TV director Dan Curtis, who won an Emmy for the miniseries “War and Remembrance” and created the series “Dark Shadows,” died of cancer Monday in Los Angeles. He was 78.
Curtis was Emmy-nommed for producing and directing for miniseries “The Winds of War.” He created, directed and exec produced the gothic afternoon soap “Dark Shadows,” which revolved around the powerful Collins family of Maine. Curtis encouraged the writers to delve into ghostly topics, and when the vampire character Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid, was introduced, the show became a hit. “Dark Shadows” ran for 1,225 episodes on ABC from 1966 to 1971 and spawned two feature spinoffs and a 1991 TV remake.
Born in Bridgeport, Conn. , he graduated Syracuse U. and started his career as a syndication sales agent with NBC and MCA. He created the “Challenge Golf” show for ABC and went on to launch The CBS Match Play Golf Classic, which ran for a decade.
After “Dark Shadows'” long run, Curtis went on to produce and direct TV movies incuding “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekll & Mr. Hyde,” “The Night Stalker,” “Trilogy of Terror,” “The Turn of the Screw” and “Dracula” with Jack Palance.
On the bigscreen, he directed and produced “Burnt Offerings,” a 1976 haunted house pic starring Karen Black, Oliver Reed and Bette Davis.
TV movies “Bridgeport: When Every Day Was the Fourth of July” and “The Long Days of Summer,” which he directed and produced, were loosely based on his life.
In the 1980s, he was commissioned by Paramount TV head Barry Diller to produce, direct and co-write Herman Wouk’s 16 hour “The Winds of War,” which became the third-highest rated miniseries on TV. It was followed by “War and Remembrance,” a 29 hour sequel, which also won a DGA Award and the Golden Globe for miniseries or motion picture.
More recently, he produced and directed “The Love Letter” for the Hallmark Hall of Fame and directed “Saving Milly” for CBS, and “Our Fathers” for Showtime.
He is survived by two daughters.
Donations may be made to Dr. Jeff Cummings Alzheimer’s Research, UCLA Alzheimer’s Disease Center, 710 Westwood Plaza, Suite 20238, Los Angeles, 90095.