Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat


Elizabeth Montgomery - Bewitched
The original series of ‘Bewitched’ ran on ABC in America for 306 episodes from 1964-1972, but it is still screened in syndication throughout the world and is now available on DVD. The idea was first mooted in 1962 by Screen Gems Vice President, William Dozier, who told a fellow executive: “What if we did a series about a pretty young witch married to a ‘straight’ husband, who didn’t know when he married her that she was a witch?” Of course, a similar theme had already been filmed in the Forties with Veronica Lake starring in ‘I Married A Witch.’

Originally, actress Tammy Grimes was approached to play the lead, but she turned it down. Elizabeth Montgomery and her husband William Asher had been looking for a project on which they could work together and she accepted the lead, also negotiating 20% of the profits, which were to bring her $6 million over the course of the series.

Sadly, the stars: Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York, Dick Sargent and Agnes Moorhead are all deceased. The only original members of the main cast who are still alive at the time of writing are Erin and Diane Murphy, who played Samantha’s daughter Tabitha and David and Grey Lawrence who shared the role of Adam, Samantha’s son. Lisa Hartman portrayed Samantha’s daughter Tabitha in a spin-off series ‘Tabitha’ in 1997.

In the television series Elizabeth Montgomery played Samantha. She originally decided to take on the role because she wanted to work with her husband, William Asher, who directed the first 14 episodes of the series. Elizabeth was eight months pregnant at the time, so her husband had to film the first five shows without her, adding in her parts at a later date. She was to comment; “When people normally think of witches they imagine either funny old crones with long noses or someone kind of dark and sultry. The fact that I don’t look exotic and witch-like is an enormous boost for the show.”

On their wedding night, Samantha reveals to her husband Darrin that she is a witch who has supernatural powers. By the mere twitching of her nose, objects can move, people can disappear, mortals can be changed into animals. A distraught Darrin, very much in love with his wife, gets her to promise that she won’t use her witchcraft. Despite her promise, situations occur which lead her to use her powers regularly, mainly due to the mischievous actions of her mother Endora, her father Maurice and her Uncle Arthur, the latter a practical joker. The premise launched the 306 episode half hour show (180 of them in colour) which made its debut in September 1964 and lasted until July 1972.

Asher was to say, “The show portrays a mixed marriage that overcomes, by love, the enormous obstacles in its path. Samantha, in her new role as housewife, represents the true values in life. Material gains mean nothing to her. She can have anything she wants through witchcraft, yet she’d rather scrub the kitchen floor on her hands and knees for the man she loves. It is emotional satisfaction that she craves.”

Samantha’s father, Maurice (Maurice Evans), lives in London but materialises in his Rolls Royce from time to time to see his grandchildren and taunt his son-in-law. There is also Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde), a warlock who loves playing practical jokes, Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne), who is loveable but completely incompetent and Esmeralda (Alice Ghostley) who often acts as baby sitter and housekeeper, but with disastrous results.
Serena (also played by Elizabeth Montgomery) was Samantha’s mischievous identical cousin.

Adding to the frustrations of the harassed ad agency executive are other visitors to the house, including Dr Bombay (Bernard Fox) who is on call to remove unusual spells or provide special incantations and the Apothecary (Bernie Kopell), to supply the special ingredients needed for various spells, including bat’s wings, mouse’s whiskers, lizard’s tails and ground unicorn horn.

The mere mortals don’t stand a chance. They include Darrin’s parents, Phyllis and Frank Stephens (Mabel Albertson and Robert F. Simon)’ Darrin’s boss Larry Tate (David White) and his battling wife Louise (Kate Rogers) and nosy neighbours Gladys and Abner Kravitz (Sandra Gould and George Tobias). Due to the interference of his supernatural in-laws, Darrin gets fired from his job at least twice a month and Sam has to use her powers to help him.
Elizabeth was born in Hollywood on April 15 1933, the daughter of actor Robert Montgomery. She made her television debut in her father’s show and at the age of 21 married TV director Fred Cammann, a marriage that only lasted a few months. Her second marriage was to actor Gig Young, 14 years her senior, who was an alcoholic. Following their divorce, she married director William Asher in 1963 and the couple were to have three children - William, Robert and Rebecca.

‘Bewitched’ ran for eight years and when the series ended, Elizabeth and Asher were divorced. She lived with actor Robert Foxworth for the rest of her life and died of cancer on May 10th 1995 at the age of 62.
Dick York first played her husband Darrin, but was in constant pain from an injury caused during the filming of ‘They Came To Cordura’, which tore all the muscles loose from his spine. The injury became seriously debilitating and caused him to miss 14 episodes of the show.After five years, he suffered a seizure one day on the set and had to be taken to hospital. He never returned to the show.
Dick YorkDick Sargent

Bewitched: Samantha and Endora
Dick Sargent replaced his character, although there was no explanation given for the change of actors, and the show dropped in the ratings. York died of prostate cancer on July 8th 1994 at the age of 63. Sargent was also to die of cancer.Highly popular in the series was veteran actress Agnes Moorhead, six times nominated for an Oscar. As Samantha’s mother Endora, who disapproves of her daughter marrying a mortal, she makes Darrin’s life a misery and during the course of the series turns him into a chimp, a gorilla, a mule, a goose, a frog, a statue, a pony, a crow, a goat, a little boy and an invisible man. Her appearance in the series garnered her five Emmy Award nominations. Agnes was to die of lung cancer in 1974 at the age of 68.

‘Bewitched’ had been in the movie planning stage for almost a decade and several actresses, including Meryl Streep, had been mentioned in connection with it at one time or another, but Nicole Kidman eventually took on the adventures of the nose-twitching suburban housewife who just happens to be a witch in the 2005 movie version of ‘Bewitched’!

Interestingly enough, back in the late 1990s, Nicole Kidman was mentioned as possibly starring in a remake of the 1942 comedy, ‘I Married a Witch’, playing the role originated by Veronica Lake. At the time, the concept was that she would have been co-starring with her then-husband, Tom Cruise (who was also producing).

Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Article Text Bill Harry               Original Graphics SixtiesCity     Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images

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