"It's very boring being nice all the time. You have only so much niceness in you. You pour it all into some stupid girl and you have nothing left when you go home at night."
Appeared in: 333 episodes
First episode: #1, June 27, 1966
Last episode: # 627, November 19, 1968
When she refused to take the stand voluntarily, Alexandra Motlke Isles was subpoenaed. While the world watched and listened, the still-gorgeous former actress told a hushed courtroom the details of her affair with Von Bulow. She had pressed him to leave his wife, she testified, and soon after, Sunni Von Bulow was in a coma, possibly the result of an insulin injection. Her testimony, that she didn't know whether the murder charges were unfounded, shook Von Bulow's case. He was found guilty, but the case was appealed and the decision reversed. In a second trial, (at which Alexandra again testified) he was found not guilty.
Alexandra's notoriety during the trial helped breathe new life into Dark Shadows. New York's channel 4 began broadcasting repeats on April 12, 1982 a month after the trial concluded. The New York Post ran a photo of Alexandra alongside a short item noting that the actress was "a familiar face to many since the recent headlines."
The Post (which covered the trial extensively) tracked down Alexandra's former co-stars and tried to get them to comment. Most declined. Jonathan Frid limited his answer to a quick description of her as "a very quiet girl -- the last person I'd ever expect to find herself in such an awkward situation."
The quiet girl's early childhood had been equally dramatic. In 1945, as a 3-month-old, she was smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Denmark in a laundry basket by her parents, Count Carl Adam Moltke and his wife, Mab. The small family was carried to safety in a U.S. bomber. They ended up in New York City, where Alexandra later attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her father worked as Special Assistant to the American Ambassador from Denmark, and her mother was an editor at Vogue.
In one of her professional bios, Alexandra's acting debut at the Academy was described: She was "tilting slightly to the left, and with one arm stiffly extended. She was an airplane wing."
After graduating, in the summer of 1965 she toured with Eve Arden in the comedy Beekman Place, as an unwed pregnant young woman who gets in trouble with the police for protesting the A-bomb. The following year she took a very different part, as the virginal and naive Victoria Winters, the focus character of Dark Shadows. But while Alexandra got a lot of screen time, within two years she found her work dull
"It's very boring being nice all the time," she told The Daily News in August 1968. "You have only so much niceness in you. You pour it all into some stupid girl and you have nothing left when you go home at night."
When the reporter asked if she was leaving the show, she muttered, "no such luck," but three months later the newly married actress told the DS producers she was pregnant, and she was let out of her contract. Her son, with husband Philip Isles, was named Adam.
Alexandra was asked to return to Dark Shadows, but she was uninterested unless she could play an evil character. Her other TV appearances included Certain Honorable Men (a 1968 made-for-TV movie) and The Adams Chronicles (a 1976 PBS miniseries). She also worked for a time as weekend reporter for WNYC News.
She acted on stage occasionally throughout the 1970s and '80s, but it was her participation in the von Bulow trial that brought her (unwanted) worldwide fame. She moved behind the camera to work as a documentary filmmaker, beginning with her 1995 directorial debut, The Power of Conscience: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews, which she dedicated to her father's memory. In 1998, she wrote, produced, and directed Scandalize My Name: Stories from the Blacklist.
Initially, Alexandra declined to take part in Dark Shadows-related conventions, books, and documentaries. However, eventually she did a videotaped interview for MPI Home Video's Dark Shadows Behind the Scenes, and has since written contributions to Kathryn Leigh Scott's Pomegranate Press books about the show.
In 2001 she attended a Museum of TV and Radio ceremony honoring Dark Shadows in California -- which has been released on DVD and VHS by MPI. The actress again made headlines, this time for confirming her character's parentage: During a Q&A, when asked by a fan if Victoria was Elizabeth's daughter, she smiled and stated firmly, "Yes I am!"
PRIMETIME TV: Certain Honorable Men (Secretary, 1968).
THEATER: The Rehearsal (Lucille, 1977, NY), The Reluctant Debutante, I Remember Mama, A Palpable God, After the Rise, Alice in Wonderland, Othello (Desdemona), The Swan (Alexandra).
TOUR: Beekman Place (starring Eve Arden).
MISC: Appeared on stage at the Chapin School, NYC, in St. Joan (Chief Inquisitor).
Directed 1995 documentary The Power of Conscience: The Danish Resistance & the Rescue of the Jews.