She started it al! Over 40 years ago, Dan Curtis had a dream about a mysterious
young woman riding on a train. Soon Curtis was developing a television show based on
that dream, and its heroine was named Victoria Winters.
Vicki 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..."
Vicki had been left at a founding home in New York City and never knew her true parents --
although monthly sums of money began to arrive mysteriously when she turned two. Vicki
received her surname from the season in which she arrived in New York.
Victoria Winters arrived at Collinwood quickly became indispensable to Elizabeth Collins
Stoddard. Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Stoddard did not wish Vicki to learn the truth because
in all likelihood, Vicki was her illegitimate daughter (although never acknowledged or
explained). Vicki also became important as family peacemaker, not to mention a stabilizing
influence on Elizabeth's daughter, the rebellious Carolyn Stoddard and on the troubled
David Collins, son of Elizabeth's brother, Roger.
My name is Victoria Winters.
My journey is beginning ...
A journey that I hope will open
the doors of life to me,
and link my past with my future.
A journey that will bring me
to a strange and dark place,
to the edge of the sea,
high atop Widow's Hill.
To a place called Collinwood.
A world I've never known,
with people I've never met.
People who tonight
are still only shadows in my mind,
but who will soon fill
the days and nights of my tomorrows.
In 1945, as a 3-month-old, Alexandra Moltke 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.
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."
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.
She acted on stage occasionally throughout the 1970s and '80s, but it was her participation
in the 1982 Claus von Bulow trial that brought her unwanted worldwide fame.
The trial seemed like a real-life soap opera ... a tremendously wealthy New York socialite
lay in an irreversible coma, and her husband stood accused of murder. The motive, prosecutors
claimed, was that von Bulow had received an ultimatum from his beautiful, aristocratic younger
lover. That lover was Alexandra Moltke Isles.
When she refused to take the stand voluntarily, Alexandra was subpoenaed. While the world
watched and listened, she 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.
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."
Alexadra 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.
With Lara Parker and David Selby
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!"
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