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DSO Day Player Profile

Anita Bolster
Dark Shadows Role: Bathia Mapes
Number of episodes: 3, in 1968
Born: August 28. 1895, Glenlohan, Ireland
Died: June 1, 1985, North Miami, Florida

Career Highlights:
Supporting roles in Henry Aldrich Haunts a House (1943), The Thin Man Goes Home (1945), Scarlett Street (1945, with Joan Bennett), The Lost Weekend (1945), The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947)
TV: Guest spots on The Saint, Danger Man, Hallmark Hall of Fame, and Dark Shadows.
Broadway: Where There's a Will (1939, with Frances Reid); Lady in Waiting (1940, see article below); and Pygmalion (1945-46, with Gertrude Stein and Raymond Massey).
Click here to read her credits on The Internet Movie Database (IMDB).


Good Witch Bathia Drawn by Hirschfeld

For decades, one of the biggest honors for theater stars was to have their caricature drawn by legendary artist Al Hirschfeld. Anita Bolster (Bathia Mapes) was thus honored, as shown below, while appearing on Broadway in Lady in Waiting in 1940 with costar Gladys George. (Gladys is probably best remembered for playing the wife of Sam Spade's slain partner in the film noir classic The Maltese Falcon.) Other DS stars who were drawn by Hirschfeld included David Selby, Diana Millay, and Marie Wallace.

I know there are some people who take Dark Shadows deadly seriously, and if you're one of them, the odds are pretty good that you aren't a happy DSO reader anyway -- so I won't waste any time apologizing for the fact that I really get a kick out of the DS bloopers. Obviously, I love Dark Shadows. And a huge part of the show's charm, for me, lies in the fact that watching it is a lot like seeing a live stage performance: Anything can happen. Props fall apart (or catch fire), tombstones fall over, actors forget their lines -- or accidentally read their scene-mate's lines from the teleprompter. Because of time- and budget-constraints, DS was rarely edited -- lots of bloopers went on the air. At least the actors could rest assured that soap opera episodes are never rerun. Well...DS was a rule-breaking soap....

Thankfully, for those of us who don't mind chuckling at the show, the bloopers did survive and have been assembled in a video compilation released by MPI. And my favorite clunker stars Anita Bolster. During one of her scenes, the over-70 actress obviously forgets her lines and goes totally blank. And if that's not bad enough, you can clearly hear someone reading her lines pretty loudly. At least she cooperatively repeats them and gets through the scene.

Bathia appears in just three episodes (449, 450, 451) as a good witch trying to save Barnabas during the 1795 storyline. Unfortunately, she meets a firey end, thanks to Angelique. The episodes aired in March 1968.

Before becoming Bathia, Anita had carved out an impressive career of supporting roles on stage and in film. A native of Ireland, she was a member of that country's acclaimed Abbey Theatre, based in Dublin, and also worked extensively on the British stage. (She was sometimes credited as Anita Sharp-Bolster.) She came to America in 1938 and got terrific reviews for her performance in Lady in Waiting. (She toured with the show after her successful Broadway turn.) Like many of Dark Shadows' distinctive day players, at the peak of her career Anita was a very busy character actress, appearing in dozens of films.

She had small roles in some major classics, including Heaven Can Wait and Going My Way. In many of her films, she played housekeepers -- including Hilda, the maid who kept Nick and Nora Charles' home humming in The Thin Man Goes Home.

Besides Bathia, she played a witch in two TV versions of MacBeth. She lived nearly 20 years after her DS appearance -- passing away in the U.S. in 1985, just shy of her 90th birthday.

For more stories about the Dark Shadows cast, read the book Barnabas & Company by Craig Hamrick.

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