Dan Curtis (born Daniel Mayer Cherkoss; August 12, 1927 – March 27, 2006) was an American director and producer of television and film, best known among fans of horror films for his afternoon TV series Dark Shadows and TV films such as Trilogy of Terror. Dark Shadows originally aired from 1966 to 1971 and has aired in syndication for nearly 40 years. Curtis was responsible for the 1991 remake of Dark Shadows, which was canceled due to low ratings.
For the general audience, Curtis is best known as the director and producer of the two epic 1980s miniseries The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, based on two novels by Herman Wouk, which follow the lives of two American families through the whole Second World War.
Life and career
His series of macabre films include House of Dark Shadows, Night of Dark Shadows, The Night Stalker (for many years holding the record ratings of the most-watched TV movie—and inspired the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker), Intruders, The Night Strangler, Burnt Offerings, Trilogy of Terror, The Norliss Tapes (a 1973 pilot for an unproduced series starring Roy Thinnes), Curse of the Black Widow, Dead of Night, Scream of the Wolf and others. He worked frequently with sci-fi/horror writer Richard Matheson. Curtis was producer and/or director of a number of television adaptations of horror-related productions including The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968), Dracula (1973), Frankenstein (1973), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973), and The Turn of the Screw (1974).
In 1978, Curtis made a departure from his usual macabre offerings, when he wrote, produced, and directed the sentimental NBC television film When Every Day Was the Fourth of July. Although fictionalized, the film was semi-autobiographical, based on his childhood growing up in Bridgeport, Connecticut in the 1930s. The film was originally intended to be a pilot for a potential series, but when the series was not picked up by the NBC network, Curtis produced and directed the 1980 television movie sequel The Long Days of Summer, this time airing on the ABC network.
His miniseries The Winds of War was nominated for four Emmy Awards.
He also directed the War and Remembrance mini-series which was the continuation of The Winds of War. This mini-series was 30 hours in length and was split into two segments, Chapters I-VII and VII, the final chapter. This series received 15 Emmy Award nominations and won for best miniseries, special effects and single-camera production editing. The miniseries was nominated for Emmy Awards for best actor (John Gielgud), actress (Jane Seymour), supporting actor (Barry Bostwick) and supporting actress (Polly Bergen).
Curtis died of a brain tumor in his home on March 27, 2006, twenty days after the death of his wife Norma.
Curtis' rights to Dark Shadows remain with his estate, which signed a deal with Warner Bros. for a new Dark Shadows movie. The film stars Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins and was released in May 2012.