the cliff and kill herself. A little later at the cliff, Victoria is stopped just in time by Barnabas and she tells him to either make her into a vampire or she'll jump. Barnabas refuses and she jumps, but he jumps after her and bites her. This turns her into a vampire before hitting the rocks and saves her from being killed. When Victoria reawakens, her modest new fangs show she now is also a vampire and she tells Barnabas to call her Josette. Barnabas concludes that his curse has ended as they kiss and the sea water hits them.

Character development[edit]

Dan Curtis first dreamed of a dark-haired girl riding a train to an estate, which was the inspiration for Dark Shadows. In Shadows on the Wall, the series' encyclopedia, Victoria was initially called Sheila March until the name was changed to suggest a more regal, older time. Her search for answers to her mysterious past, which was the driving force behind her accepting the governess position at Collinwood, would have originally led to the revelation that Victoria was the product of an affair between Paul Stoddard and Betty Hanscomb. Elizabeth was to have discovered Victoria's existence the night she thought she had killed Paul, and her guilt over his death prompted her to send money to the Foundling Home. However, these plans were eventually scrapped — despite early references to Betty (which can be seen as red herrings) — when the Dark Shadows production team decided that Victoria would be Elizabeth's illegitimate daughter instead. This was due, in part, to Alexandra Moltke's close resemblance to Joan Bennett. In 1987, Bennett recorded a special video for fans in which, in character as Elizabeth, revealed that Victoria was her daughter.

As the Adam/Eve storyline of 1968 began to wind down, Ron Sproat was in the stages of slanting the plot to reveal Victoria's lineage when Moltke left the series due to her pregnancy. She was briefly replaced twice, but neither actress was (reportedly) accepted by the audience. Attempts were made to persuade Moltke to return, but, unhappy with her diminished role and content to be a stay-at-home mother to her new son, she declined. Any and all plans for the character were ultimately shelved, and Victoria was unceremoniously written out with an off-screen 18th-century death.

Big Finish audio dramas[edit]

Although Victoria herself has not yet appeared in any of the Big Finish audio plays to date, the character has been mentioned in passing. In House of Despair, Ed Griffin tells Quentin Collins that the people of Collinsport have not forgotten how "that Winters girl" inexplicably disappeared. While, in Curse of the Pharaoh, Carolyn recalls Victoria having once dated Frank Garner.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Scott, Kathryn Leigh and Pierson, Jim (editors). Dark Shadows Almanac. Los Angeles and London, Pomegranate Press, 1995. Page 169.