Wednesday, August 5, 2015

'Ryan's Hope' and 'Dark Shadows' Director Lela Swift Dead at 96

Lela Swift
Lela Swift died on Tuesday, August 4 at her Santa Monica home of natural causes. She was 96.

Swift went from gopher to assistant stage manager on CBS-TV's Studio One in 1948, working in the studio over Grand Central Station. Later, she directed nearly 600 episodes of ABC cult soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971), and won three Daytime Emmys directing Ryan’s Hope (1975-1989).

Born Lela Siwoff on February 1, 1919, in New York City, she joined CBS in the early 1940s. She was assigned as a researcher to Dr. Peter Goldmark, who, as CBS’ chief engineer, developed the original technology for color television and the concept of video recording. As the network expanded nationwide, she cracked the boys club of TV directors, going on to helm for such shows as Studio One, Suspense, The Web, The Dupont Show Of The Week, The House On High Street, NBC’s The Purex Specials For Women and the farmland documentary Years Without Harvest.

In 1966, Swift joined producer Dan Curtis on the ABC gothic serial Dark Shadows. After a slow start, the show became a big hit; it ran five seasons and 1,225 episodes, and Swift directed nearly 600 of them and was a producer for the final seasons. In 1975, she helmed the first episode of ABC's daytime drama Ryan’s Hope. It would run for 14 years, and Swift directed many of its episodes, more than 825 in all.

Swift discusses her work on Dark Shadows in the interview below:

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