Dan Curtis
Daniel Mayer Cherkoss[1]

(1927-08-12)August 12, 1927
DiedMarch 27, 2006(2006-03-27) (aged 78)
OccupationFilm director, television director, television producer
Norma Mae Klein
(m. 1952⁠–⁠2006)
(her death)

Dan Curtis (born Daniel Mayer Cherkoss; August 12, 1927 – March 27, 2006[1]) was an American director, writer, and producer of television and film, known among fans of horror films for his afternoon TV series Dark Shadows and TV films such as Trilogy of Terror.[2][3] 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 because of low ratings.

For the general audience, Curtis is also 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 entirety of World War II.[4][5][6][7]


Curtis's series of macabre films includes 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 and its belated sequel Trilogy of Terror II, The Norliss Tapes (a 1973 pilot for an unproduced series starring Roy Thinnes), Curse of the Black Widow, Dead of Night, and Scream of the Wolf. He worked frequently with sci-fi/horror writers Richard Matheson and William F. Nolan. Curtis was producer and/or director of a number of television adaptations of classic horror texts including The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968), Frankenstein (1973), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973), Dracula (1974), 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 1983 miniseries The Winds of War was nominated for four Emmy Awards.

Curtis also directed the War and Remembrance miniseries, which was the continuation of The Winds of War. The program was 30 hours in length, split into two segments. Chapters I-VII aired in November 1988. The remaining five parts, Chapters VIII-XII, were billed as "The Final Chapter", and aired in May 1989. The miniseries received 15 Emmy Award nominations, including for best actor (John Gielgud), actress (Jane Seymour), supporting actor (Barry Bostwick), and supporting actress (Polly Bergen). The show won Emmys for best miniseries, special effects, and single-camera production editing.

The New York Times profiled Curtis while in post-production on War and Remembrance.[8]

Curtis's 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, was directed by Tim Burton, and was released in May 2012. After the film's end credits, there is a dedication to Dan Curtis.

Personal life

Born Daniel Cherkoss in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Curtis attended Syracuse University before becoming a syndicated television show salesman.[1]

Curtis died on March 27, 2006 at his home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, twenty days after the death of his wife Norma. He was survived by two daughters.[1]


As Director

Year Title Functioned as Notes
Director Writer Producer
1968-1969 Dark Shadows yes (20 episodes) yes yes
1970 House of Dark Shadows yes no yes
1971 Night of Dark Shadows yes yes yes
1973 The Night Strangler yes no yes
1973 The Norliss Tapes yes no yes
1973 The Invasion of Carol Enders yes no yes
1974 Scream of the Wolf yes no yes
1974 Bram Stoker's Dracula yes no yes
1974 Melvin Purvis: G-Man yes no yes
1974 The Turn of the Screw yes no yes
1974 The Wide World of Mystery yes (episode: “Nightmare at 43 Hillcrest”) yes (2 episodes) yes
1974 The Great Ice Rip-Off yes no yes
1975 Trilogy of Terror yes no yes
1975 The Kansas City Massacre yes no yes
1976 Burnt Offerings yes yes yes
1977 Dead of Night yes no yes
1977 Curse of the Black Widow yes no yes
1983 The Winds of War (miniseries) yes no yes
1996 Trilogy of Terror II yes yes no
1998 The Love Letter yes no no
2005 Our Fathers yes no no

As Producer

Year Title Notes
1972 The Night Stalker first Kolchak film
1973 Frankenstein also co-writer
1991 Dark Shadows re-imagining of the 1966–71 series


  1. ^ a b c d Carter, Bill (March 29, 2006). "Dan Curtis, Producer of 'Winds of War' TV Series, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  2. ^ Dark Shadows Journal Online: Remembering Dan Curtis Linked 2013-08-27
  3. ^ Fangirl Magazine: Memories: Dan Curtis Linked 2013-08-27
  4. ^ The New York Times, March 29, 2006: Dan Curtis, Producer of 'Winds of War' TV Series, Dies at 78 Linked 2013-08-27
  5. ^ USA Today, March 27, 2006: TV producer Dan Curtis dies at 78 Linked 2013-08-27
  6. ^ Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2006: Dan Curtis, Obituary Linked 2013-08-27
  7. ^ The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, March 29, 2006: Director-Producer Dan Curtis Passes Linked 2013-08-27
  8. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (November 6, 1988). "TELEVISION; Waging Wouk's 'War and Remembrance'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2017.