“Bewitched” is a very well-known and beloved sitcom from the 60s and 70s that revolved around a cheeky and charming witch named Samantha, her mortal husband Darrin, and their unusual household. People went crazy over Elizabeth Montgomery’s nose wiggles, the fun characters and all of the magic included in the series. The show was so popular that it went on for an unprecedented eight seasons, making it the longest-running supernatural-themed series of the 60s and 70s. However, there are some things you might not have known about the popular show. Here are some facts you didn’t know about “Bewitched”:
As most of you know, Elizabeth Montgomery starred as the beloved main character in Bewitched, Samantha. Well, in TV, lots of things are subject to change. At some point, she also took up the role of Samantha’s cousin, Serena, a progressive hippie-type witch who always manages to get on Samantha’s nerves.
Serena has a distinct mark on her check that changes shape every episode such as a heart or a fish. The resemblance between Serena and Samantha is unmistakable but Montgomery apparently was able to fool some of the show’s staff the first time she wore the Serena wig. Also, if you look at the credits, the role of Serena is credited to a “Pandora Spocks,” a play on words of “Pandora’s Box.”
Now, this is groundbreaking news. The signature part of the show was Samantha’s nose wiggles. Erin Murphy, who played the character’s daughter said that the “wiggle was actually a camera trick.” Can you believe it?
Samantha’s nose does slightly wiggle, but if you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s just her upper lip that she’s moving. The wiggle was based on a twitch that Montgomery had in real life when she got nervous. To enhance the wiggle, the film was sped up slightly and accompanied by the classic xylophone sound. Many fans believed that Montgomery got the role because of the nose wiggle ability, but she was actually already cast for the part by the time the nose idea came up.
Actress Marion Lorne played the role of quirky Aunt Clara. Real life Lorne had a thing with doorknobs, and it made its way into the script based on the actress’s actual adoration for them. The odd obsession only added to the lovable Aunt Clara who was constantly forgetting things and whose spells regularly ended in disaster due to losing her powers to old age.
Apparently, Lorne had a collection of over 1,000 antique door knobs! She even used some of the doorknobs from her personal collection as props in the series. Wonder where she put them all. Lorne appeared in 27 episodes and sadly died in 1968 of a heart attack. She was never replaced in the series.
Generally, producers want the final episode of their series to be a memorable one. That certainly wasn’t the case with Bewitched. Did it feel familiar to you? It should have. The final episode, “The Truth, Nothing but the Truth, So Help Me Sam,” was nothing more than a rehash of a 1965 episode entitled “Speak the Truth.”
Endora, suspicious of Darrin, casts a spell on Samantha’s pin causing everyone in proximity to it to tell the truth. Fights ensue at Darrin’s work and at home when he has clients over for cocktails. In the end, everything works out with the clients and Darrin and Samantha truthfully profess their love to one another.
Alice Pearce, better known as Gladys the nosy neighbor, appeared on the show from 1964 to 1966. But she kept a huge secret to herself when she took the part. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She never told any of her co-stars
Pearce was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around four months prior to landing the gig on Bewitch and never showed signs that she was ill, at least not any the cast members or producers noticed. She was awarded a posthumous Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy Award for her role as Alice.
Dick York, the first actor who played Darrin, suffered a severe back injury in 1959 during the filming of the movie “They Came To Cordura.” From the third season of Bewitched, York had health issues that delayed production of the series. Many episodes were written so that York could be seated or lying down.
As a result, his character Darrin was frequently “away on business.” In January 1969, York collapse during the filming of the episode “Daddy Does His Thing.” He never returned to the set of Bewitched. Dick Sargent was cast that very same month to replace York. Audiences were apparently not pleased with the swap seeing as how ratings significantly dropped after the switch.
As the series started to decline in popularity, so did the show’s writing. After Dick York suddenly left the show, much of the audience started losing interest. As a result, many episodes were just copies of previous Bewitched episodes or storyline copies of other shows.
William Asher, the producer of the show, was also the director of the beloved sitcom I Love Lucy. Some of the Bewitched episodes were direct copies of I Love Lucy storylines, such as the episode entitled “Samantha’s Power Failure.” The episode featured Serena and Uncle Arthur working at a candy factory dipping bananas in chocolate and nuts then packaging them.
The Olsen twins weren’t the only cute twins that shared a role in a TV series. Bewitched, however, took a different approach and used multiple sets of twins to fill the role of Tabitha.
In the season 2 episode, “And Then There Were Three,” Samantha and Darrin have a baby daughter named Tabitha, the infant is played by Cynthia Black. Then she got replaced by twins Heidi and Laura Gentry and then again by twins Tamar and Julie Young! Finally, the producers stuck with twin toddlers Diane Murphy and Erin Murphy, who shared the role starting in season 3.
Despite Samantha’s unorthodox lifestyle, she was appointed Queen of the Witches after the former Queen abdicated from the throne. Just goes to show that being strong-willed and having a firm set of beliefs pays off. But Samantha didn’t accept the position willingly.
Darrin didn’t want her to be queen and Sam herself didn’t think she would be able to juggle the responsibilities of the position and her family at the same time. In the end, everything worked out. All hail the queen!
We all know that the witches in Bewitched live much longer than mortals. Throughout the series, many references are made to Endora’s age. They are not always consistent and it’s hard to know if she was being sarcastic, but did you catch her oldest reference?
In one episode Endora states that she dated “Otzie the Ice Man” who lived around 3500 BC. That would make her over 5,500 years old! Her daughter Samantha is believed to have been born between 1570 and 1600, making her over 400.
Elizabeth Montgomery was diagnosed with colon cancer and struggled with the disease for many years. At one point her doctors believed that she was cancer free after treatment but the cancer returned and spread to her liver. Refusing to die in a hospital, she spent her last days at home with her husband, Robert Foxworth.
Montgomery died on June 18, 1995. She was 62 years old. Such a large percentage of the cast died of cancer that people refer to it as the “Bewitched curse.” One researcher calculated that 85% of the cast has died from cancer.
More than one actor was used to play the character of Samantha’s husband, Darrin. Dick York was replaced by Dick Sargent, without any type of acknowledgment by the characters in the show. They just kept going as usual.
The show’s producers hoped that audiences wouldn’t be able to tell much difference and accept the new actor in the beloved role of Darrin. The sudden switch between actors came to be dubbed “The Darrin Syndrome.” Unfortunately for them, the switch was noticed by audiences worldwide and they weren’t very forgiving.
The famous Bewitched theme song is so catchy and definitely familiar but you couldn’t really sing it because it didn’t have any words. Yet, that isn’t entirely true!
While we never heard the lyrics sung in the opening, they do exist. Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller wrote and composed the theme song for Bewitched but the producers decided to go with an instrumental version instead! “Bewitched, bewitched, you’ve got me in your spell.”
Darrin wasn’t the only character on the show to be swapped out. The nosy neighbor, Gladys Kravitz was also played by two actresses. The character was well known for her overly dramatic freakouts and high-pitched screams.
First, Alice Pearce took the role, and later, the role was given to Sandra Gould. The character was so beloved that it won Pearce a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy.
As much as you would like to think that every location we see on TV and in movies is real and unique, chances are the set was used before or will be used again. If you have a really good eye for detail you’ll start noticing these houses popping up in other series and films.
The set used in the 1959 movie “Gidget” was actually a real house in Santa Monica and the blueprint design was later reversed and reproduced for the set of Bewitched! Columbia Pictures also used the patio and living room sets from Gidget Goes to Rome (1963). Rival series I Dream of Jeannie also used the set, making it quite magical!
Cassandra just doesn’t seem like the right name for a young-looking blonde witch who wins the heart of a mortal! In the beginning developments of this ABC show, Sol Saks had the actress Tammy Grimes in mind to play the main character and planned on naming the witch Cassandra.
The English actress, however, turned down the role after she read the script and decided instead to pursue her own series, The Tammy Grimes Show. The show was, however, short-lived. The Tammy Grimes Show was poorly received and canceled after just four episodes. We wonder if she has any regrets considering how popular Bewitched became!
Actor Dick York had a seizure on the set of Bewitched and was rushed to the hospital, he never returned to his role as Darrin. He tore the muscles along the right side of his back in an accident on the set of the movie “They Came to Cordura,” setting his life and career on a downward spiral.
York, while attempting to recover, became addicted to painkillers. He eventually broke the habit but his physical body never healed. York died of complications with emphysema in 1992 at the age of 63. His role as Darrin went to actor Dick Sargent, who was originally offered the role.
Darrin number two, Dick Sargent, made headlines in 1991 when he came out as gay on National Coming Out Day. He became an outspoken advocate for gay rights issues, citing high rates of gay teen suicide as the main reason.
Sargent was diagnosed with prostate cancer and his poor health led many to falsely assume that he suffered from HIV/AIDS. He died in 1994 at the age of 64. Montgomery, upon hearing of his passing, said: “He was a great friend, and I will miss his love, his sense of humor and his remarkable courage.”
Just like Samantha and Darrin’s home was used by other shows and movies, their nosy neighbors’ house was also a hand-me-down. On the set, the Kravitzs and Stephens weren’t actually neighbors.
In fact, the Kravitz house was down the street from the Stephen’s “house” and was used for others shows as well. From 1964 to 1966, the house was used on The Donna Reed Show. Then later, it was used in The Partridge Family at the same time! This must have been a popular house seeing as it was used for over 50 years!
Bewitched was the only show airing in the 60’s that was about a young woman with magical power. The creator of I Dream of Jeannie, Sidney Sheldon was inspired by Bewitched and its success, hence why he aired his show on the rival network, NBC.
I Dream of Jeannie came out a year later in 1965 and although it wasn’t as popular as Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery wasn’t happy with her counterpart, the magical Jeannie. She reportedly considered the show to be nothing more than creative theft. I mean, they are both magical blonde women who fall in love with a mortal…
As beloved as the main characters were, fans also loved seeing the recurring characters who were played by amazing actors!
Paul Lynde, the actor who played Harry MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie was in 10 episodes of Bewitched, playing Uncle Arthur! Lynde played Samantha’s mother’s prankster brother and he was always making us laugh with his crazy shenanigans. We also got to see Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombaby), Alice Ghostley (Esmeralda), and Mabel Albertson (Phyllis Stephens)!
You may know the actor Richard Dreyfuss from his roles in Jaws, Stand By Me, The Goodbye Girl, and many others!
Before his acting career took off, he was a young man in Hollywood trying to be cast. Bewitched ended up being one of his first major TV roles! He was in the episode “Man’s Best Friend” and played the character Rodney, a warlock that Samantha used to babysit. You have to start somewhere!
You can only play the same role for so long before you get tired of it. Bewitched lasted for 8 seasons and 254 episodes, which is a lot considering it was a show in the 1960’s/70’s.
Elizabeth Montgomery was the only actor to appear in every episode and after the fifth season, she wanted to quit. I mean, she was a mother to three kids and 5 seasons was already a lot. Yet, the producers didn’t want to lose her so they offered her enough money that she couldn’t say no!
With any good show comes a couple of spinoffs to keep some of the characters alive and what better choice than the adorable Tabitha!
5 years after Bewitched ended in 1972, there was a spin-off series called Tabitha based on the adult life of Tabitha Stephens. The show was aired on ABC but didn’t feature the original actress, Erin Murphy as Lisa Hartman was cast to play the older daughter. The show didn’t last very long and there were a lot of continuity differences.
Ever noticed how Darrin’s secretary at McMann and Tate seemed to be a different woman many times throughout the series?
Well, the producers never stuck with one actress playing Betty and I guess since she was a minor character, they didn’t think audiences would notice! Marcia Wallace was one of the many actresses to play the secretary and she would later on voice the Simpsons character Edna Krabappel! Jill Foster also played Betty for 10 episodes.
On top of being a feminist pioneer in the television world, Montgomery was also a witch pioneer. Her character Samantha was never afraid of being different from other witches, even if that meant suffering hardships due to her choices and beliefs.
Her marrying a mortal came at a huge price, both in the magical community and with the mortals. Taking another page out of the I Love Lucy playbook, Samantha’s mother Endora almost never pronounces Darrin’s name correctly to show her disapproval of him. Endora referred to Darrin by names such as Dobbin, Durwood, Delmore, Darryl and more. Pretty much any name that started with a D, apart from Darrin. Endora only correctly addresses him as “Darrin” eight times during the entire series.
When the show was first being created, an actor by the name of Richard Sargent was originally going to play the character of Darrin Stephens.
The only thing was that Sargent accepted another role. In short, Crenna was probably not the first choice of the crew, but without him, we may or may not have known the Darrin Syndrome. Crenna declined the role.
As we mentioned earlier, Richard Crenna declined the part of Darrin, as he had recently invested a lot of time on “The Real McCoys.” Dick York was the runner-up, so he ended up getting the role.
Later on, Dick Sargent replaced him, but who knows what would have actually happened if he had been there all 8 seasons.
During the filming of the entire series, Elizabeth Montgomery was pregnant a total of three times. Her firstborn child was born in 1964, and what’s really cool about her pregnancies, is that the writers and producers squeezed the pregnancy into the script and made everything work naturally.
This way, Adam and Tabitha were added to the Stephens clan, and it all unfolded smoothly. Montgomery even decided to name her on set daughter Tabitha. She liked the name because it sounded “old-fashioned.” If you look closely, however, the name appears as “Tabatha” on the credit roll. Montgomery says that she “shudders” every time she sees the mistake. “It’s like a squeaky piece of chalk scratching on my nerves,” Montgomery said in an interview.
On the show, Dick York Played the role of Darrin, who was Samantha’s husband. York was a well-liked actor during the decade, simply because fans adored his character on “Bewitched.”
But this wasn’t York’s only big break in television, he starred in a film called “Inherit the Wind”, which was also a major hit in the 60s. Such a charming and good-looking actor can’t go unnoticed for long!
Louise Tate, Samantha’s closest mortal friend, was played by actress Kasey Rogers. Rogers admitted that all of the supporting actors were required to provide their own costumes, and that clothing was brought into the studio roughly a week before shooting.
What’s hilarious about this, is that the actual costume department would take this clothes and clean and iron them for them to be TV ready. Talk about service.
Actress Agnes Moorehead had a spectacular starburst diamond brooch which she wore often during filming. This brooch consisted of 8.5 carats of diamonds, old school ones, so they were huge and vintage-looking.
Elizabeth Montgomery absolutely adored that brooch, and Moorehead bequeathed the brooch to her TV daughter when she passed away in 1974. Moorehead, like so many of the Bewitched cast, died of cancer, specifically uterine cancer. She is remembered for her highly successful career that spanned six decades. Moorehead won two Golden Globes and a Primetime Emmy for her work on camera.
One of the best parts of working in the industry is that just like any other workplace, there are many friendships formed off-set, or after work hours. While Darrin hated Endora on the series, the two actors were great friends off the set, and an amazing friendship stemmed from having worked together.
Bewitched historian Herbie J. Pilato wrote in his book that, “Dick York absolutely loved Agnes Moorehead . . . quite simply the relationship between Dick York and Agnes Moorehead was the exact opposite of the relationship between Darrin and Endora.” The two reportedly bonded over their love of spirituality. According to Dick Sargent, Moorehead would arrive to set with “the Bible in one hand and the script in the other”
Moorhead was quite a fan of Dick York’s talent and when he was replaced by Dick Sargent, she wasn’t very happy. Their dislike of each other certainly created some epic passive-aggressive tension on the set. Perfect for the character dynamic between Darrin and Endora.
Moorehead and Sargent reportedly had major fights on set and even reduced Sargent to tears on multiple occasions. Their constant fighting, however, ended up bringing the two closer together. Moorehead and Sargent eventually became lifelong friends.
I Married A Witch and Bell, Book and Candle were the names of the films that inspired the series. Sol Saks, the creator, modeled the script of the pilot episode after the plots of the movies.
In several interviews, he claimed that he wasn’t super concerned about legal threats because both films were owned by Columbia, as well as Screen Gems, which was the same company that created the Bewitched series.
Aunt Clara somehow managed to make herself seem sweeter to Darrin, regardless of the fact that he disliked a majority of Samantha’s family in the script. But somehow she always seemed to bring out the best in Darrin. Maybe it was her senile kookiness.
If only people could be that polite in real life when dealing with their in-laws/spouses family.
On the show, when Louise and Larry Tate had a son, David White, the actor made a huge request for the child to be named Jonathan.
He made this request because, in real life, he actually had a son named Jonathan, who had been raised solely by White himself.
The idea behind the story that was included in the “Sisters at Heart” episode was written by 22 African American 10th graders, from a high school in South Central Los Angeles. Most of the students were unable to read or write. The storyline dealt with racism and acceptance, themes common to the progressive series.
The episode was heralded as “thoughtful” and masterfully handling such a sensitive topic. Somewhat ironically though, at one point the episode featured Darrin, Samantha and Tabitha in black-face, which certainly wouldn’t be politically correct by today’s standards. But as it was used as a tool to break down prejudice and racism audiences and critics received the episode with open arms.
Even though the series ended in 1972, the cultural effects of Bewitched are still being felt today. It is one of the most beloved series of the 60s and 70s and ranks on “TV Guides 50 Greatest Shows of All Time.” A monument was even built in the series’ honor!
A statue of Samantha flying on a broomstick was unveiled in Salem, Massachusetts in 2005. The monument marked the show’s 40th anniversary. Also, apart from getting viewers everywhere to try to wiggle their noses, the sitcom was one of the first feminist sitcoms on the air.
Elizabeth Montgomery was well known for her acting career and her amazing beauty, but her personal life was a different story. She succeeded in keeping it just that, private. So much so that when she died in 1995 many of her obituaries neglected to mention that she was married to Robert Foxworth, because they didn’t know.
What might surprise you about Montgomery is that she was a fierce supporter of gay rights, long before being popular. Indeed, she was one of the earliest celebrities to support the cause. She also advocated for AIDS patients and volunteered during the peak of the AIDS crisis.
The 2005 movie Bewitched attempted to continue the success of the series with actors Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. Sadly, that’s not what happened. The movie was a critical and commercial failure. Movie critics said that the film was “haunted by scattered laughs and a lack of direction.”
The new Bewitched also earned the two main actors a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple… Ouch. Kidman was praised as “capturing the character,” most of the blame fell on Ferrell who played the role of Darrin. He was also nominated for worst director, worst actor and worst remake or sequel. It doesn’t get any more brutally honest than that.
Well, that’s awkward but I guess you can’t expect both of the toddlers to be a natural on TV!
As you know, fraternal twin toddlers Diane Murphy and Erin Murphy shared the role of Tabitha starting in season 3. Erin seemed to be much more comfortable in front of the camera and audiences loved watching Samantha’s adorable little witch! That is why Erin was used more for talking scenes and close-ups. In later seasons, Diane would be dropped from the show because the twins started to look less alike. Talk about sibling rivalry!
Many question how Elizabeth maintained her looks so well. Really, it’s astonishing, and as though she put some sort of anti-aging spell on herself, and that it has lasted ever since.
I hope that when I get to that age, that I can maintain my looks of youth with whatever she used to do it for herself. She looked amazing and youthful throughout her life, up until her untimely death in 1995.
In the 1960’s, CGI still didn’t exist, so other methods of creating “magic” had to be made to get the point across. Stagehands were the solution to creating Samantha’s moments of magic. The actress had to stand with her arms extended up, and the director would have to yell, “Cut!”
In lieu of CGI, the stagehands took away the mess, and she obviously had a lot of help keeping her hands up, because man, that’d be tiring.
In the episode of “Sisters at Heart”, Samantha puts a spell on one of Darrin’s clients, who is a bigot.
The spell caused him to see everyone around him, including himself, as having black skin. For that, the actors had to act in blackface, hence why it wouldn’t be so politically correct today.
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