Dark Shadows Character:
Victoria Winters #2
Appeared in: 10 episodes
First episode: #630, November 22, 1968
Last episode: # 650, December 20, 1968
Born: Fort Benning, Georgia
When Alexandra Moltke abruptly left Dark Shadows due to pregnancy, her pivotal character, governess Victoria Winters, was in the midst of a major storyline and couldn't quickly be written out.
To ease that character off the show, stage actress Betsy Durkin joined the cast for a month. In Betsy's tenth episode, Betsy's Victoria literally vanished, fading away, presumably returning to the 1700s, where she had met the love of her life during another journey through time.
After leaving Collinwood behind, Betsy joined the cast of another soap opera -- Hidden Faces, which revolved around the fashion industry. Later she shifted her artistic focus to musical composition, providing songs for Search for Tomorrow, As the World Turns,” and Texas -- as well as prominent singers like Cissy Houston and John Parr.
Betsy's husband, Jack Cortner, is also a music writer, who has created themes for the soaps Edge of Night, and Search for Tomorrow as well and Monday Night Football and numerous other television programs and long-playing commercials.
Because of the brevity of Betsy's time on Dark Shadows, she didn't get the teen idol-treatment that was showered on Alexandra Moltke and other DS stars, with few references in such popular magazines as 16 and Tiger Beat, let alone more serious publications like the New York Times.
When I was researching the first edition of Barnabas and Company, aside from a few publicity stills, I was unable to find any published material about the temporary Victoria, though I tried hard to either learn about her or locate her for an interview.
Then in the spring of 2006, my publisher casually mentioned that someone had sent me a message through her, at a book trade show. "Betsy Durkin said to tell you hello," she told me. Needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised, and I soon up an interview with her, so I could expand her biography in the 40th anniversary edition of Barnabas and Co., which will debut at this summer's DS Festival in Brooklyn.
Betsy had encountered my publisher because she had recently added another "job title" to her resume: Author. Her first book, How to Dress the Man You Love, will be released in July. For more information, click here to read an interview she recently took part in to promote the book, here for more information about the author/actress, and here to buy the book.
According to publicity materials for her new book, Betsy Durkin Matthes is "a former actress, singer, dancer and song lyricist who, early in her performing career, learned the importance of 'dressing for the part you want.' "
Betsy has shared tips about this ability with friends and fellow actors over the years, and decided to use her experience to pen a book
Before turning her talents to the subject of men’s clothing, Betsy appeared on Broadway, in numerous Off-Broadway productions, daytime dramas and national touring companies, working with stars such as Lauren Bacall, Jon Voight and Peggy Cass.
She has over 100 television commercials to her credit, as well as 13 recordings by major artists.
Betsy was born at Fort Benning, Georgia, where her father was in training to be a paratrooper.
She studied acting at the American Theater Wing and the School of American Ballet in New York City. She more recently enrolled in Marymount Manhattan College as a "mature student." She graduated in 1996 as the Valedictorian of her class with a major in International Studies and a minor in Women’s Studies.
Betsy's Broadway debut was as Brenda Vaccaro's understudy in the 1965 to '68 production of Cactus Flower. The hit show's star was movie Lauren Bacall, who decades earlier had shot to fame during Hollywood's Golden Age, alongside her husband Humphrey Bogart. In the romantic comedy Cactus Flower, Bacall played a no-nonsense nurse who gets caught up in the shenanigans of her dentist employer as he tries to land a much younger, free-spirited woman named Toni, played by Vaccaro. When Vaccaro left the show, understudy Betsy took over the part. (Goldie Hawn nabbed an Oscar for playing Toni in the 1969 film version.)
She has a son, Peter Matthes, who is an assistant director for television commercials in New York City. Betsy and her husband reside on Shelter Island, New York and in New York City.