A tribute to Dan Curtis, the late producer and director who created the television miniseries "Winds of War" and the 1960s gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows," was held Friday at the Marriott Hotel at the Brooklyn Bridge. Curtis died in March at age 78. Fans marked his passing as part of a three-day celebration of the 40th anniversary of "Dark Shadows," which ran between 1966 and 1971.
Curtis was born in Bridgeport, Conn., and was educated at Syracuse University. "Winds of War," starring Robert Mitchum, and "War and Remembrance" both garnered Emmys.
"Dark Shadows,"featuring an orphan from New York who travels to Maine to become a governess at Collinwood Manor, expanded the soap opera genre by including in its cast werewolves, ghostly apparitions, and, most famously, a reluctant vampire named Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid.The series achieved cult status and spawned two full-length films, novels, and a plethora of merchandise, from board games to comic books.
Nearly all the shows were taped at ABC Studios at 433 W. 53rd St. Shot with few retakes,"Dark Shadows" is affectionately remembered for the many mistakes characters made in delivering lines.
Following a video tribute to Curtis, the actress Kathryn Leigh Scott, whose roles on the show included Maggie Evans and Josette DuPres, arose to speak. She said she was glad that Curtis was able to enjoy an earlier tribute held on his 75th birthday. David Selby, who portrayed the young heartthrob Quentin Collins, recalled entering Curtis's office and, before trying out a scene for the director, removing the golf balls that lay around his green rug.
"I don't think he ever did a show where he was not fond of the actors," Mr. Selby said. He also noted that a woman recently told him she had a new baby she had named Quentin, after the character he played. Mr. Selby said he reckoned that, following the popularity of the show during the last years of the 1960s, "more than a few babies" were named Quentin. He added, to audience laughter: "None of them were my responsibility."
John Karlen spoke next. He had played the character Willie, a grave robber who, in his search for jewels, releases Barnabas from his coffin. Occasionally referring to his close friend as "Danny boy," Mr. Karlen recalled going to dinner every few weeks with Curtis. He was great on the set, Mr. Karlen recalled, "He let his actors do their job."
Jerry Lacy, whose roles on "Dark Shadows" included Reverend Trask, recalled the time Curtis called him to his office. Mr. Lacy arrived expecting to have to audition for the show. Instead, Curtis came out of his office, asking, "Are you Jerry?" "Yes," Mr. Lacy replied. "Can you start a week from Monday?" "Yes." "See you then."
The Knickerbocker spoke with some attendees, including Amanda Trujillo, who works as a receptionist at a trialconsulting firm in California. She explained that one reason "Dark Shadows"had such an effect was that it "was an escape hatch while the Vietnam War was going on." A resident of Hillsborough, N.J., Barbara Cutlip, who works for a book distributor, said she has been a fan of the show for 30 years. A doorman from White Plains, N.Y., Michael Enright, said he was drawn to the show as "a nostalgia thing." Concerned that it could cause nightmares, his mother didn't want him watching the show when he was growing up in Pelham, N.Y., but he used to try to watch it clandestinely anyway, he said.
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Someone no less biting than Barnabas Collins was the Algonquin wit Dorothy Parker (1893–1967). On Parker's birthday last Tuesday, the author Kevin Fitzpatrick, of the Dorothy Parker Society of New York, sat at a roundtable at the restaurant, collecting signatures to rename 44th Street Dorothy Parker Place. She lived, worked, and tried to commit suicide on that street, he said.
In attendance was Daniel Millstone, who blogs on local politics at dailygotham.com, and Marion Meade, who is writing a book on Nathanael West — the author of "Miss Lonelyhearts" and "The Day of the Locust" — and West's wife, Eileen McKenney.
Over in the Oak Room was a 90th birthday party for Hoy Wong, known as "Mr. Hoy," who has been chief mixologist at the Algonquin's Blue Bar for 27 years. He has been pouring drinks since 1948. The Knickerbocker asked him for the key to his longevity as bartender, and he said that bartending is his exercise every day. Asked what his favorite alcoholic beverage was, he replied, "I don't drink."