Friday, August 2, 2019

Sy Tomashoff Dead at 96

Sy Tomashoff, the seven-time Daytime Emmy winner who created the gothic atmosphere for the ABC soap opera Dark Shadows and spent 13 years on CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful, died Sunday at his Los Feliz home in Los Angeles. He was 96.

Seymour Tomashoff was born on September 11, 1922, in New York City. He attended Curtis High School on Staten Island and New York's City College before being sent to the Engineering Officer Training Program at Carnegie Tech at the outset of World War II.

He eventually served as a rifleman under General George S. Patton and was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge and a Bronze Star for valor.

Back home, Tomashoff received a bachelor's degree in architecture from Carnegie Tech in 1950, then landed a job as a scenic artist at ABC Studios in New York. In the '50s and '60s, he worked as an art director on such shows as The Edge of Night, Armstrong Circle Theater, East Side/West Side, For the People and The David Susskind Show.

Tomashoff joined series creator Dan Curtis at the beginning of Dark Shadows, which aired from June 1966 through April 1971. The daytime drama starred Jonathan Frid as vampire Barnabas Collins and — though filmed in a tiny New York studio — was set in a brooding mansion in the fictional town of Collinsport, Maine.

"The mood was always going to be mysterious," Tomashoff, who also served as an associate producer on the show, said in an interview. "It was always going to be, 'What's going to happen next? Is someone going to get hurt? Is something going to pop out from behind the drapery?'"

From Set Designer Sy Tomashoff spent many
hours designing the carriage house set for newlyweds Viki and Joe.
Working with a limited budget, Tomashoff used an imposing staircase, stained glass, amber light and a mix of carved wood and stone to get his point across. (He and Curtis scouted a sea-swept 1920s-built mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, that would be used for the building's exterior shots.)

Following Dark Shadows, Tomashoff reteamed with Lela Swift, a director on the show, on another ABC soap, Ryan's Hope, and received his first Daytime Emmy, for design achievement for a drama series, in 1981.

He went on to work on ABC's One Life to Live, NBC's Santa Barbara and CBS' Capitol before partnering with Bill Bell on a new CBS Los Angeles-set soap, The Bold and the Beautiful, in 1987. He won Daytime Emmys in 1988 and four more in 1991-94 before retiring in 2000 after "making the world safe for soaps," he said.

In the 1990s, Tomashoff served two terms as a governor for the Art Direction and Set Decoration peer group at the TV Academy.

Survivors include his wife, Naomi, with whom he celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary in May; sister Judith; daughters Ivy and Liz; son-in-law Jeff; grandchildren Samuel and Ahleea; nieces Maud and Maggie; and nephew Jeremy and his wife, Maritza.

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