LOS ANGELES -- Dan Curtis, a producer and director who brought the epic miniseries ''The Winds of War" and ''War and Remembrance" to television and created the offbeat soap opera ''Dark Shadows," died yesterday. He was 78.
Mr. Curtis, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor four months ago, died at his Brentwood area home, said Jim Pierson, a spokesman for Mr. Curtis's family and for Dan Curtis Productions.
Norma Mae Klein, Mr. Curtis's wife of 54 years, died March 7 of heart failure, Pierson said.
Mr. Curtis's varied, five-decade television career included the 1960s show ''Challenge Golf" featuring Gary Player and Arnold Palmer and continued through 2005 with two made-for-television movies, ''Saving Milly" and ''Our Fathers."
''Saving Milly," which aired on CBS, was based on political pundit Mort Kondracke's memoir detailing his late wife's struggle with Parkinson's disease. Showtime's ''Our Fathers" examined the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal.
Mr. Curtis, born Daniel Mayer Cherkoss in Bridgeport, Conn., graduated from Syracuse University in 1950 and became a salesman for NBC and then MCA Television, where he sold syndicated programs.
After creating ''Challenge Golf" for ABC in 1962, the golfing enthusiast formed his own company and in 1963 started ''The CBS Match Play Golf Classic," which ran for a decade and received an Emmy for achievement in sports.
Mr. Curtis's pitch to ABC for a Gothic-flavored soap opera led to the creation of the 1966 series ''Dark Shadows," about odd, supernatural goings-on at a family estate in Maine. The popular heroic vampire character, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid), was added in 1967.
The show, which ended production in 1971, became a cult favorite with young viewers. It spawned two feature films, ''House of Dark Shadows" (1970) and ''Night of Dark Shadows" (1971), both directed by Mr. Curtis, and a 1991 NBC prime-time series starring Ben Cross.
Mr. Curtis reached a career high as producer, director, and co-writer of 1983's sweeping ''The Winds of War," based on Herman Wouk's novel. The 16-hour drama for ABC, starring Robert Mitchum and Ali McGraw, remains among television's high-rated miniseries.
It was successfully followed by the Emmy-winning, 29-hour sequel, ''War and Remembrance," which cost about $140 million to produce, Pierson said. It aired in 1988-89 and included Jane Seymour and John Gielgud among its stars.
Mr. Curtis leaves his daughters Cathy and Tracy.