David Selby's performance as Quentin Collins helped propel Dark Shadows to its highest ratings, during the 1897 storyline.

David Selby
Dark Shadows Character:
Quentin Collins

Appeared in: 305 episodes

First episode: # 646, December 16, 1968

Last episode: # 1230, March 12, 1971

Born: Morgantown, West Virginia; February 5, 1941

Official Website: DavidSelby.com


David Selby was born and raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, and he attended West Virginia University, where he fell in love with acting. He also fell in love with a fellow student, while doing a summer stock production of Honey in the Rock in Beckley, West Virginia, in 1961. He and Claudeis (Chip) Newman married in 1963.

The Selbys moved to New York after David landed the role of David Merrick, a young writer, in six-month national tour of The Impossible Years. Next were off-off-Broadway productions of For God and Country and Mrs. Corrine, followed by Yes, My Darling Daughter at the Equity Library Theatre.

Then David joined the cast of Dark Shadows, in an unusual role: For his first several weeks on the show he didn't speak; he played Quentin Collins, a silent, extremely menacing ghost who traumatized youngsters Amy and David, and drove everyone out of Collinwood.

Eventually, though, the actor got a chance to talk when the storyline was shifted to the past again, to 1897, to explore Quentin's history.

During the 1897 flashback, Dark Shadows shot to its highest ratings. A merchandising blitz was launched, and David was among the cast members at its center. His image was featured on bubble gum cards, posters, and the covers of paperback books. One set of trading cards (Quentin Postcards) featured no one but David. He even recorded a duet with Nancy Barrett ("I Wanna Dance With You"), which was released as a single in 1969. Click here to read more about the DS collectibles.

When Jonathan Frid decided not to play Barnabas in the sequel to House of Dark Shadows, the story was written to center instead on Quentin Collins, and David made his movie debut in 1971 taking the lead role in Night of Dark Shadows.

More films followed, including Up the Sandbox (1972, starring Barbra Streisand), Supercops (1974), Raise the Titanic (1980), and Rich and Famous (1981, the final directorial work by legendary George Cukor).
David has carved out an impressive stage career with many Broadway appearances -- including Ghandi (1970), The Heiress (1976, with Jane Alexander), The Eccentricities of a Nightingale (1976, with Betsy Palmer), and I Won't Dance (1981, with DS day player Gail Strickland).

Other stage appearances include The Children's Hour, with Joanne Woodward and Shirley Knight at the Berkshire Theatre Festival; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, with Sandy Dennis; The Devil's Disciple, with Jill Clayburgh at the American Shakespeare Festival; and Much Ado About Nothing with Kelly McGillis at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C.

The actor made his first West Coast TV appearance in 1974, as a charming art teacher who tempted Olivia, the devoutly married matriarch of The Waltons. Other guest-starring roles followed, including parts on Police Woman, Kojak, and Family.

In the 1977 mini-series Washington: Behind Closed Doors, David played an amoral member of the U.S. President's staff -- "someone you could actively dislike," he said. He enjoyed the chance to stretch his "bad guy" acting muscles. Also in the cast were Lara Parker and Thayer David.

For one season, in 1981, David again got to play an evil character, as the vengeful Michael Tyrone on the nighttime soap Flamingo Road, costarring Morgan Fairchild and Mark Harmon.

Waltons creator Earl Hamner remembered the positive experience of working with David on that show, so after Flamingo Road was canceled, Hamner sought him out for a leading role in his already-established nighttime soap, Falcon Crest. From 1982 to '90, David played power-hungry Richard Channing, a scheming newspaper publisher constantly clashing with his mother, Angela, played by movie veteran Jane Wyman. His wife, Maggie, was played by DS alum Susan Sullivan (pictured below).

The Selby family was still based in New York, but David was often in California working in television and film. "They have a saying in West Virginia, 'You have to go where the coal is'," he said. Splitting his time between the coasts meant long separations from his family, so in 1982, David, Chip, and their three children moved to California.

On hiatus from Falcon Crest, David played a character similar to Richard Channing. He starred as the founder of the Olympic games in King of the Olympics: The Lives and Loves of Avery Brundage, a 1988 TV movie.
After Falcon Crest was canceled, David appeared in several movies, including Dying Young (1991, with Julia Roberts and Campbell Scott), White Squall (1996, directed by Ridley Scott), and the Disney film D3: The Mighty Ducks (1997). He had a memorable cameo in 2004's Surviving Christmas, starring Ben Affleck and James Gandolfini.

In 1997 he starred in another TV series: Soldier of Fortune. (The show's lead character, played by Brad Johnson, had a familiar last name: Quentin.) His recent guest-star appearances have included roles on Touched By An Angel (1998) and Ally McBeal (2000).

For many years, David has been involved with L.A. Theatre Works, recording classics before a live audience for National Public Radio. Among his numerous appearances, he recreated his stage role in The Perfectionist, starred in State of the Union with Lindsey Crouse, and starred with Shirley Knight in Horton Foote's Young Man from Atlanta. He also played Mitch in a BBC/Canadian Public Radio recording of A Streetcar Named Desire, and was Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny for NPR and the BBC. Other voice-acting work includes the part of the Griffin in the award-winning animated film The Griffin and the Minor Cannon for PBS.

David is also a playwright: He has appeared in his self-penned Lincoln and James at the Dark Shadows Festival and at several other venues including West Virginia University. He also adapted it into a screenplay. Lincoln and James is about the caretaker of Abraham Lincoln's Washington, D.C., statue, who encounters the spirit of the dead president. David also wrote Final Assault, a play about the conflict between a coal mining company and environmentalists.

Writing talent runs in the Selby family: son Jamison wrote Return to Collinwood, a radio drama presented at the 2003. DS Festival (starring his dad and other original cast members). A recording of the drama was released on CD the following year.

David and Chip formed Locust Grove Press to publish David's first book, In and Out of the Shadows, featuring poetry he wrote and photos from throughout his career. Next they released My Mother's Autumn, David's poetry about his mother’s death. (It was also released as an audio book on CD.) His most recent book is another poetry collection, Happenstance.

DSO Exclusive Photo: David Selby on stage at the 2003 DS Festival, reprising the role of Quentin in his son's drama Return to Collinwood. Also pictured: costars Kathryn Leigh Scott and Nancy Barrett. See more.



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