R.I.P. John Karlen, star of Dark Shadows and Cagney & Lacey

The actor, frequently seen on police shows, was 86 years old.

Image: Everett Collection

John Karlen, known for his multiple roles on the long-running 1966 show Dark Shadows and his portrayal of Harvey Lacey on the 1982 show Cagney & Lacey, passed away on January 22, 2020.

Karlen was a regular on police shows, guest-starring on programs like Barnaby Jones, Hawaii Five-O, Mannix, Police Story and Hill Street Blues

His first starring role and the one that many remember him for was his part as Willie Loomis, the man who releases vampire Barnabas Collins from his coffin on Dark Shadows. Like many of the cast, Karlen played multiple roles on the series. He would later play Carl Collins, Desmond Collins, and Kendrick Young. He stayed with the show until its end in 1971. 

Karlen's other famous role was that of Harvey Lacey, the husband of Tyne Daly's Mary Beth Lacey on the show Cagney & Lacey. Karlen's character was integral to part of the show's appeal. While Cagney was a single career woman, Lacey had a husband and children and audiences tuned in to see how they worked together with such different lives.

Karlen would reprise the role of Harvey Lacey in all four Cagney & Lacey television movies, produced in 1994–96. 

The actor was 86 years old.

 
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pel5087 6 months ago
I have been binge watching Dark Shadows since September. Now know John Karlen has passed on will make me sad whenever I see Willy Loomis. Rest in peace.
MaryDavis 6 months ago
I will miss you and loved you on Cagney and Lacey. RIP John Karlen.
AgingDisgracefully 6 months ago
Playing the role of being happy to be married to Tyne Daly...
...that's ACTING!
Jeremy 6 months ago
I was playing one of MeTV's quizzes when I came across his face and even though I didn't know who he was, I said, "You're dead, aren't you?" I was right...unfortunately. All I can say is "I'm sorry." I'll miss Willie Loomis from Dark Shadows.
walligans 6 months ago
Boy has time flown by. Didn't realize he was that old. Thought maybe in his 70's. Enjoyed him on both Dark Shadows and Cagney and Lacy!! Heard that David Selby made the announcement on Facebook.
harlow1313 6 months ago
Darks Shadows made a deep impression on my boyhood brain. I think it was Barnabas's angst over being a vampire that disturbed me.

I love the episodes from the time Karlen portrayed Willie Loomis.
cperrynaples 6 months ago
So good that you remembered Karlen, but actually he left DS early to work on other soaps! He did come back for the 2 movies and was often at fan gatherings! And of course we all remember Harvey Lacey!
Wiseguy cperrynaples 6 months ago
You're partly right. He left a few times during the series but always returned (most notably he left during the original Barnabas storyline and returned after the 1795 storyline and left again during the 1897 storyline and returned just before the 1840 storyline) and stayed to the end.
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