Bewitched: Shocking Facts About the Beloved Sitcom and Its Cast
No one could have predicted that Bewitched would still be alive decades later after its first time on-air on September 17th, 1964. Though the sitcom lasted eight seasons, practically everyone remembers Samantha’s twitching nose to this day.
Four spin-offs aired on the small screen, and a full-blown remake was filmed with Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman in the lead roles, although none of the spin-offs were as popular as the original.
Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about Bewitched that you might not have known about:
1. Elizabeth Montgomery Played Multiple Roles
Elizabeth Montgomery didn’t just portray the main witch, but she also assumed the role of Samantha’s niece Serena. She adopted the pseudonym Pandora Spocks to be credited as playing Serena.
Serena’s looks changed depending on her role, and she was often used as a stand-in for her cousin, thus the amusing pseudonym. Just in case you wish to check out her dual role in the TV series, Serena makes her debut appearance in the episode titled, “And Then There Were Three.”
2. “Darrin” was Almost Cast Differently
Richard Sargent, a teenage actor, came close to being cast as Darrin Stephens in the early days of the show’s casting. Sargent ended up accepting another position however while the pilot looked for someone to portray Samantha.
Although second choice, Richard Crenna was not a strong contender, we will never know how the program would have turned out if someone other than the original Darrin, Dick York, had been chosen in the role.
3. Dick York's Charming Role as Darrin Stephens
On Bewitched, Dick York ended up playing Darrin Stephens, the mortal husband of Samantha Stephens. Due to his work on the series, Dick was a well-liked actor throughout the 1960s, but he is also remembered for his appearance in the 1960s classic picture Inherit the Wind.
Despite his widespread popularity, Dick York only took on a handful of other roles after the cancellation of Bewitched on NBC. Given his health issues, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise to the public.
4. Dick York Leaves
Following Richard Sargent’s turning down of the role, the character Darrin was offered to actor Richard Crenna. Richard Crenna declined this offer since he had just spent four years on The Real McCoys.
Ultimately, Dick York was cast in the major male role at the beginning of the series. After Dick York departed from the TV show, Sargent returned to the role. Because the play didn’t last following the cast changes, the role shift was only temporary.
5. Why Dick York Left
Despite the fact that Dick York’s departure from the program was never addressed, it is clear that he had an underlying cause for leaving. While shooting the film They Came To Cordura, York tore the majority of the muscles on the right side of his back, and he never fully recovered from the injury.
Doctors prescribed him pain medicine, but it wasn’t a long-term answer, and it didn’t provide for an ideal scenario for him to continue filmmaking. He is said to have gotten addicted to the pain medicine provided to him for back discomfort.
6. Elizabeth Montgomery's Pregnancies
While working on the television series, Elizabeth Montgomery became pregnant three times. In July 1964, she gave birth to her first child. The producers were able to include two of Montgomery’s pregnancies into the screenplay, therefore expanding the Stephens family to include Tabitha and Adam.
The decision to include the youngsters in the television series did not meet with universal approval. Using inventive camera angles and other well-known Hollywood tactics, the show’s staff often attempted to conceal the fact that the actress was pregnant.
7. An Exceptional Sense of Humor
Erin Murphy (who played Tabitha on the series) spoke candidly about the cast in a 2017 interview with Fox News. While Elizabeth Montgomery looked to be the gentle girl next door, Murphy shared that she wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. “She had a really dirty sense of humor…”
Murphy continues to say, “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.”
8. A Deserved Emmy Award
Two months after her death, Alice Pearce was honored with a posthumous Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy Award for her portrayal of the nosy neighbor Gladys.
It’s not uncommon for actors and actresses to get posthumous honors. Still, her decision to keep her illness hidden from her fellow cast members and the show’s producers was unusual, particularly given that the series had just premiered and her death came as a shock to the industry.
9. Amazing Truth About the Costumes
Supporting actress Kasey Rogers, who portrayed Louise Tate, said that she furnished her own attire and would bring her own outfits into the studio a week before shooting. They’d be cleaned and pressed by the wardrobe department.
At the time of the show’s success, finding ways to cut expenses for new TV shows and even some older programs was usual in the TV industry. This was also an excellent opportunity for supporting cast members to bring their own personalities to their parts.
10. Great Off-Camera Friendships
Darrin may have disliked Endora on the program, but the two were close friends away from the cameras. In fact, Agnes Moorehead had a stronger bond with Dick York than any other member of the cast.
After Bewitched was canceled, the co-stars’ friendship lasted for many years to follow. Moorehead was adamant about York being on the program, despite his reported addiction to pain relievers that everyone had come to know about. She is said to have gotten into a fight with Sargent and brought him to tears on a number of occasions.
11. Sargent Navigates Being A Replacement
Moorehead loved York’s skills on television, and she was not happy when Dick Sargent replaced him. It turns out that those squabbles on the set of Bewitched may have actually contributed to the strengthening of at least one relationship on the set.
Elizabeth Montgomery and Sargent became friends due to the difficulties they were experiencing on the set of the television series, and they would become lifelong friends due to their mutual support for one another.
12. Elizabeth Almost Didn’t Make It
Sol Saks, the show’s creator, had his heart set on an actress named Tammy Grimes to assume the role of the show’s main witch who was originally set to be called Cassandra, instead of Samantha. Saks liked Grimes’s naturally “elfin” looks, which he thought would be endearing to audiences.
In the end, Sol Saks and Bill Asher decided on Elizabeth Montgomery as the star of the series. No one else could have played the part, particularly not someone who seemed “elfish,” whatever that term means.
13. There Were Two Tabithas
The Stephens’ daughter, Tabitha, was played by Erin and Diane Murphy, who are fraternal twins. It is fairly typical to employ twins, especially for the parts of infants.
Babies have distinct personalities, so if one refuses to participate in the filming, the other may be used. Because the youngsters shared a part, they could work on set at separate times, avoiding any charges related to over working young children. This method is still in use today.
14. One of the Murphy Twins Was More Talented
One of the Murphy twins collaborated far more than the other. Because it was evident that Erin had a natural talent for acting and would be the show’s star, she was cast in close-up shots and speaking parts, while Diane was cast in long shots.
Despite the fact that one youngster may have been preferred over the other due to their differences in disposition, they both received full credit for their involvement in the show.
15. Theme Song From Darrin's Point of View
Did you know that the show’s theme song was based on Darrin’s perspective? The song had actual lyrics! It may be interesting to know that you can listen to the words on YouTube if you search for a short video clip that features Steve Lawrence.
In the context of the song, it is suggested that the lyrics reflect Darrin’s assumption that he knew that his wife was a witch. Some argue that it might also be seen as a tale of a guy who is in love with a lady and who is so mesmerized by her that he cannot even leave.
16. Was it Really a Nose Wiggle?
According to Erin Murphy, Montgomery’s nose wiggle was a camera trick. “Samantha’s nose never wiggles, as you can see if you look carefully. It’s her top lip that’s the problem,” she said.
Some believe that moving her mouth caused her nose to move, and it seems that she did move her lips left and right to achieve the wiggle. In reality, the human nose lacks the necessary muscles to move in such a manner.
17. Behind The Scenes of Samantha’s Magic
Samantha’s “magic” was painstakingly created since there was no CGI available in the 1960s. Elizabeth Montgomery would stand in the center of the living room with her arms outstretched while the director yelled, “Cut!” and the stagehands came running to clean up the mess.
It was a low-tech, cost-effective approach, but the momentary film cuts allowed the show’s charm to continue. At the time, it was pretty amazing to watch it unravel on screen.
18. The Fateful Naming of Larry Tate’s Son
On Bewitched, when Larry and Louise Tate had a baby, the actor who played Larry, David White, insisted that he be called Jonathan. Off-screen, White had a kid called Jonathan, whom he raised alone when his wife died of problems during her second pregnancy.
When the show’s makers heard about Larry’s real-life son, they felt it was a wonderful gesture and instantly agreed to name the character after him.
19. David White’s Tragic Sorrow
Larry’s son Jonathan was a passenger on Pan Am Flight 103, which crashed into the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing everyone on board. David succumbed to a heart attack two years later, and the father-son duo is buried together at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
For years, when individual members of the Bewitched cast died at early ages, many people felt the show’s creators had cursed the whole cast. It is true that a startlingly large number of persons who worked on the program passed away at a young age.
20. Alcohol on Set
Producer William Asher was among the cast members who drank heavily at the start of the show and was sometimes videotaped while inebriated. The drinking was so prevalent that various fan sites were developed to track how many times each character was seen drinking during a scene in each episode.
However, Bewitched was filmed in the 1960s, when the American public had a considerably more relaxed attitude about drinking than it does now. Various Hollywood unions now prohibit the use of alcoholic beverages on set.
21. Airing Was Halted to Announce a Tragedy
On April 4th, 1968, the episode of Bewitched was cut short to deliver the devastating news that civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. had been slain in Memphis. The first day of rehearsals for the production took place on November 22nd, 1963, the day of President Kennedy’s assassination, which was also a chilling coincidence.
The episode “I Confess,” in which Darrin feels irritated with Samantha for overusing her magic, was the one that was cut short to report the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of the show’s actors had bad luck after the TV series concluded, and they had several sorrowful events on the set throughout the course of shooting, including this tragic occurrence.
22. Elizabeth Montgomery’s Misleading Obituary
Elizabeth Montgomery kept her private life a secret, and she knew she did not want her personal information at the public’s disposal. According to the newspapers, her age was reported as being 57 years old at the time of her death. However, her actual age at the time was 62.
She was also reported as living a single life in many obituaries because she preferred not to publicize her marriage to Robert Foxworth, whom she married a few years prior to her death.
23. Inconsistencies in the Death Certificate
In addition to stating her inaccurate age and marital status in her obituary, her death certificate even misspelled her own name! If you look at her death certificate closely, you’ll see that her complete name is “Elizabeth A. Montgomery.”
Her middle name was “Victoria,” as die-hard admirers of the Hollywood actress would recall. Given her time in the limelight, it’s really rather remarkable that she managed to stay so private.
24. The Smoking Situation
In actual life, several of Bewitched’s cast and guest stars were habitual smokers. Paul Lynde and Elizabeth Montgomery were both said to be chain smokers. Dick York smoked three packs of cigarettes per day!
“I remember my parents were always saying ‘smoking is bad,’” Tabitha actor Erin Murphy recalled in an interview. She went on to say, “and I remember thinking ‘If smoking is bad, then why is everybody around here doing it?’”
25. Was the Show Cursed?
Some fans believe that there was a real-life curse on the program. A significant number of the cast members died as a result of cancer-related causes throughout the filming. Many of them died at an early age as well. Beyond Elizabeth Montgomery, other notable cast members who died at early ages of under 65 include Alice Pearce from cancer, Paul Lynde from a heart attack, Dick York from emphysema, and Dick Sargent from heart failure and cancer.
It’s difficult to establish if this dismal number is due to “witchcraft” or poor lifestyle choices. But with the mention of cigarettes, the latter is more likely.
26. Real-Life Connections
The connection between Samantha and Tabitha that takes place behind the scenes, is frequently the subject of discussion. Erin Murphy, a child actor who appeared on Bewitched, recently spoke with ABC about her experience on the show. She said that she was quite attached to her television parents, referring to them as “Darren Daddy” and “Mantha Mommy.”
Murphy looked up to her TV parents and said, “In a lot of ways, I’m so much more like [Montgomery] than I am my own mom, which is hilarious.” Agnes Moorehead, the actress who played her grandma, was also a friend of hers.
27. Erin Murphy's Later Life
As a makeup artist, casting director, fashion stylist, acting instructor, stunt double, and motivational speaker in her later years, Erin Murphy accumulated a diverse range of experiences. However, the actress’s most essential position was that of an outspoken champion for autism awareness; she disclosed that her son Parker was diagnosed with the illness.
Murphy is also a successful entrepreneur, having launched a line of low-calorie frozen vodka martini pops! She has clearly had a large influence on the world outside of Hollywood.
28. Recasting Darrin Affected the Ratings
Despite the fact that the show had previously been on the air for three seasons, Darrin had to be recast when Dick York left the show. Viewers are often not fond of such a drastic shift in the main character’s personality, and audiences in the 1960s were no exception.
The change was recognized by the audience, and the show’s ratings plunged during the remaining three years of its run. Even while many people liked Dick Sargent’s interpretation of the character, other fans were not ready to accept the different face.
29. The Cousin Similarities
Serena, Samantha’s cousin, resembled Samantha in a few ways. One of the most striking similarities between them was her fondness for being surrounded by mundane mortals. She even had a couple of boyfriends! We wouldn’t call her a swinging sixties woman, but she did have hippy characteristics. She supported Samantha’s marriage to a mortal in general, albeit she mocked them for not being as cool as she was.
Because camera technology had not improved enough, Samantha and Serena were seldom captured in the same moments. They did, however, attempt split-screen shooting and utilizing a rear double to portray the two characters that Montgomery played at the same time.
30. The Birthday Coincidence
Elizabeth Montgomery’s real-life daughter Rebecca Asher was born on the same day as the twins who played Tabitha. Were these June 17th birthdays just a coincidence, or did something more extraordinary occur?
This rare picture features Diane Murphy, one of the twin actresses who played Tabitha, and Elizabeth’s genuine daughter Rebecca Asher. Asher has worked on a number of films, including Donnie Darko, Knocked Up, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, among others.
31. Unchanging Beauty
Elizabeth was considered a babe in the 1960s and maintained her attractiveness well into her senior years. She must have cast a spell on herself to slow down the aging process. Seriously, she most likely takes good care of her body by exercising and eating the proper meals.
Although she seemed to be in excellent condition on the outside, she was really suffering from mysterious health difficulties hidden from the public eye.
32. Coming Out of the Closet
Dick Sargent, the star of Bewitched, came out as gay on National Coming Out Day, October 11, 1991, on a Geraldo Rivera TV event. Despite acknowledging that his choice to come out may have had a negative impact on his work, he said in a subsequent interview that the relief of being able to live freely as his “true self” was well worth it.
In support of Sargent’s choice, Elizabeth Montgomery co-marshaled the Los Angeles Pride Parade alongside him in 1992. The occasion is shown in the photo above.
33. Championing for Human Rights
You probably already know that Elizabeth Montgomery was a big advocate of women’s rights and that she even came on the program without a bra at the end to express her support for the women’s liberation movement. However, she was one of the first celebrities to support homosexual rights and speak out on behalf of AIDS victims.
Elizabeth Montgomery devoted a significant amount of her time to the AIDS Project Los Angeles and amfAR. Her help was invaluable to the cause as it came at a crucial moment when the AIDS pandemic was at its peak, and little was known about the disease.
34. Mingling with the Famous
In 1997, Herbie Pilato published a tell-all book titled Twitch Upon A Star, that revealed details about Elizabeth Montgomery’s private life. There is some speculation that President John F. Kennedy was one of Montgomery’s unsuitable men. While the only thing that is certain is that the two became acquaintances in the early 1960s, Pilato said that Kennedy “chased almost every beautiful woman he met.”
Montgomery is also claimed to have had affairs with Hollywood legends Gary Cooper and Dean Martin, both of whom are much older than her. Montgomery married four times and is said to have had affairs in each of her marriages.
35. The Actors Behind Adam Stephens
Samantha gave birth to a boy named Adam during the season when Dick Sargent took over for Dick York. In real-life, Elizabeth’s pregnancy was for her third child, Rebecca.
The infant who played Adam Stephens in the first film was never recognized. At the conclusion of the show, he was credited as David Lawrence although he was truly performed by twin brothers, Greg and David Mandel. The lads eventually changed their last name to that of their adoptive family. They later claimed they were the sons of actor Tony Curtis in the 1990s on the talk show, Vicki! with Vicki Lawrence. However, they said he would never claim them.
36. Montgomery's Career Post Bewitched
After Bewitched finally ended (despite Elizabeth Montgomery expressing her desire to quit a few series earlier), the actress looked for jobs that would allow her to break free from the nice girl image she had cultivated for over a decade.
In The Legend of Lizzie Borden, she played the axe killer Lizzie Borden. Later, Montgomery was eventually discovered to be a real-life distant relative of the actual Lizzie Borden. What a crazy coincidence!
37. Making Documentaries
While Elizabeth Montgomery is most recognized for her role as Samantha on Bewitched, she was also involved in a number of more controversial projects. She aspired to utilize her abilities for more “serious” work, even though many people only thought of her as an entertaining and gorgeous actress.
Elizabeth Montgomery narrated two political documentaries that mirrored her political views. Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair was the first, published in 1988. The second documentary, The Panama Deception, was produced in 1992 and received an Academy Award despite being full of controversy.
38. The Tribute to Elizabeth Montgomery
Elizabeth Montgomery was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after her death. The star, which can be found at 6533 Hollywood Blvd, was awarded to the actress on January 4th, 2008, 13 years after her death, for her contribution to television.
In June 2005, Salem, Massachusetts, dedicated a bronze monument depicting Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens in commemoration of the Salem Witch Trials in the seventeenth century. It’s a witchy homage to one of history’s most renowned and revered “witches.” Elizabeth Montgomery’s legacy seems to be enduring, and she will not be forgotten.
39. Bewitched Comic Books
Did you know that Bewitched had a comic book series of its own? It shouldn’t come as a surprise given how popular Bewitched was and continues to be. The comics were published between 1965 and 1966. Henry Scarpelli was mostly responsible for the artwork. Henry rose to prominence as a result of his work on a number of DC titles.
For most of the 1990s and 2000s, he produced most of the artwork for the legendary Archie comic books as well. Collectors are still clamoring to get their hands on a copy of these very rare comic books, and the price may be low or high depending on the quality of the comic.
40. A Long-Lasting Legacy
Bewitched is still a fan favorite today. Even though Samantha’s clan and their witchy ways were last shown on television many decades ago, many young people are still acquainted with them. The program is still on television, having been syndicated across the globe since the show wrapped in 1972.
The program has also been published on DVD, allowing a new generation of fans to discover the beloved series. If you’re seeking to get your hands on this legendary television series, you’re in luck! The full series can be obtained online today.