R.I.P Dan Curtis..... - U2 Feedback

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Old 04-02-2006, 11:12 AM   #1
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R.I.P Dan Curtis.....

Sadly, the genius creator/producer of "Dark Shadows" has passed away.

Who among us can forget the announcer at the end of each episode reminding us that..."Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis production...."

In later years, Dan Curtis also oversaw the productions of "Winds Of War" and "War and Remembrance".

This year, Dark Shadows celebrates its 40th anniversary and I was really looking forward to all the commemorative programs and interviews that he would have been involved in. Sadly that wasn't to be.

He will be fondly remembered.

The following is a tribute to Dan Curtis by Stuart Manning, webmaster of the Dark Shadows Journal at www.Collinwood.net


To audiences today, Dan Curtis represents a diminishing breed of producer. From the name of his production company to his canny ability to find mass-market entertainment from dense and diverse sources, Dan was a self-styled television mogul, with a brand of steely pragmatism and chutzpah that personified old-style showbusiness.

Born Daniel Mayer Cherkoss, Dan's early background was in the field of television advertising - an apprenticeship that served him well. His ability to unite a salesman's lure with pacy storytelling made him an intuitively skilled producer, fuelled by his rigorous self-belief and hearty leadership.

For a generation of children, he is represented in the nostalgic words of the daily continuity announcer signing off with "Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis Production." As Dan's first foray into television, it was perhaps the project that most captured his personality, with its mixture of brash ambition and larger-than-life characters.

Curtis famously conceived of Dark Shadows after dreaming the opening sequences of the first episode, and soon pitched the idea to ABC's head of drama, Leonard Goldberg. Goldberg recalls pointing out to Curtis that he had unwittingly rewritten Jane Eyre. "Is anyone doing it on daytime right now?" came the instant response.

As a novice to drama, Dan was a freewheeling show-runner who oversaw Dark Shadows with a devil-may-care attitude that made it burn brightly, though may ultimately have left the show running on empty. Faced with poor ratings, he would change gears without hesitation, and it was one of these impulsive moments that gave the show its crucial first ghost. Dan was nothing if not daring, and his "anything goes" attitude set the tone for one of television's most consistently creative programmes. In today's television industry, drama is frequently governed by lengthy story bibles and self-imposed rules. Dan had no rules: if something entertained him, it went in.

Socially, Curtis was equally charismatic, and the comradeship the Dark Shadows cast enjoyed owes no small debt to him. This sense of school-outing style camaraderie he encouraged held him in good stead when he took Dark Shadows to the movies for 1970’s House of Dark Shadows.

Translating Dark Shadows to the big screen was an instant ambition for Curtis, boldly taking the unprecedented step of adapting a soap opera for moviegoers. Along with disproving his skeptics, he used the project to establish himself as an instinctive and efficient director, opening a career path.

During the 1970s. he relocated to California and continued to generate projects for film and television. He produced a raft of acclaimed supernatural themed television movies, including the classics Trilogy of Terror and the Night Stalker Kolchak movies.

The 1980s were taken up with The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, Curtis' mammoth adaptations of Herman Wouk's novels, which struck a sombre note compared to his earlier work. These projects gave him a widespread acclaim and clutch of awards, firmly establishing him beyond the world of low budget chillers and TV movies. Without doubt, it was the project he was proudest of.

However, Dark Shadows is the show Curtis will forever be associated with, and ultimately that was an association he greeted with pride and enthusiasm. Up until his death, he pursued potential remakes of the show, eager to see his vision finally realised with a realistic production schedule removed from the constraints of sixties soundstages and live-on-tape recording. In 2004 his John Wells co-produced Dark Shadows pilot did not secure a series, and the failure of the project remained a great disappointment.

The same year saw Dan complete two final TV movies, Our Fathers, about the Catholic paedophile scandal, and Saving Milly, a story of a wife's struggle with Parkinson's. These fact-based dramas form a dignified closing chapter to the Curtis canon. Earlier this year, Dan's story began to draw to a close as his health began to fail. Tragically, in March 2006, only weeks before his own death, Dan lost his beloved wife Norma.

Dan Curtis only ever attended a single Dark Shadows fan event, and so to most fans will remain an enigma. We are left with fleeting interviews and a clutch of nostalgic stories from colleagues and friends. The story of him grinning with enthusiasm, whilst practicing his golf swing in his production office, is one of the many oft-recounted anecdotes that define him for the show's devotees. For a man who liked to combine work and play in equal measure, perhaps it's a perfect way to remember him.

Dark Shadows was a Dan Curtis Production through and through, and his death casts a sombre note over the show’s 40th Anniversary celebrations. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.

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Old 04-02-2006, 10:41 PM   #2
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Wow what a loss. Curtis put out some excellent work in his career, all favorites of mine, especially Dark Shadows!

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Old 05-19-2006, 01:01 PM   #3
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ooh i adore dark shadows
i was so so sad when this

i am pleased to find other
dark shadows fans on here
it takes a special type of person
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