Christopher Pennock, whose long career in daytime drama is best remembered for his portrayal of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character on ABC’s supernatural soap Dark Shadows, died Feb. 12 following a brief hospitalization in California. Pennock, who was diagnosed with melanoma last summer, was 76.
His death was announced on the Dark Shadows News Facebook page. Pennock’s wife, Lynn Dunn Pennock, told the site that her husband, a lifelong Buddhist, “has transitioned into the pure land of Dewachen with complete enlightenment leaving only a rainbow body behind.”
Dark Shadows actor David Selby, a friend of Pennock’s since their days on the 1960s-’70s show, wrote on his blog, “Chris was the most fun loving, generous and kind man with a great smile. He was the kind of person this world needs more of…His spirit and joy of life will be with me and all those who were lucky to cross his path.”
Kathryn Leigh Scott, who played governess Maggie Evans on Dark Shadows, wrote on Facebook, “Such a said day for all of us who loved Chris Pennock. Celebrating his glorious life and spirt while grieving his loss is hard . . . and I’m afraid grief in losing a beloved colleague and dear friend is the dominant sentiment for me today. Chris, you’ll always be in my heart.”
A graduate of New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Pennock began his career on stage, performing as an understudy in a 1966 Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo. A longstanding member of The Actors Studio, Pennock would appear on Broadway in 1969’s A Patriot for Me and 1971’s Abelard and Heloise, among other stage roles.
It was during his run in A Patriot for Me that Pennock was hired by Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis to play a central role in what would prove a disappointing storyline for the spooky show, with Pennock playing an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired character called a Leviathan.
Although that convoluted plot was largely rejected by the show’s fanbase, contributing to a declining viewership, Pennock survived unscathed, and was subsequently cast in the central, flashy new role of Cyrus Longworth, the Dark Shadows version of Dr. Jekyll and, with a not-entirely-convincing fake nose, his Hyde alter ego John Yaeger.
Pennock remained with Dark Shadows, in various roles (as was the show’s practice), until the series ended in 1971. He also costarred in the franchise’s second feature film spinoff, 1971’s Night of Dark Shadows. A fan favorite, Pennock took part in annual Dark Shadows conventions for decades after the series ended, and created a series of popular comic books based on his Dark Shadows experiences.
Following Dark Shadows, Pennock performed on various primetime episodic shows (Cannon, The Love Boat, Cagney & Lacey, Melrose Place, Simon & Simon, Dynasty, The A-Team, Silk Stalkings, Baywatch, among others) and in such films as Savages (1972), California Suite (1978) and Frances (1982). He remained active in daytime TV with roles on General Hospital, The Young & The Restless, Guiding Light and Days of Our Lives.
More recently, Pennock appeared in Brandon Riley Miller’s streaming series High, with his final episode to be aired later this year.
In addition to his wife, Pennock is survived by daughter Tara and other family members.