Victoria Winters is a fictional character from the original Dark Shadows TV show and its remakes of the same name. The role was originated by Alexandra Moltke on the ABC series from 1966–1968. After Moltke left to raise a family in 1968, actresses Betsy Durkin and Carolyn Groves briefly replaced her for only a handful of episodes, before Victoria was written out completely. In the 1991 remake, which aired on NBC, actress Joanna Going assumed the part. The character was subsequently portrayed by Marley Shelton in a 2004 pilot. Bella Heathcote, of course, plays the role in DS 2012, with a twist. (I’m purposely being vague here in case some folks have not had a chance to see the movie yet. I trust you will find this tidbit interesting after having seen the movie – many aha moments.) A good-natured governess with a mysterious past, she is the de facto female lead in the various incarnations of the story.
The infant Victoria was dropped off on the doorstep of the Hammond Foundling Home in New York in the winter of 1947 in a cardboard box with a note pinned to it, stating, "Her name is Victoria. I cannot take care of her." The home took her in and gave her the last name "Winters" after the season.
When she turned two, letters addressed to Victoria began arriving at the home every month. Inside was $50 in cash and nothing else. The letters were never signed, but they were postmarked Bangor, Maine.
The money from Bangor inexplicably stopped arriving when Victoria turned sixteen. Vicky began working at the home under the employment of Mrs. Hopewell when she got older.
One morning in 1966, Vicky received a letter from Elizabeth Collins Stoddard in Collinsport, Maine offering her a job as a governess at Collinwood. Never having heard of Mrs. Stoddard or Collinsport, she investigated and found that it was 50 miles from Bangor (where the money she received as a child came from).
Victoria accepted the job and took a train from New York to Collinsport, hoping it held the answers to her past. Burke Devlin was aboard the same train, but she didn't meet him until they deboarded and he offered her a ride into town. When asked why she hired her, Elizabeth claimed that her brother Roger told her that she had been recommended by someone at the orphanage. Roger later "confirmed" this fact, despite being initially ignorant of it, but Victoria knew something was being kept from her.
Victoria's job was to tutor Roger's son David, but she soon learned that he was a very disturbed boy. Upon first seeing Vicky, David declared that he hated her. David felt that Vicky was there to replace his mother and rejected Vicky at every turn.
1966–1968 - Arrival and Early Days
Vicky was the prominent character on Dark Shadows for its first year of existence. For that year, each episode's opening narration began with, "My name is Victoria Winters..."
Vicky had been left at a foundling home in New York City, and thus, never knew her true parents—although monthly sums of money began to arrive mysteriously when she turned two. Vicky received her surname from the season in which she arrived in New York.
Evidently, Vicky attended some college before accepting the offer of the governess position at Collinswood. Upon her arrival in Collinsport, she met the brooding Burke Devlin (first played by Mitchell Ryan, later briefly portrayed by Anthony George), with whom she would eventually become romantically involved. During the first episode, she also met a young waitress named Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott) at the Collinsport Inn. Although Maggie derided Vicky for accepting the job at the Collinwood estate, the two girls eventually became very good friends.
Victoria Winters quickly became indispensable to Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (played by Joan Bennett), both as governess to Elizabeth's young nephew David Collins and companion to Elizabeth herself, (although her initial quest to learn her true identity dismayed the family matriarch). Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Stoddard did not wish Vicky to learn the truth because in all likelihood, Vicky was her illegitimate daughter (although never acknowledged or explained). Vicky also became important as family peacemaker, not to mention a stabilizing influence on Elizabeth's daughter, the rebellious Carolyn Stoddard (Nancy Barrett) and on the troubled David (David Henesy), son of Elizabeth's pompous and rather emotionally-cold younger brother, Roger (Louis Edmonds).
When fisherman Bill Malloy threatened to reveal Roger Collins's guilt in the manslaughter charge that led to Burke Devlin's wrongful conviction, he was murdered. Eventually, Vicky realized the killer was the disturbed caretaker Matthew Morgan (Thayer David). He kidnapped her and planned to kill her, but was frightened to death by the ghosts of Malloy, the Widows (women who had jumped from the cliffs after their husbands died), and Josette Collins. Josette would later become a key figure in Vicky's life, as well as Dark Shadows history.
Soon after Morgan's death, David's presumed-dead mother, Laura (Diana Millay) arrived, wanting to reunite with her son. Roger was reluctant, but Laura worked her charm on David, who was overjoyed to have a mother again. With the help of Josette's ghost and others, a suspicious Vicky realized Laura was a phoenix who planned to take herself and David to fiery deaths. Vicky saved him just in time. David was safe, the threat was gone, and Burke had settled his vendetta against the Collins family. David truly loved and trusted Vicky now, where before he had been hostile and spiteful toward her. Things were better than they had been for Vicky in some time, but that was not to last.
Enter Barnabas Collins
A mysterious man named Jason McGuire arrived in Collinsport and immediately convinced Elizabeth to let him stay at Collinwood. Vicky and the family were shocked (especially Carolyn), and put on the defensive when his out of control drifter friend Willie Loomis (John Karlen) joined him. Willie (who was a basically a bit of a small-time, two-bit crook) soon proved too much for even Jason to put up with, and he told Willie to get out of town. Before leaving, Willie opened a secret crypt in the family mausoleum which he hoped would contain the long-missing jewels of Naomi Collins. Instead, the figure of Barnabas Collins, a vampire who had been chained up for nearly 200 years, emerged, and bit him. Willie became Barnabas's slave. Barnabas introduced himself to the family as a cousin from England. Vicky was charmed, but more concerned with Jason's hold on Elizabeth. Finally, on their wedding day, Elizabeth could take no more and told everyone that over 18 years prior to Jason's return, she had killed her husband, Paul Stoddard, and Jason had buried his body in the basement. Jason had blackmailed her with this information. However, when they went to the basement, the trunk contained nothing but old clothes. Jason sheepishly revealed that Paul had only been stunned, and Jason had lied to Elizabeth in order to get blackmail money. Elizabeth was furious, and Jason planned to flee town. He tried to rob the Old House, Barnabas's property on Collinwood, and met his end via strangulation at the hands of Barnabas.
Vicky grew concerned about her friend Maggie, who became withdrawn and moody to everyone around her. Maggie was, in actuality, being enslaved by Barnabas due to her strong resemblance to his true love, Josette du Pres Collins. When Maggie was institutionalized, Barnabas gave up on Maggie and began to pursue Vicky. Burke did not trust Barnabas and began an investigation of him which ended only when Vicky begged him to stop. The men reached an uneasy truce, and she and Burke became engaged before Devlin went on an ill-fated plane trip to South America in 1967. Vicky believed that he had somehow survived when they could not locate Burke's body. With Burke gone, Barnabas began to more actively pursue Vicky.
During the second year of Dark Shadows, Victoria becomes unwittingly involved in Barnabas's sinister plans. After a séance to contact Barnabas' sister, Sarah Collins, Victoria is magically transported to an alternate past in 1795. A time paradox between the years 1795 and 1967 causes a rift in the timeband; a carriage overturns in 1795, exchanging Victoria with its occupant, Phyllis Wick, a governess hired by Naomi Collins. Victoria arrives at the Old Collins House and meets Collins ancestors who look just like the family she knows, but with different names, personalities, and relationships.
During this storyline, the truth behind Barnabas's unwilling transformation into a vampire is revealed. Unfortunately, Victoria makes the mistake of describing the future to the denizens of the past; she is soon seized by the fanatical Reverend Trask and accused of witchcraft. Despite the best efforts of Peter Bradford, a law student and jailer who came to know Vicky and defended her at her trial, Victoria is sentenced to hang in 1796.
Though five months pass for Victoria in the past, Phyllis Wick experiences only five minutes in 1967. Realizing she is from the 18th century, the 20th century Collins family bombards her with questions, but Phyllis soon collapses in pain, clutching at her throat. At the exact time of Victoria's "execution" she once again changes places with Phyllis, who dies in her place.
Jeff Clark, Goodbye
When Vicky returned, a worried Barnabas bit her before she could tell anyone of her memories of 1795. He convinced her to elope with him, even though she still had feelings for Peter Bradford. On their way out of town, Vicky and Barnabas were involved in a car accident after seeing a man (Roger Davis) who resembled Peter. After the accident, the mysterious Dr. Eric Lang (Addison Powell) cured Barnabas of his vampirism, and Barnabas's hold over Vicky's mind was gone.
Now known as Jeff Clark, Peter worked for Lang and became involved with Vicky before learning his true identity. Peter/Jeff helped Lang build a Frankenstein-like creature named Adam who tried to kidnap Vicky and make her his monster bride. During this time, Roger's new wife Cassandra (actually Angelique in disguise) created a Dream Curse that one person would pass on to another by telling them the dream. The dream would get worse for each person until finally Barnabas would be told. When Vicky had the dream, she did her best to keep it from Barnabas, but to stop her pain, Barnabas made her tell him. He then had the dream, woke up, and was bitten by a vampire bat, but survived.
After Dr. Lang was killed, Barnabas and his ally Dr. Julia Hoffman were forced to make a mate for Adam. That mate, Eve (Marie Wallace), had the life force of Peter's evil lover from the 18th century. She made him realize his true identity and planned to reunite with him, but Adam strangled her. After finding out he was Peter, Jeff faded away into 1795. A despondent Vicky soon followed. Barnabas rescued them both from the machinations of Reverend Trask and the evil witch Angelique.
It was later hinted at one point that Vicky married Peter Bradford in the past, and that the two of them had a child who would eventually become an ancestor of the present day Collins Family. Thus Vicky would've really and truly been part of the Collins Family. Vicky was thought to have lived happily ever after, but in 1970, the ghost of Peter Bradford appeared and told antique store owner Phillip Todd that Vicky had apparently been killed by the Leviathans (causing her to leap off of Widow’s Hill), the same otherworldly creatures which were battling Barnabas Collins at that time. The ghost tried to convince Todd to destroy the Leviathan leader, Jeb Hawkes. Angelique found out about what was going on and told Peter Bradford to return to his grave, as she was going to get her own vengeance against Jeb and the Leviathans (which she did).
Vicky's position as governess went to the former waitress, Maggie Evans. She was last mentioned in 1970 when the ghost of Gerard Stiles haunted Collinwood. Barnabas asked a possessed David to name the governess he had had before Maggie (David couldn't). David and Hallie Stokes then gave ghost Daphne Harridge, recently come to life, some of Vicky's old clothes to wear.
Dan Curtis first dreamed of a dark-haired girl riding a train to an estate, which was the inspiration for Dark Shadows. In Shadows on the Wall, the series' bible, Victoria was initially called Sheila March until the name was changed to suggest a more regal, older time. Her search for answers to her mysterious past, which was the driving force behind her accepting the governess position at Collinwood, would have originally led to the revelation that Victoria was the product of an affair between Paul Stoddard and Betty Hanscomb. Elizabeth was to have discovered Victoria's existence the night she "murdered" Paul, and her guilt over his death prompted her to send money to the Foundling Home. However, these plans were eventually scrapped--despite early references to Betty (which can be seen as red herrings)--when the Dark Shadows production team decided that Victoria would be Elizabeth's illegitimate daughter instead. This was due, in part, to Alexandra Moltke's close resemblance to Joan Bennett--so much so that when Bennett first saw Moltke (at a distance) she thought it was one of her own daughters! In 1987 Joan Bennett recorded a special video for fans in which, in character as Elizabeth, revealed that Vicky was her daughter.
As the Adam/Eve storyline of 1968 began to wind down, Ron Sproat was in the stages of slanting the plot to reveal Victoria's lineage when Moltke left the series due to her pregnancy. She was briefly replaced twice, but neither actress was (reportedly) accepted by the audience. Attempts were made to persuade Moltke to return, but, unhappy with her diminished role and content to be a stay-at-home mother to her new son, she declined. Any and all plans for the character were ultimately shelved, and Victoria Winters was unceremoniously written out with an off-screen death, leaving her as much of a mystery as when she first arrived.
It is also worth mentioning that there are numerous early hints of there being some connection between Vicky and Josette. It is unknown, however, if anything was ever meant to come of this. Many characters remark upon their resemblance to one another (including Vicky herself); Josette's ghost not only actively protects and guides Vicky but also uses her as a medium on several occasions; at one point, Vicky wears a dress that had belonged to Josette at a costume party and claims to feel as if she has worn it before. Although discarded in the original series, these aspects would be built upon and expanded in all subsequent versions of Dark Shadows.
ALEXANDRA MOLTKE ISLES
Alexandra Moltke or Alexandra M. Isles (born February 11, 1947) is an actress and documentary filmmaker. She is best known for her role as the original Victoria Winters from 1966–68 on Dark Shadows.
Isles was born in Uppsala, Sweden as Alexandra Grevina von Moltke to Mab Wilson and Count Carl Adam Greve von Moltke. The Countess (Mab) was an editor at Vogue magazine. The Count was a Danish diplomat. In 1967 Alexandra married Philip Isles and left the series in 1968 because of pregnancy, and in 1969 gave birth to a son, Adam.
During the early 1980s, she was subpoenaed as an unwilling witness in the attempted murder trial of her one-time lover Claus von Bülow. Below is an excerpt from a Vanity Fair article from 1985 by Dominick Dunne (famed writer and investigative journalist):
In 1985 Alexandra Isles began work at the Museum of Television & Radio where she became a curator specializing in arts, drama and children's programming. In 1991, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities launched her on a career as a producer and director of the award-winning documentaries The Power of Conscience: The Danish Resistance and Rescue of the Jews (1995); Scandalize My Name: Stories from the Blacklist (1999) about the black listing of African-American performers during the Red Scare; Porraimos: Europe's Gypsies in the Holocaust (2002); The Healing Gardens of New York (2007); and Hidden Treasures: Stories from a Great Museum (2011). Her films have been seen at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington, DC), Museum of Modern Art (NY), numerous film festivals including the Human Rights Watch and Margaret Mead Film Festivals, and all have aired on PBS. Isles has also been an interviewer for Stephen Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Project and an ESL tutor at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture.
She was seen on the Dark Shadows Reunion for the 35th Anniversary Celebration. This was her first public Dark Shadows appearance since leaving the show in 1968.
Isles is currently married to Alfred Jaretzki III.
Isabella "Bella" Heathcote was born on March 3, 1988 in Melbourne, Australia. She began her acting career in 2008, and up until now, was best known for playing Amanda Fowler on the Australian television soap opera Neighbours. She was a recipient of a Heath Ledger Scholarship in May 2010. Here is a video in which Heath Ledger’s mother and sister comment on Bella’s award.
2012 Killing Them Softly (post-production)
2012 Dark Shadows
Victoria Winters / Josette duPres
2012 Not Fade Away (completed)
2011 In Time
2011 Meth to Madness (short)
2010 Beneath Hill 60
Marjorie Waddell (as Isabella Heathcote)
2010 Glenn Owen Dodds (short)
2009 Neighbours (TV series)
– Episode #1.5803 (2009) … Amanda Fowler
– Episode #1.5801 (2009) … Amanda Fowler
– Episode #1.5800 (2009) … Amanda Fowler
– Episode #1.5795 (2009) … Amanda Fowler
– Episode #1.5778 (2009) … Amanda Fowler
See all 8 episodes »
2012 2011 Samsung AACTA Awards (TV movie)
Herself - Presenter: International AACTA Awards)
2010 unrise (TV series)
– Episode dated 9 April 2010 (2010) … Herself
OTHER VICTORIAS (on the Original TV Series)
Betsy Durkin Matthes is an American actress and author, originally from Fort Benning, Georgia. She took over the role of Victoria Winters after the departure of Alexandra Moltke. Betsy was the "temporary" replacement and appeared in 10 episodes over the course of a month.
After her departure, the role was taken on by actress Carolyn Groves. She only appeared in three episodes before the character was written off completely.
Ms. Durkin has appeared at several Dark Shadows festivals.
Dark Shadows Wikia
“Fatal Charm: The Social Web of Claus von Bülow,” Dominick Dunne, Vanity Fair, August 1985