When Bewitched first aired on September 17, 1964, no one imagined it would still be alive today. While the show itself lasted eight seasons, Samantha’s signature twitchy nose is something nearly everyone still recognizes today. Multiple spin-offs hit the airwaves, and even a full-on remake was made starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, however, none of the attempts could quite capture what the original could.
A TV show remake has even been rumored, since NBC ordered a pilot in October 2014, however, nothing has yet come to fruition. While Samantha tried her best to keep her own secrets, the show’s producers weren’t able to keep everything hush-hush. Here are some things you probably didn’t know about Bewitched. See what Tabitha herself has to show about the show!
Elizabeth Montgomery Assumes Multiple Roles in Bewitched
Not only did Elizabeth Montgomery star as the leading witch, the lovable Samantha Stephens, she also played Samantha’s cousin Serena. When given credit for playing the mischievous Serena, beginning in the second season, she used the pseudonym Pandora Spocks. Montgomery raised her voice to make Serena’s character sound differently, but would sometimes slip back into Samantha’s voice on accident. Serena appeared in 25 episodes of Bewitched.
Montgomery’s performance on Bewitched earned her four award nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and three nominations for Golden Globe Award for Best Female TV Star.
The TV show was created after Sol Saks watched the films I Married A Witch and Bell, Book and Candle. Saks modeled the script for the pilot episode after the films. He has said in interviews since the show that he wasn’t worried about any litigation, considering that both movies were owned by Columbia Pictures, which also owned Screen Gems – the company that produced Bewitched.
Witchcraft and everything surrounding it trends every so often in pop culture. It came back in a big way in the 1960s, as women took an interest in the goddess traditions of Europe and the Middle East. Witchcraft and female spirituality often begins trending in parallel to women’s liberation, and Saks saw this opportunity.
Anti-Aging Potion in Real Life
Elizabeth was quite the babe back in the ’60s and kept her youthful appearance into the later years of her life. She must have put an anti-aging spell on herself as she stunned everyone with her beauty.
“She enchanted every man she ever met,” said the author of “Twitch Upon A Star,” Herbie Pilato. Those men include high profile entertainers Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, and Gary Cooper. In the lates ’60s she was considered one of the most beautiful and desirable women in Hollywood.
Richard Stanford Cox, AKA Dick Sargent
Although Dick York was originally cast as Darrin Stephens, actor Richard Stanford Cox was the first choice for the role. Known professionally as Dick Sargent, the actor was chosen to play the role and waited for the producers to name an actress for the lead role of Samantha Stephens.
While they producers searched for the perfect woman, Sargent ended up finding work elsewhere and backed out of Bewitched. He appeared as a regular on several television comedy shows, including Happy Family, Broadside, and The Tammy Grimes Show.
York Steps Up
After Richard Sargent originally passed on the role, next up was actor Richard Crenna. He was the next actor who would be offered the part of Darrin Stephens. Crenna had just spent several years on The Real McCoys, and directed some of the episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Crenna passed on the role.
Ultimately, actor Dick York ended up with the lead male role. Everything would circle back and Sargent would later take the role of Darrin Stephens after Dick York left the show. It’s kind of funny how Sargent ended up with the role at the end of the series. It’s also interesting to consider if the show would have lasted eight seasons with him in the first place.
Dick York’s Real Reason for Leaving
While Dick York’s departure was never explained on the show, he certainly had a good reason for it. York tore most of the muscles on the right side of his back while filming They Came to Cordura, and never recovered completely. Doctors gave him pain medication, but that wasn’t really a long-term solution and certainly wasn’t a great situation for continued filming.
By the third season of filming, York’s back pain was unbearable and he was constantly seizing up in debilitating pain. He would spend the next 18 months in bed on intense painkillers. Allegedly, he ended up becoming addicted to pain medication prescribed for his back pain.
Enter Dick Sargent
Dick York’s health declined dramatically. He said while filming “Daddy Does His Thing,” “I was too sick to go on. I had a temperature of 105, full of strong antibiotics, for almost 10 days. I went to work that day but I was sick. I lay in my dressing room after being in make-up, waiting to be called on the set. They knew I was feeling pretty rotten, and they tried to give me time to rest. I kept having chills. This was the middle of the summer and I was wearing a sheepskin jacket and I was chilling. I was shaking all over.”
During the fifth season of the filming of Bewitched, a doctor gave Dick York some B-12 during a lunch break on set. York had a horrible reaction to the vitamin and ended up having a seizure on set and was rushed to the hospital. He never returned and the show went Darrin-less for a few episodes until Dick Sargent stepped in.
Elizabeth Montgomery’s Real-Life Pregnancies
While filming Bewitched, actress Elizabeth Montgomery was pregnant three times! She married the director and producer of Bewitched, William Asher in 1963. The following year the couple welcomed their first child, William A. Asher. Her first pregnancy was hidden from the show.
However, another son and daughter would follow in the next five years, and producers were able to write those two pregnancies into the script. This added Tabitha and Adam to the Stephens family. Montgomery’s real-life pregnancies ended up enriching her TV family in a very natural way, which was also positive for the show.
Dick York’s Charm as Darrin Stephens
For the first five seasons of filming, Dick York played Darrin Stephens on Bewitched, the mortal husband of wife Samantha Stephens. York was a beloved actor throughout the 1960s due to his role on the series, but was also known for the ‘60s classic film, Inherit the Wind.
The cast and crew always praised York for his professional manner on set, even while he was suffering from excruciating pain. Director William Asher, who was also Montgomery’s husband, came to York’s hospital room and asked him, “Do you want to quit [the show]?” York replied, “If that’s all right with you, Billy.”
A Dirty Sense of Humor
In a 2017 interview with Fox News, Erin Murphy who played Tabitha on the show opened up about what the cast was really like. While Elizabeth Montgomery may have appeared as the wholesome girl-next-door, Murphy reveals she wasn’t afraid to get a little dirty. “She had a really dirty sense of humor…She was just one of those people who was so beautiful, but she wasn’t afraid to look silly –kind of like Lucille Ball…They could be really campy and funny. There was no fear there.”
Montgomery’s mother was a Broadway actress and her father was a film star. Her early introduction into acting and drama made her confidence and charisma shine even brighter.
Alice Pearce’s Private Battle
You might remember actress Alice Pearce as the quirky and nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz. In real life, Alice Pearce disappeared from the world of Bewitched suddenly she passed away in March 1966 from ovarian cancer. Pearce received her cancer diagnosis four months before she landed her role on the show.
She had surgery, but doctors informed her that her ovarian cancer was terminal. She never told her coworkers about her illness. Although, if you watch the second season of the show, Alice’s drastic weight loss was quite obvious.
Alice’s Emmy Award
Alice Pearce was awarded a posthumous Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy Award for her portrayal of nosy Gladys two months after her death.
The cast certainly must have still been reeling from her death, especially as she didn’t let anyone know about her illness.
Samantha’s Unorthodox Arm Workouts
Because there was no CGI, and everything had to be manually done and moved on set, Elizabeth was expected to keep her arms in the same position while the director yelled cut and everyone moved around her.
She was allegedly allowed to have crutch-like devices to help keep her arms up for long periods of time. She was only allowed to lower her arms and continue the scene when the director yelled, “Action!”
The Mysterious Theme Song
The famous song actually has lyrics! The lyrics are never sung over the opening credits, but the theme song for Bewitched actually had lyrics.
Some of the lyrics go, “Bewitched, Bewitched, You’ve got me in your spell. Bewitched, Bewitched, You know your craft so well.”
Steve Lawrence can be heard singing the lyrics in a clip on YouTube. The lyrics were written from Darrin’s perspective — if he knew that his wife was a witch.
Of course, it could also be interpreted as being about a man who is simply spellbound by the woman he is in love with.
Elizabeth Montgomery’s Obituary Is So Wrong
Elizabeth Montgomery was a private person who never felt the need to make her vital statistics public. At the time of her death, her age was published as 57. In actuality, the actress was 62.
Several obituaries also listed her as single because she didn’t reveal to the public her marriage to Robert Foxworth, whom she married a few years before her death.
Death Certificate Inconsistencies
In addition to her own obituaries listing her incorrect age and her incorrect marital status, her own death certificate even got her own name wrong!
Her death certificate also listed her as “Elizabeth A. Montgomery,” even though her middle name was Victoria.
Drunk on Set!
Cast members often drank on set and were sometimes filmed while drunk, including producer William Asher. The drinking was so pervasive that many fan sites were created to log the number of times in each episode that each character was seen drinking.
Then again, Bewitched was shot in the 1960s and the American public, in general, had a much more lax attitude toward drinking than in this day and age.
Record-Breaking Drinking Habits
In fact, here’s a list of some of the bars and nightclubs mentioned on the show: The Diamond Slipper, Dundee’s Bar (which Darrin refers to as “the best restaurant in town”), the Purple Popsicle night club, Joe’s Bar and Grill, Happy Times Bar, Hearthstone Bar/Restaurant, Golden Spoon Restaurant, and Elbow Room Cocktail Lounge.
Supposedly the rules were stricter when children were on set. Actors were apparently supposed to use iced tea to imitate the look of alcohols. Dick Wilson often played a drunk on the show. Maybe he knows how much acting was involved?
Elizabeth Almost Didn’t Make the Cut
The show’s creator, Sol Saks, really wanted an actress named Tammy Grimes to play as his lead witch (who was to be called Cassandra, not Samantha, originally).
Saks liked the fact that Grimes had such a naturally “elfin” appearance. In the end, Sol Saks and Bill Asher went with Elizabeth Montgomery for this series.
Cassandra Wasn’t Meant to Be
While Tammy Grimes actually auditioned for the original role she remained under contract with Screen Gems and wasn’t able to take the job.
The character was renamed Samantha, Elizabeth Montgomery was cast and the rest is history.
Home Is Where the Magic Is
The house that was used for the 1959 movie Gidget was copied, in reverse, for the Bewitched set. The patio and interior living rooms were duplicates from another Gidget movie.
The facade of the home also appeared in shows like Dennis the Menace and I Dream of Jeannie.
Gladys Kravitz’s Hand-Me-Down
This lot and its neighborhood of homes (known officially as “Blondie Street” after the early movie serial that followed the adventures of Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead) has been in use for about 50 years and can be seen in a variety of television shows and films — in fact, often at the same time!
For example, during the run of Bewitched, Samantha and Darrin’s nosy neighbor Mrs. Kravitz also lived in the Partridge home. The Partridge Family debuted before Bewitched ended its run, so for two seasons, both the Partridges and the Kravitz shared a home!
Gladys Kravitz and The Partridge Family
The house lived in by the Partridge family and Gladys Kravitz was a modest two-story house with a white picket fence. The fence was taken down in 1999, and bay windows now replace the front windows used in the Bewitched days. The front door is also fairly different. This picture is from 2000.
If you’re facing the Partridge house, the home next door to the right was used in I Dream of Jeannie as Major Nelson and Jeannie’s house (more on that later). For The Partridge Family, about three feet of Jeannie’s front yard had to be removed in order to widen the driveway to accommodate the bus. It has since been restored to its original width.
There Were Two Tabithas?
Hey, they were the original Olsen twins! Fraternal twins named Erin and Diane Murphy were cast to share the role of the Stephens’ daughter, Tabitha. It is quite common for twins to be used, particularly for the parts of babies.
Babies have their own personality, so at any given time if one does not cooperate with filming the other can be used.
A Natural Talent
One baby from the Murphy twins definitely cooperated more than the other. It was clear right away that Erin really took to acting and would be the star of the show.
She was used for close-up shots and speaking scenes, while Diane was primarily used in long shots.
The Truth behind Their Costumes
Kasey Rogers, who played Louise Tate, admitted that supporting actors provided their own wardrobes, and would bring their own clothes into the studio a week before filming.
The wardrobe department would clean and press them.
A Special Brooch
Agnes Moorehead often wore a starburst brooch that was set with 8.5 karats of old-mine diamonds. Elizabeth Montgomery often admired the pin.
When Agnes passed away in 1974, she actually bequeathed the brooch to her TV daughter. What a lovely sentiment!
Off-Camera Friendships Bloomed
While on the show Darrin may have despised Endora, the two were great friends off-camera.
In fact, Agnes Moorehead was closer to Dick York than any other cast member.
Moorehead admired York’s talent on the screen and wasn’t pleased when he was replaced with Dick Sargent.
few episodes were filmed with no Darrin at all.
Marion Lorne’s Interesting Collection
It’s hard to forget the lovable but bumbling character of Aunt Clara. In the show, Aunt Clara’s obsession with doorknobs was based on actress Marion Lorne’s real-life obsession with them.
The actress had a collection of more than 1,000 antique door openers.
Endearing But Clumsy Aunt Clara
The character Darrin was constantly at odds with the fact that Samantha was a witch, a tension that carried over to most of her relatives.
However, despite this strangeness, Aunt Clara was able to endear herself to Darrin. How could you not fall in love with the lovable lady?
Larry Tate’s Son’s Tragic Naming & Fate
When Larry and Louise Tate were blessed with a son on Bewitched, the actor who played Larry, David White, requested that he be named Jonathan.
White had a son off-screen named Jonathan who he’d raised as a single father after his wife died of complications during her second pregnancy.
David White’s Heartbreaking Sorrow
Tragically, Jonathan was a passenger on Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
David died of a heart attack two years later and the pair is buried together at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
The Secret Behind Samantha’s Magic
Since CGI didn’t exist in the 1960s, stagehands worked hard to produce Samantha’s “magic.”
If she wanted to quickly tidy up the living room, Elizabeth Montgomery would stand in place with her arms up while the director yelled, “Cut!” and stagehands frantically ran to remove the clutter.
War of the Witches
It’s been said that Elizabeth Montgomery was not pleased when I Dream Of Jeannie debuted on NBC just one year after Bewitched was introduced on rival network ABC.
In fact, the two shows were long compared while on air and the comparison remains even now!
Both shows were about gorgeous blonde women with magical powers – Jeannie was a 2,000-year-old genie who falls in love with a NASA astronaut – and they both shared similar plot lines at times.
But Elizabeth never felt any personal animosity toward I Dream Of Jeannie’s stars Barbara Eden or Larry Hagman.
Tragedy over the Airwaves
On April 4, 1968, Bewitched was interrupted to announce the tragic news that civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated.
Eerily, the first day of rehearsal for the show was on Nov. 22, 1963, the day of the assassination of President Kennedy.
The episode that was interrupted to announce the assassination of Martin Luther King was “I Confess,” in which Darrin becomes upset with Samantha for using her magic excessively.
He thinks she’ll “out” herself as a witch this way.
Never Actually a Nose Wiggle
Montgomery’s nose wiggle was actually a camera trick, according to Erin Murphy, the actress who played the daughter, Tabitha. If you look closely, you’ll notice that Samantha’s nose never wiggles.
It’s actually her upper lip. Some folks claim her mouth moving did move her nose.
Sharing Actors with Jeannie
Bewitched was home to a slew of amusing, unusual side characters. One favorite was Uncle Arthur, who was played by Paul Lynde. Interestingly, Lynde also appeared three times on I Dream of Jeannie, once as an IRS agent, once as a film director and also as a NASA commander.
Paul Lynde was also known to play the rat “Templeton” on Charlotte’s Web.
Dr. Bombay the Witch Doctor
The Stephens’ family physician was, naturally, a witch doctor named Dr. Bombay. Portrayed by actor Bernard Fox, Dr. Bombay usually showed up in an outlandish costume. He also made two appearances on the spin-off series Tabitha.
Bernard Fox was an amazing character actor who went on to make appearances in other shows and films throughout the years including movies like Titanic and The Mummy. He passed away in December of 2016.
Many of the stars and guest stars of Bewitched were heavy smokers. Elizabeth Montgomery was supposedly a chain smoker, and Paul Lynde was too. Dick York smoked three packs a day!
In a later interview, Tabitha actress Erin Murphy said, “I remember my parents were always saying ‘smoking is bad, smoking is bad,’ and I remember thinking ‘If smoking is bad, then why is everybody around here doing it?'”
A Real-Life Curse?
Some fans speculate that there was a real-life curse on the show. A high percentage of its cast ended up dying of cancer-related causes. Many also died young. Besides Elizabeth Montgomery, other major cast members to die at relatively young ages (under 65) include Alice Pearce (cancer), Paul Lynde (heart attack), Dick York (emphysema), and Dick Sargent (cancer).
It’s hard to say whether this sad statistic can be attributed to “witchcraft” or to unhealthy lifestyle decisions.
Before Jaws, There Was Bewitched
In 1966, Richard Dreyfuss had one of his first TV roles ever with an appearance on the episode “Man’s Best Friend.”
In it, he plays a character named Rodney, a bratty little warlock who Samantha used to babysit.
In the episode in which Richard Dreyfuss appears, Rodney is older now and professes his love to Samantha, and turns himself into a dog in order to stay in her home.
Darrin falls in love with the dog, and Sam is at her wit’s end trying to figure out a way to get rid of it! Dreyfuss is now, of course, a huge Hollywood star.
One Weary Witch
Elizabeth Montgomery grew tired of Bewitched and playing the same old character year after year. Allegedly, she was ready to throw in the towel after the fifth season.
Show producers offered her so much money that she couldn’t walk away, but her performances in the last three seasons were noticeably lackluster.
Way to Show ‘Em
Elizabeth Montgomery was famously known and famously remembered for her liberal political and social views. She even brought her views to set with her.
At the end of her time in the Samantha role, Montgomery stopped wearing a bra during filming, as a symbol of support for the women’s lib movement.
More Tabitha, Please
Bewitched led to a spin-off show called Tabitha. The concept was based on the adult life of Samantha and Darrin’s daughter, Tabitha.
The show was disappointing to many fans since the original actress (Erin Murphy) wasn’t involved, and the series didn’t do well.
In the spin-off series, Tabitha was played by Lisa Hartman (Black), who went on to have a successful career as an actress. Her most notable role was as Cathy Geary on the hit series Knots Landing.
Lisa eventually married country musician Clint Black. Lisa’s mother Jonni Hartman Rogers, an entertainment publicist, died in February 2017.
Tabitha’s Post-Bewitched Life
After Bewitched, original Tabitha actress Erin Murphy had roles on shows like Lassie, made dozens of commercial appearances, and did some swimwear modeling. She even auditioned for parts with other stars like Helen Hunt and Jodie Foster.
Her family moved to Orange County gave her the chance to be a “normal” teenager, and she was crowned homecoming queen at her high school.
Tabitha’s Later Years
In later years, Erin Murphy worked as a makeup artist, a casting director, stunt double, fashion stylist, an acting teacher, and a motivational speaker.
One of her most important roles, however, is as an outspoken advocate for Autism awareness; she has revealed that her son Parker was diagnosed with the condition. She certainly has made an impact with her time outside of Hollywood!
People are often curious about the behind-the-scenes relationship between Samantha and Tabitha. Child actress Erin Murphy recently gave an ABC interview about her time on Bewitched. She revealed that she was very close to her television parents, even calling them by the nicknames “Darren Daddy” and “Mantha Mommy.”
In the interview, Murphy said, “I looked to her [Montgomery] as a parent, and she would tell me what to do like a parent. In a lot of ways, I’m so much more like her than I am my own mom, which is hilarious.” She was also close with Agnes Moorehead, who played her grandmother.
Montgomery’s husband, Bewitched director William Asher, says that the wriggle is something she did naturally when she was frustrated or nervous.
Although, her TV daughter Erin Murphy also said it was more of a mouth wiggle than a nose wiggle. Either way, that’s quite a magical twitch she had!
“The Darrin Syndrome”
Samantha’s husband Darrin was played by more than one actor. Without warning or explanation, producers replaced Dick York with Dick Sargent, apparently hoping the audience either wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t care.
The act of switching out actors without explanation like this became known as “The Darrin Syndrome.” Poor Dick York left the show due to chronic back pain.
The producers not only switched the actor who played Darrin, but they were also forced to trade actresses for the part of nosey neighbor Gladys Kravitz.
The part was first played by Alice Pearce, until her untimely death from ovarian cancer. Later, Sandra Gould was given the part.
Switching Darrins Was Bad for Ratings
The Darrin switch took place after the show had already been on the air for three seasons. Audiences usually don’t take too kindly to such a massive switch of the main character, and the 1960s audiences were no different.
Audiences noticed the difference, and ratings plummeted for the show’s final three years. Fans just weren’t willing to accept an unfamiliar face in the role.
Darrin’s secretary on the show was played by multiple actresses, including Marcia Wallace, who eventually voiced teacher Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons.
Marcia also played Bob Newhart’s secretary on The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s.
Witchy Cousin Similarities
Samantha’s cousin Serena was similar to Samantha in a few ways. One of the most major ways in which they were similar was her love of surrounding herself with mere mortals. She even dated a few! We wouldn’t call her a sixties swinger, but she definitely had more hippie tendencies. She generally was in favor of Samantha’s marriage to a mortal, though she teased them for being less cool than she was.
Samantha and Serena usually weren’t filmed in the same scenes, because camera technology had not advanced completely. However, they did sometimes try split-screen filming and using a double from the rear to show both characters, both played by Montgomery, at the same time.
Premise of Inspiration
In the film Bell, Book, and Candle, blonde beauty Kim Novak plays a witch living in modern-day New York City. The film was a romantic comedy and also starred legendary film star Jimmy Stewart as the male lead.
As previously mentioned, the film was the inspiration for the TV series, according to the producer, Sol Saks.
Elizabeth Montgomery’s Magical Transformation
She may have been able to get anything she wanted while she was playing a witch, but she wasn’t so happy off-screen. She dated Elvis, Dean Martin, and Gary Cooper, but her “father complex” supposedly kept drawing her to abusive lovers.
She befriended JFK, but nobody knows if anything happened romantically between them.
Montgomery gave birth to her real-life daughter Rebecca Asher on the birthday of the twins playing Tabitha (June 17th). Was this a coincidence or did something more magical take place?
The picture here is of Diane Murphy, one of the ators who played Tabitha (along with her twin Erin) and Elizabeth’s real daughter Rebecca Asher.
RIP, Dick York
Dick York was a life long smoker. For him, the habit ultimately had dire consequences. After his back accident, Dick reportedly depended on pain medication.
Unfortunately, York died of complications from emphysema. He was just 63. He’s buried in Rockford, Michigan.
Bernard Fox Dies at 89
After a full career, including playing Dr. Bombay on Bewitched, actor Bernard Fox passed away December 14, 2016. Bernard also played roles in other well-known films including James Cameron’s 1997 epic Titanic.
Fox was 89 years old when he passed away in Van Nuys, California due to heart failure.
The End of an Era & TV Show
Bewitched lasted for eight seasons, and many feel that the final season was one too many.
Sagging ratings, an increase in competition, fewer regular cast appearances, and a reduced writing staff have been cited by some fans as possible reasons that the eighth season of the show was lackluster.
On National Coming Out Day (October 11) in 1991, Bewitched star Dick Sargent appeared on a Geraldo Rivera TV event and officially announced his homosexuality. Although he acknowledged that his decision to come out could have harmed his career, he said in a later interview that the relief of living openly as his “real self” was worth it.
“I’ll probably never be allowed to play a father symbol again. I’m afraid for my career. I’m probably gonna lose a whole lot of work … I may even have to sell the house someday, but this is more important.” He continued, “I like myself, probably more than I have most of my life.” In 1992, Elizabeth Montgomery co-Marshalled the 1992 Los Angeles Pride Parade with Sargent in support of his decision. The event is pictured above.
A Long-Lasting Legacy
Bewitched is still popular with fans today. Despite having aired its final episode several decades ago, many young people are familiar with Samantha’s clan and their witchy ways. The show can still be found on TV, having aired throughout the world in syndication since the show ended in 1972.
The show has also been released on DVD so that new generation of viewers can fall in love with the classic show. The complete series can be found online for just $30, so if you are looking to get your hands on this iconic television series you are in luck!
The show was so popular that a movie based on the series was released in 2005. The romantic comedy fantasy film had a big name cast, featuring stars Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell in the lead roles. In supporting roles were famous Hollywood stars Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Carole Shelley, Heather Burns, and David Alan Grier.
The movie, sadly, did not live up to the charms of the original series and was a critical and commercial failure. Despite having a budget of $85 million, the film earned only $63 million in domestic grosses.
What Went Wrong?
The movie’s creators might have been better off making a movie about Samantha herself, a character that fans already know and love. Instead, the movie centered on a young woman named Isabel Bigelow (played by Nicole Kidman) who moves to Los Angeles and finds herself starring in a remake of the beloved sitcom. Starring as her on-screen husband Darrin is Will Ferrell’s character, Jack Wyatt.
Unbeknownst to the cast and crew of the remade television series, Isabel is actually a real-life witch. She gets into the typical mishaps and scrapes that Samantha would on the show, but the movie didn’t have any of the original series’ charms.
A Critical Failure
Critics failed to respond well to the movie and viewers seemed to agree. The popular film critiquing website, Rotten Tomatoes, gave it 75 percent negative reviews based on a total of 185 reviews. About the film, the website says, “Bewitched is haunted by scattered laughs and a lack of direction.”
The film had a budget of $85 million but did not gross much more worldwide. It earned $63,313,159 in the United States and just $68,100,000 worldwide for a total worldwide gross of $131,413,159. It was quite a disappointment, especially as the film was anticipated to be successful due to its built-in fan base.
Golden Raspberry Awards
The film adaptation was nominated for many Golden Raspberry Awards, a spoof of the Oscar ceremony which, instead of nominating cast and crew for their notable achievements, instead honors the worst performances in films from the previous year. The film earned several nominations for less than flattering categories, including Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Remake or Sequel, and Worst Actor (for Will Ferrell’s performance as both Jack Wyatt and Darrin.
Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman were the only members of the cast and crew to actually win in their category, earning a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple. Ouch.
It’s All about Samantha
It seems that Samantha is a far too iconic role to go to just anybody. Despite the universal appeal of the show, a remake didn’t work simply because everyone thinks of Elizabeth Montgomery when they think of Bewitched. The iconic star is so beloved that watching any sort of adaptation without her in it is just…weird.
Many people fell in love with Elizabeth Montgomery during the show’s run, but a lot of them did not realize just how extraordinary of a woman she was. Far from being just a pretty face and a talented actress, Elizabeth Montgomery was also a political activist.
A Champion for Human Rights
You already know that Elizabeth Montgomery was a strong supporter of women’s rights and even appeared without a bra towards the end of the show in support of the women’s liberation movement. But she was also one of the first celebrities to support gay rights and to advocate on behalf of victims suffering from AIDS.
Elizabeth Montgomery spent much of her time volunteering with the AIDS Project Los Angeles as well as amfAR. Her support was very valuable to the movement and came at a critical time, at the height of the AIDS epidemic when much about the illness was not yet understood.
A Liberal Lady
Elizabeth Montgomery was well known for her liberal political views, and she used her status as a high-profile celebrity to raise awareness for many charitable and political causes. She was a champion of women’s rights, AIDS activism, and gay rights. Montgomery was also an outspoken pro-choice advocate and a critic of the Vietnam War.
She volunteered for the Los Angeles Unit of Learning Ally for which she recorded the best-selling book of poetry, When We Were Very Young, and also produced many radio and TV public service announcements. The organization records books and CDs as well as downloadable formats for disabled people.
A Documentary Star
While Elizabeth Montgomery will most likely always be best known for her role as Samantha on Bewitched, she also participated in quite a bit of more controversial work. Though many simply thought of her as an entertaining and beautiful actress, she wanted to use her talents for more “serious” work.
Elizabeth Montgomery was the narrator of two political documentaries which reflected her political beliefs. The first, released in 1988, was titled Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair. The other documentary, released in 1992, was called The Panama Deception and won an Academy Award, despite it being such a controversial film.
A Lasting Legacy
Even after her death, Elizabeth Montgomery was able to help people in need. Three years after she died, an auction of her clothing was held. The clothing was modeled by Erin Murphy, Elizabeth Montgomery’s on-screen daughter who played Tabitha on Bewitched.
The sale of her clothing was held to benefit a cause near and dear to Elizabeth Montgomery’s heart, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation of Los Angeles. The auction raised a lot of money to help one of the causes for which Elizabeth Montgomery had fought for during her lifetime and the sale of her clothing was a fitting tribute to the iconic actress.
Wonder Lake State Park
Elizabeth Montgomery bequeathed a special gift to the state of New York. The actress owned a summer home in Patterson, Putnam County, New York. After her death, the 794-acre estate was sold to the state of New York. It was then turned into Wonder Lake State Park. In keeping with Elizabeth Montgomery’s legacy, the state park is a magical place.
It was expanded for a total of 1,145 acres. The park has 8.7 miles of trails including a trail which passes a pond and encircles all of Wonder Lake. There are four other trails, covering other areas of the park. The park also protects parts of the Great Swamp watershed.
Tributes to Montgomery
Elizabeth Montgomery was posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star is located at 6533 Hollywood Blvd and was awarded to the actress for her work in television on January 4, 2008, 13 years after her death. Salem, Massachusetts, now infamous for being the location of the notorious Salem Witch Trials in the seventeenth century, erected a bronze statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens in June 2005.
Quite a witchy tribute to one of the most famous and celebrated “witches” in history! It seems that Elizabeth Montgomery’s legacy will live on and that she will not be forgotten.
Breaking the Good Girl Image
While Samantha was portrayed as a wholesome housewife on the show (in spite of her witchy ways), in real life Elizabeth Montgomery was not quite such a goody two shoes. The tell-all book, Twitch Upon a Star, reveals some of the juicier details of Elizabeth’s life.
Author Herbie Pilato said the actress “seemed drawn to troubled men, not nice guys” and that “she was always looking for the ‘bad boy,’ which may have been part of her rebellion against her father.” The author adds that Elizabeth Montgomery, who was known for playing a witch who only practiced white magic, “had a dark side to her.”
There is even some speculation that one of the unsuitable men Elizabeth Montgomery found herself drawn to was President John F. Kennedy. While all that is known for sure is that the pair became friends in the early sixties, Pilato wrote that Kennedy “chased almost every beautiful woman he met.”
Montgomery would have affairs with other famous men including ballet star Alexander Godunov, a noted alcoholic. She is also said to have had flings with film stars Gary Cooper and Dean Martin, both men significantly older than Montgomery. Montgomery was married four times and is rumored to have had affairs during her marriages.
A Family Affair
Elizabeth Montgomery’s third husband was Bill Asher, a noted film producer, director, and screenwriter. The pair were married in 1963, and in 1964, Asher began producing and directing Bewitched following success with the shows Our Miss Brooks and I Love Lucy. He won an Emmy in 1966 for his work on Bewitched. Like Montgomery, Bill Asher would be married a total of four times.
Elizabeth Montgomery was his second wife, with whom he had three children. They divorced in 1973, not too long after the cancellation of Bewitched. The marriage ended after Elizabeth fell in love with Richard Michaels, a director who also worked on the set of Bewitched.
The Cast of Bewitched Gets Involved
Elizabeth Montgomery is not the only member of the cast of Bewitched to participate in activism. After publicly coming out as gay, Dick Sargent became an outspoken advocate of gay rights issues. He called himself a “retroactive role model” and wanted to show young people that a person could be successful even though society’s attitudes towards the LGBT community at the time were far from positive.
He hoped that his example would help to combat the high suicide rates among LGBT youth. Sargent also worked throughout the 1980s with the Christian Children’s Fund which helped children in developing nations.
Dick York’s Homeless Help
The other person besides Dick Sargent to play Darrin on Bewitched, Dick York, also became involved in charitable acts towards the end of his life. York, who spent his last years battling emphysema after a lifetime of smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, used his time to do some good in the world.
He founded a private charity, called Acting for Life, to help the homeless as well as others in need. Working primarily from his home as he was bedridden by this time, Dick encouraged politicians, business people, and others to contribute money and other needed items to the organization.
Elizabeth Almost Didn’t Act
Elizabeth Montgomery’s acting career almost did not reach the extraordinary heights for which she became famous. Her first marriage was in 1955 when she was in her early 20s. Her first husband, New York socialite Fred Cammann, wanted Elizabeth to quit acting altogether. In a time when women were less likely to work outside of the home, his desires were typical. Yet Elizabeth wanted more.
She refused to be a stay at home wife and left her husband to pursue a career in California. The couple were divorced after just a year, and not too long after Elizabeth became an unparalleled star.
Drama Behind the Scenes?
According to Herbie Pilato, who wrote a tell-all book about Elizabeth Montgomery and the show Bewitched, Dick York was secretly in love with Elizabeth. His unrequited infatuation was allegedly part of the reason York was eventually replaced with Sargent. She also reportedly did not get along with Agnes Moorhead, who played her mother on the television series.
Agnes was apparently quite fond of Dick York and was angered at the decision to replace him on the show. She took her wrath out on Dick York’s replacement, Dick Sargent, being so harsh with him that she allegedly drove him to tears on several occasions.
Montgomery’s Career After the Show
After Bewitched finally ended (several seasons after Elizabeth Montgomery wanted to leave the show) the actress sought out roles that would take her away from the good girl image she had portrayed for nearly a decade. While still earning millions of dollars from Bewitched (by the end of the series, Montgomery owned 20 percent of the show and earned money from residuals for the rest of her life) she took on roles such as a sexual assault victim.
She also played axe killer Lizzie Borden in The Legend of Lizzie Borden. Researchers later found that Montgomery was a real life distant cousin of the real Lizzie Borden. Talk about a coincidence!
Whatever Happened to Adam Stephens?
While Tabitha was often a center point on the show, a little-known fact is that there was actually another child in the family. During the season when Dick Sargent took over for Dick York, Samantha gave birth to a baby son named Adam.
At the time, Elizabeth was actually pregnant with her third child Rebecca.
Who Played Adam?
The baby who originally played Adam Stephens was never credited. When Adam was shown as a young boy, towards the end of the show, he was credited as David Lawrence. But as his TV sister counterpart, Adam was actually played by twin brothers named Greg and David Mandel.
It turns out the boys later changed their last name to go by their adoptive family’s name. They appeared on a talk show called the Vicki Lawrence show in the 1990s where they claimed they were actually the sons of actor Tony Curtis, although they said he would never claim them.
Attempts to Pass on the ‘Ol Curtis Genes
While Tony Curtis said that he did not father Greg and David Mandel, the brothers have never stopped claiming that they are the product of his genes. In 2004, David Mandel again stepped into the public light when he attempted to capitalize off of Tony Curtis’ name.
David started to sell his own sperm, with the lure of having a child who would be the grandchild of Tony Curtis. He and his brother were selling their sperm for $10,000. It is unknown if anyone took the twins up on their attempted business venture.
Multiple Kids Needed for Tabitha
Everyone knows that there were a set of twins who played Samantha – Erin and Diane Murphy. But did you know there was actually a total of ten different kids entirely who played her over the years?
While Erin and Diane were certainly the child actresses used the most, the show needed to have backups in order to get the shots they needed. This was actually an entirely normal practice for the time.
Meet the Ten Tabithas
The other Tabithas include the following children: Cynthia Black, who appeared at only two and a half weeks old in episode 54. Then in episode 55 twin girls twins Heidi and Laura Gentry played the role. Next was twin girls Tamar and Julie Young who played Tabitha for the remainder of the second season. Next up was the well-known Murphy twins around ages 2 to 3; the Murphy girls were fraternal twins, so as they aged it was clear they were different people and ultimately Erin Murphy remained the one to play Tabitha.
Although Diane did continue to appear on the screen in various roles. Erin played Tabitha until the end of Bewitched. However, various spin-offs were aired which featured different versions of Tabitha. An animated TV movie called Tabitha and Adam and the Clown Family starred child actress Cindy Eilbacher as the voice of Tabitha Stephens. Then in 1976, another TV pilot was aired centered around Tabitha, this time spelled with an “a”, actress Liberty Williams played the part. Lastly, another spinoff was developed with original director William Asher at the helm called Tabitha and Lisa Hartman played the role.
Two Versions of Louise
While it is well known that there were two Darrins over the show’s eight-year tenure and that there were also two Gladys (due to Alice Pearce’s untimely death), it is not well-known that there were also two Louises. Louise Tate was the wife of Larry Tate who was one of the main characters besides Darrin and Samantha.
The first actress to play the role was named Irene Vernon, and she didn’t last to long. Irene played the role for 11 episodes for the first two seasons. She apparently left to “retire” and follow her real estate career. At the beginning of season 3, the role was played by Kasey Rogers who appeared in 33 episodes for the remaining time that bewitched was on air.
Two Father Franks
Just like his TV son Darrin, there were also two different actors who played the role of Darrin’s father Frank. First, he was played Robert F. Simon a well-known character actor who appeared in many productions including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and MASH.
The second actor to play Frank was named Roy Roberts who had an amazingly illustrious career and appeared in over 900 stage and screen productions, which is almost shocking in its magnitude. The interesting part about these two actors, is that they actually alternated appearances based on their availability throughout the run of the show.
Bewitched Board Games
Along with any popular television show, there is sure to be merchandise. Bewitched was definitely no different. Some of the most popular items that remain a coveted collector’s item to this day are the Bewitched board game and the card game. The board game is still being sold by collectors across the Internet for upwards of $60 depending on the condition, of course.
To play the game, players each start with three frogs. The aim of the game is to get a witch’s spell book so the frogs can be turned back into princes. However, it gets a bit tricky as there is multiple spellbooks and only one of them is real. Sounds like a super fun game!
Bewitched Comic Books
Did you know that Bewitched had its very own comic book series?! Not that it’s to anyone’s surprise, as Bewitched was and still is such a well-loved sitcom. The comic books were produced from 1965 to 1966. The art was primarily created by Henry Scarpelli. Henry became well known for his work on a variety of DC comics.
He provided much of the artwork for the iconic Archie comic books for most of the 1990s and 2000s. Collectors still clamor to get a copy of these rare comic books. They range anywhere in prison from $14 upwards, of course depending on the quality of the comic.