Behind-the-scenes of ‘Bewitched’
Although they were seemingly living their best life on the TV screen, the cast of “Bewitched” had to endure their fair share of hardships. From unfair treatment of cast members to personal tragedies, here are the behind-the-scenes facts from the show!
Agnes Moorehead was mean to another actor
Elizabeth Montgomery’s biographer, Herbie Pilato, has revealed that Dick York, who played the original Darrin on the show and Agnes Moorehead, who played Samantha’s mother, Endora, had a good relationship on-and off-set.
Moorehead’s biographer, Charles Tranberg admitted that Moorehead said she understood York “better than the others.” So, when York left the show, Moorehead wasn’t exactly roused. She was so rude to Dick Sargent (the replacement Darrin) that he cried multiple times on-set.
Montgomery’s personal life impacted the show
Although Elizabeth Montgomery was a phenomenal actress and woman, her personal life would often interfere with the show. One of the traits that eventually came back to haunt her was her soft spot for troubled men. Her first husband, Fred Cammann, was four years older than her and the pair were married for a brief period during the 1950s.
After their divorce, Montgomery married Gig Young in 1956, but the pair separated in 1963 due to Young’s dangerous vices. She didn’t marry William Asher until 1963, and it is said that their relationship troubles sometimes carried over on to the set of Bewitched.
Montgomery and Moorehead fought on set
When Dick York was replaced with Dick Sargent, Agnes Moorehead took out the frustration of losing her friend on the actor. Tensions grew between Elizabeth Montgomery and Moorehead due to Moorehead’s unfounded coldness towards Sargent.
There was one incident where Moorehead told Sargent to kiss her hand as he approached her, followed by Montgomery sarcastically commenting on Moorehead’s inability to make newcomers feel welcome. This fight led to a heated discussion in Moorehead’s dressing room. Moorehead later admitted that she had been wrong.
William Asher was unfaithful to Montgomery
It is reported that the tension in William Asher and Elizabeth Montgomery’s marriage was due to Asher’s wandering eye. This is perhaps why Montgomery sparked up a relationship with Bewitched producer and director, Richard Michaels.
Once the relationship between Michaels and Montgomery became serious, she and Asher decided to go their separate ways. He wasn’t too broken up about it, as his attention had shifted to an actress, Nancy Fox. Biographer Herbie Pilato claims that Asher spent the rest of his life trying to make it up to Montgomery, “crying his heart out for her, saying, ‘It was all my fault.'”
Montgomery was hiding a secret
Throughout her time on the show, Montgomery gave birth to three children. Her second and third pregnancies were written into the show’s scripts, and her children, Tabitha and Adam, were included in the series.
However, for Montgomery’s first pregnancy, the costume department and scriptwriters had to find a way to keep her growing belly under wraps. To hide her figure, Montgomery wore loose-fitting costumes, and the directors would use strategic camera angles and prop placement.
The nose wiggle was a camera trick
Perhaps one of the more memorable quips of Samantha’s personality. Every time Samantha would cast a spell, her nose would wiggle. You may have thought that Elizabeth Montgomery just had very talented facial muscles, but according to Erin Murphy, who played Samantha’s daughter, the “wiggle was actually a camera trick.”
If you look closely, you can see Montgomery moving her top lip more than her actual nose. To exaggerate the nose wiggle, the film was sped up, and sound was added to it. The movement was based on a nervous twitch Montgomery had in real life.
The nosy neighbor had a menacing secret
Alice Pearce did a phenomenal job playing the nosy neighbor, Gladys Kravitz. Although it was all fun and laughs on-screen, Pearce was hiding a daunting secret from the rest of her Bewitched castmates. When she took the role of Kravitz, she had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Although she had undergone surgery, her case was still terminal. Nonetheless, she took the role and powered through it without anyone suspecting a thing. She unfortunately passed in March 1966 and was awarded a posthumous “Outstanding Supporting Actress” Emmy Award two months later.
Montgomery almost left after the fifth season
When Elizabeth Montgomery first signed on to the show, she initially had a five-year contract with ABC. Once the five years passed, Montgomery announced that she wanted to leave the show to further her career.
In fear of losing the witch who had captured the audience’s hearts, ABC convinced her to stay by offering her a new contract that gave her part ownership of the show. Montgomery not only received the big bucks from starring in the show, but she received additional millions due to the show’s success in syndication.
She wasn’t the first choice to play Samantha
Producers of Bewitched didn’t think Elizabeth Montgomery had the chops to play the cheeky witch. They were hoping stage actress Tammy Grimes would be willing to step into the role. Unfortunately for them, Grimes decided to pass on the role of Samantha and went on to do The Tammy Grimes Show.
During this time, William Asher, who was the director of iconic shows such as I Love Lucy, Gidget, and The Patty Duke Show was fresh off his honeymoon with Elizabeth Montgomery. The pair were looking for work together when they stumbled upon the Bewitched script, and the rest is history.
The show helped Montgomery move out of her father’s shadow
Elizabeth Montgomery’s father, Robert Montgomery, was a famous actor and producer that worked for MGM. He debuted under MGM in the film, So This is College, which sparked his successful career.
On April 14, 1928, Robert Montgomery married Elizabeth Bryan Allen, and the couple had three children: Martha Bryan, who passed at 14 months, Elizabeth, and Robert Jr. Elizabeth, who had always been referred to as “Robert Montgomery’s daughter,” strived to establish herself as an actress in her own right. As Bewitched gained popularity, Elizabeth was finally recognized as an actress away from her father’s shadow.
The finale wasn’t as memorable as they hoped
When ending a show as popular and adored as Bewitched, the goal is to tie up loose ends and leave the audience with a touching finale. However, Bewitched sizzled out, and its finale wasn’t as memorable as producers hoped.
It seems that the long-awaited finale, “The Truth, Nothing but the Truth, So Help Me Sam,” was just a repackaged version of the 1965 episode “Speak the Truth.” In the episode, fights ensue when Endora, who is suspicious of Darrin, casts a spell on Samantha’s pin which causes everyone close to it to tell the truth. The episode ends with Darrin and Samantha professing their love to each other.
Dick York had health issues that forced him to leave the show
Dick York suffered a severe injury while filming They Came to Cordura that tore most of the muscles on the right side of his back, leaving his spine permanently damaged. The injury certainly left its mark on York, seeing as he suffered from intolerable pain throughout his time on Bewitched.
In the middle of season five, the pain became too much, and the combination of exhaustion and multiple medications sent him into a seizure. He was rushed to the hospital while filming the “Daddy Does His Thing” episode, and he never set foot on set again. After a few episodes sans-Darrin, Dick Sargent stepped into the role, and the show carried on.
The show often repeated itself
After Dick York left the show, Bewitched began to decrease in popularity. Writers on the show became lazy, and fans watched the show lose it’s magic as it started copying previous storylines and borrowing plots from other shows.
William Asher, who was the producer of the famous sitcom, I Love Lucy, began using some of the beloved sitcom’s plots in Bewitched. For example, in the episode entitled, “Samantha’s Power Failure,” Serena and Uncle Arther receive work at a candy factory dipping bananas in chocolate and nuts then packaging them. For all of you I Love Lucy fans, this sounds a lot like the hilarious chocolate factory sketch. You know the one.
Bewitched had a rivalry with another big show
Due to their similar themes, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie found themselves competing for ratings. This is why producers didn’t want a blonde actress playing the genie in I Dream of Jeannie. Writers and producers from both shows would accuse the other of stealing dialogue, storylines, etc.
One big similarity that was noted between the two was the little movements done by each genie when casting a spell (Samantha’s nose twitch and Jeannie’s blink). It was discovered that a staff writer, James S. Henerson, was writing for both series at the same time, and provided similar storylines for each. He was promptly fired from I Dream of Jeannie.
Montgomery played multiple roles
Elizabeth Montgomery sure had her hands full on the show, seeing as she played multiple parts. Not only did she play the quirky and eccentric witch, Samantha. At one point, she took on the role of Samantha’s cousin, Serena, a hippie witch that never failed to irk the other characters.
To help audiences tell the difference between the two, Serena is usually seen with a shape on her cheek that changes every episode. Apparently, audiences were fooled by the wig Montgomery wore, and many wrote in to the show asking about the actress who played Serena.
Actors had to bring their own wardrobe
Kasey Rogers, who played Louise Tate on the show, admitted that many of the actors were required to bring their own clothes to the set. You may have thought that because Elizabeth Montgomery played the leading character, they would have at least had an extensive wardrobe for her.
Montgomery told the Leader-Times in 1968 that she was also asked to bring in her own clothes for filming because they couldn’t afford a full wardrobe for her. Avid watchers of the show likely remember Agnes Moorehead’s dazzling 8.5-carat brooch that she wore on the show. Apparently, Montgomery admired the pin, and following Moorehead’s passing in 1974, she left the impressive brooch to her on-screen daughter.
The special effects weren’t all that ‘special’
Back then, Hollywood didn’t have the CGI “magic” that it does now. So, in order to create Samantha’s hocus-pocus seem realistic, there was a team of stagehands in charge of creating the mystical effects. They used fast-motion film, backward-motion film, and “invisible” wires to create the illusion of levitation.
If Samantha wanted to use witchcraft to clean the room in a flash, Elizabeth Montgomery would have to stand perfectly still while the director yelled “cut”. At that moment, Montgomery would have to stand perfectly still while crew members rushed around her, collecting the clutter. When “action” was called, the scene would continue from where they left off.
The inspiration came from two different films
Sol Saks, who is credited for creating Bewitched, admitted that the pilot episode was inspired by the films, I Married a Witch and Bell, Book and Candle. Think he was worried that audiences would catch on to his close interpretation of the films? Not really, and here’s why.
Both films were owned by Columbia Pictures. Columbia Pictures was owned by Screen Gems, which is the company that produced Bewitched. In I Married a Witch, a witch attempts to take revenge on a man who executed witches at the Salem witch trials and ends up falling for him. In Bell, Book, and Candle, a modern witch uses a love spell on a man in attempts to have a fun fling but ends up falling for the man.
Three sets of twins played Tabitha
It’s no secret that television shows would often cast twins to play a single role in television shows (cough, cough Full House). Well, Bewitched also used twins to play the role of Tabitha, and not just one pair of twins.
In season 2, episode, “And Then There Were Three,” Samantha and Darrin have a baby daughter named Tabitha, played by Cynthia Black. She was soon replaced by twin girls, Heidi and Laura Gentry who were then replaced by twins Tamar and Julie Young. The Young twins were replaced with twins Diane Murphy and Erin Murphy, who were the last actresses to be cast.
One of the actors had an odd collection
Marion Lorne, who played the endearing Aunt Clara, had a weird obsession that was inspired by Lorne’s real-life collection. Yes, just like quirky Aunt Clara who had a strange fascination with doorknobs, Lorne was also enamored by antique door openers in real life.
In real life, Lorne owned more than 1,000 antique doorknobs. This means that they didn’t have to search far and wide to look for props for the show. After appearing in 27 episodes, Lorne tragically passed away. She was never replaced by a different actress.
It was Elizabeth Montgomery’s idea to name her character’s daughter Tabitha
Montgomery said during a 1967 interview: “I loved it because it was so old-fashioned. I got it from one of the daughters of Edward Andrews, the actor. The two Andrews girls are named Tabitha and Abigail … But, somehow or other, her name came out ‘Tabatha’ on the credit roll, and that’s the way it’s been ever since.”
She continued, “Honestly, I shudder every time I see it. It’s like a squeaky piece of chalk scratching on my nerves.” As an adult, the actress who played Tabitha, Erin Murphy, said: “I always called her ‘Mantha Mommy,’ because I couldn’t say Samantha, and I called Dick Sargent, ‘Dareen Daddy.’ That’s what I knew them as. They really were like parents to me.”
The set was a hand-me-down
Look, we like to think that every set we see on television is the first of its kind, but sets in Hollywood are reused over and over again. The stage that was used in the 1959 film Gidget was a real home that still stands in Santa Monica.
The blueprint design for the film was later edited and reproduced for the Bewitched set. Columbia Pictures also used the patio and living room sets from the film, Gidget Goes to Rome for Bewitched. Their rival show, I Dream of Jeannie decided to use the same set, too! It seems that the stage ended up to be quite a magical one.
One actor wasn’t a fan of the animated intro
The ’60s and ’70s had classic television, and everyone probably remembers the cute animations that you would see before the episode started. This is perhaps another fun attribute that Bewitched has in common with I Dream of Jeannie. Although audiences and showrunners thought the animated intro was an adorable touch, Elizabeth Montgomery wasn’t a fan.
In multiple interviews, Montgomery has admitted that the intro could have been done better. The artwork for the opening was the handiwork of Hanna-Barbera Productions; best known for creating the animated series The Flintstones. The animation changes slightly as the seasons go on. Samantha’s hair gets blonder in the show and the cartoon opening. They even created a new Darrin when the role was recast.
Larry Tate’s son on the show was named after actor David White’s own son
David White, who played the advertising executive Larry Tate, had a son named Jonathan with stage actress, Mary Welch. On May 31, 1958, Welch passed of complications from her second pregnancy.
Unfortunately, Jonathan was a passenger on Pan Am Flight 103 which went down over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988. When Larry and Louise Tate have a son in the series, White requested that the child be named Jonathan to honor his son. David White passed two years later of a heart attack, and he is located next to his son at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
High school kids wrote an episode of the show
On Christmas Eve in 1970, an episode of Bewitched aired called “Sisters at Heart.” What made the episode so special was that it had been written by a diverse group of students from Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, CA. The teacher of the class, Marcella Saunders, reached out to Bewitched producers to use television as a way to get her class excited about reading and writing.
In response to the passionate schoolteacher, Elizabeth Montgomery and William Asher invited the class to visit their set. Upon arrival, the students were welcomed by the stars and were treated to lunch. The class ended up writing their own script for an episode. The episode focused on a friendship between Tabatha and a black student from her school. All 26 names of the students were included in the credits, and the episode ended up winning an Emmy Governor’s Award.
The theme song had lyrics
You’re probably able to pick out the Bewitched theme song from the first few notes due to its catchy and cute melody. But you could only really hum along to the tune since there weren’t any lyrics. Well, we’re here to tell you that everything you thought about the theme song was a lie.
You may have never heard the lyrics in the opening, but they do exist. Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller wrote and composed the theme song for the show, but after hearing it, producers decided to do an instrumental version instead. The lyrics went, “Bewitched, Bewitched, you’ve got me in your spell. Bewitched, Bewitched, you know your craft so well.”