Dan Curtis

Dan Curtis

Curtis continued in the horror genre for much of the late 60s and early 70s in a series of small screen remakes of classics like "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (ABC, 1968), "Frankenstein" (ABC, 1973) and "Dracula" (CBS, 1974). He served as producer of the pilots "The Night Stalker" (ABC, 1972) and "The Night Strangler" (ABC, 1973) which introduced audiences to Darren McGavin in his signature role of Carl Kolchak (although Curtis was not involved in the subsequent ABC series). "Trilogy of Terror" (ABC, 1975) was another memorable foray in the genre, with Karen Black headlining separate segments, the best-known featuring her pursued by a fetish doll. The actress also headed the cast (alongside Bette Davis and Oliver Reed) of Curtis' big screen haunted house story "Burnt Offerings" (1976). By the late 70s, however, Curtis was moving away from genre fare mining his childhood for the above average "When Every Day Was Fourth of July" (NBC, 1978), about an attorney (Dean Jones) who represents an accused murderer at the behest of his nine-year-old daughter. "The Long Days of Summer" (ABC, 1980) was a sequel-cum-series-pilot with Jones reprising his role of a crusading attorney. For much of the 80s, though, Curtis concentrated on his dream project, producing and directing a miniseries adaptation of Herman Wouk's massive novel "The Winds of War" (ABC, 1983). This 16-hour miniseries, filmed over a 13-month period at a cost some $40 million (making it the then-most expensive program in the medium's history), fictionalized events leading up to America's entry into WWII and proved a critical and ratings winner. Most of the cast, including leads Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen and John Houseman, were singled out for praise. The inevitable follow-up was longer (close to 30 hours) and more expensive (in excess of $100 million) but it brought Curtis a well-deserved Emmy as the Outstanding Miniseries of 1988-89. By the 90s, Curtis' output slowed a bit. He wrote, executive produced and directed "Me and the Kid" (1993), a low-budget feature knock-off of the then-popular "Home Alone" films. On the small screen, Curtis was executive producer and director of the miniseries "Intruders" (CBS. 1992), purportedly based on the recollections of UFO abductees. (A film documentary "In Advance of the Landing" followed in 1993.) In 1996, he revisited one of his more famous TV-movies with "Trilogy of Terror II" (USA Network) with Lysette Anthony subbing for Karen Black. More recently, Curtis was in the director's chair for the underrated "The Love Letter" (CBS, 1998), a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation adapted from a Jack Finney short story about a 20th Century man who carries on an unlikely correspondence with a Civil War-era woman.