Bewitched: What Really Happened Behind The Scenes

Many people remember tuning on the show Bewitched during their childhood. It was a fun and quirky show that children and adults could enjoy together. It didn’t matter who you were or where you lived when the show began airing on September 17, 1964. Everyone loved Samantha’s nose twitch and the quirky antic played up between Samantha and her TV husband Darrin.

A Timeless Television Classic

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In spite of the fact that people have been enjoying this show for generations now, Bewitched has many behind-the-scenes secrets that have been leaked out since the show ended after eight seasons. From switching out characters to actors a few too many drinks on and off set, there was never a dull moment during the making of this timeless television show.

The Darrin Switch

If you have ever watched television airings of Bewitched, you will have noticed that Darrin is played by two different men. Dick York was the first and most popular Darrin. He was in the series until 1969. You see, he had hurt his back years before coming to Bewitched and was on a steady diet of pain pills. One day on the set he became very shaky and collapsed. He was taken to the hospital and decided to quit the show.

Dick Sargent replaced the old Darrin and left viewers confused. What happened to Darrin number one? Ratings dropped and the show came to an end in 1972.

The Third Darrin?

Fans all over were crushed when Darrin number one was replaced with Darrin number two without any sort of explanation. Because Samantha and her family were all witches and warlocks, the change in Darrins could have been easily explained away as a mixed up spell, or something similar.

Strangely enough, Richard Crenna was also offered the part of Darrin. He would have been the third “Dick” in the Darrin dilemma, but he turned down the offer to play the role. If he would have taken the role, we might not have gotten the infamous “Darrin Effect” that people still make jokes about.

Alice Pearce’s Tragedy

One of the most annoying, yet familiar characters on Bewitched was Gladys Kravitz played by actress Alice Pearce. She is easily recognized by her small chin that resulted from an accident when she was only nine. She fell off of a playground swing and landed on her chin. The accident stopped her chin from growing normally, leaving it undersized.

About four months before accepting a role on Bewitched as the nosy neighbor, Alice Pearce was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In spite of being told she was terminal, she never told her co-stars about it. She passed away in 1966 and was replaced by Sandra Gould.

Aunt Clara’s Doorknobs

Hollywood superstars often surprise us by their weird behavior or by the things they collect. When it comes to Marion Lorne, she hits the top hundred charts for weird and almost pointless things to collect.

Marion Lorne played Aunt Clara on Bewitched. In real life, Marion Lorne had a huge collection of antique doorknobs. In fact, it is said that she had over a thousand different doorknobs from long ago. She seemed to have a leaning towards the ornate and Victorian styling. They brought this strange hobby to Aunt Clara’s character, making her one of the most quirky, but subtle characters on the series.

Elizabeth Montgomery

Not only did Elizabeth Montgomery play the television witch Samantha for all eight seasons of the show, but she also played Serena, Samantha’s cousin.

Elizabeth Montgomery was the daughter of actor Robert Montgomery and the Broadway actress Elizabeth Allen. She first appeared on television in the 1950s, after spending three years at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. While she is most remembered for her role as Samantha, she had also appeared in The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, Johnny Cool, The Legend of Lizzie Borden, Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story, and The Panama Deception.

Inspiration for Bewitched

Bewitched was so fun and charming that you might be wondering just where the idea for the show came from. Sol Saks, the creator of Bewitched, came up with the idea after seeing the movies I Married A Witch and Bell, Book, and Candle.

The idea of putting a witch on the screen each week was admittedly risky, but Sol Saks managed to bring out the show’s charm. From Samantha trying to live a normal life as “not a witch” and hiding it from her husband to Darrin’s frustrating interaction with his mother-in-law, the show brought about more laughs than actual controversies at that time.

A Different Samantha

It is hard to imagine anyone but Elizabeth Montgomery playing Samantha. After all, she had the skills and family background to make it big. She also had a cut, devilish charm about her that made her character believable. However, Sol Saks, the creator of Bewitched, originally wanted a different actress to play Samantha.

Tammy Grimes was Mr. Saks first choice for the role of Samantha. She had already won a Best Actress Tony Award in 1961 and was looking forward to an incredible career on the screen and on Broadway. When asked if she would take the role, she turned it down. She didn’t understand why Samantha wouldn’t use her witch powers to do the world good.

Their House

Throughout the series, you can catch little bits and pieces of the interior of the Bewitched house. It is funky and totally 1960s all the way. But how about the outside of the house? Was it in a real neighborhood?

Sets were changed up and used in multiple television series and films. The house that you see in Bewitched was also a neighborhood house in Dennis the Menace, The Partridge Family, and I Dream of Jeannie. The house was built on the Warner Brothers Ranch and was located on Blondie Street. This little fake neighborhood was the backdrop for numerous famous television series and movies.

Sisters at Heart

Before political correctness was coined, Bewitched put out a Christmas episode that portrayed the idea that we are all family, no matter what our skin color is. The episode was written by 22 African American tenth grade students at Jefferson High School. Elizabeth Montgomery and director William Asher had the student visit the set of Bewitched and encouraged them to break out of their shell and write the episode we know as Sisters at Heart.

In the episode, some of the regular actors wear “blackface,” a huge taboo in today’s culture. However, the story is brilliant for the times.

Two Pregnancies

Elizabeth Montgomery had three children in her real life. Two of her pregnancies coincided with the filming of the Bewitched television series. Instead of being replaced or having her pregnancy hidden, it was written into the show. That is how Tabitha and Adam were added to the script. Montgomery was able to continue acting throughout both pregnancies and for both pregnancies, you can clearly see that she was pregnant.

This was pretty amazing for the time. Even today, actresses have to hide their pregnancies while on screen because there is no room or explanation in the plot for the pregnancy.

Little Tabitha

Imagine being able to add your own personal touch to a television show. After her first pregnancy on Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery was given the opportunity to name the new character to the show. She named her Tabitha. Montgomery was excited to be able to choose the name and she loved that the name sounded old fashioned; however, someone messed up on the credit and changed the name to Tabatha.

When the subject of the misspelling came up, Montgomery said, “Honestly, I shudder every time I see it. It’s like a squeaky piece of chalk scratching on my nerves.” The misspelling was never changed and Tabatha has since become a favorite name for witch characters.

Twin Tabithas

The role of Tabitha was played by twins, just liked the Olsen twins played one character in Full House. The Bewitched twins were Erin and Diane Murphy. This was done so that no one child would get worn out from playing the part of Tabitha which proved to be a lot of hours for children so little.

From the start, Erin took to the limelight. She was used in close-ups and for the speaking roles. Diane, on the other hand, was used in long shots and when there wasn’t a speaking part. Erin is still an actress and has recently been in Life Interrupted and in three episodes of The Comeback Kids.

Jonathan Tate

Elizabeth Montgomery was not the only actor who was allowed to name a child on Bewitched. When characters Larry and Louise Tate had a screen child, David White, the actor who played Larry Tate, Darrin’s boss, requested that the child be named Jonathan.

In real life, David White had a son named Jonathan. He was raising his son on his own after his wife died. Tragically enough, David White’s real-life son was on Pan Am Flight 103. He died when the airplane exploded over Scotland in 1988. Two years later, David White died of a heart attack.

The Diamond Brooch

Supporting actresses and actors were expected to bring their own clothing and jewelry to the set. They would bring in their costumes about a week or two before filming and the crew would wash and press the outfits in preparation for filming.

Agnes Moorehead, the infamous witch mother of Samantha, wore all her own clothing. One of her special pieces was a large brooch that she wore in the show. It was set with 8.5 karat diamonds and was given magical powers in the show. After Agnes Morehead passed away, she willed the brooch to her television daughter, Elizabeth Montgomery.

An Unexpected Friendship

Agnes Moorehead, Samantha’s onscreen mother, will always be remembered for being a total thorn in Darrin’s side. Off-screen, it was a totally different story. Agnes Moorehead and Dick York (the first Darrin) were very close friends.

Apparently, Moorehead was a strong religious Fundamentalist. Dick York, on the other hand, was more New Age. While that may sound like a recipe for disaster in today’s world, back then Moorehead truly admired York for his beliefs. She was extremely upset when York did not come back to the show and was replaced by Dick Sargent, the second Darrin on the show.

Television Magic

When you watch Bewitched you will see brooms, cups, and other items seemingly floating in the room. They did not have CGI or any computer special during this time. Instead, stagehand were always on the read to lift a broom into the air or make something float across the room.

Many of the special effects involved starting and stopping the camera. For example, when Samantha would lift her arms to cast a clean up the room spell, the camera would stop rolling, Samantha would have to stand still, arms still up, while the stagehand quickly put the room back together. The camera starts rolling again and, like magic, the audience sees a clean room.

Drinking On And Off Set

Imagine going to work and getting smashed. Or how about having your boss toss a few too many drinks back along with you? It is an incredible thought, but it happened on Bewitched.

When you see the characters drinking booze in the show, they really were drinking alcohol. Sometimes they would get drunk on set, but still the cameras rolled. Even the producer, William Asher, would have a few drinks during filming. The only time they would sober up the set was when the kids were there. Then the adults would drink iced tea inside their tumblers. It sounds like this show was anything but boring. Think they ever had to work through hangovers?

Elizabeth Montgomery’s Obituary

After Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery went on to work in film. For her last memorable work, she narrated The Panama Deception in 1992. Montgomery passed away shortly afterwards in 1995 from an undisclosed form of cancer. Her age was 62, but her obituary told a different story.

The obituary for Elizabeth Montgomery listed her age as 57. She was also listed as single in many obituaries at the time because Montgomery kept her personal life very private. It was not well known that she had married a forth husband, Robert Foxworth, a few years before she passed on.

Unforgettable Fun

While the children of the 1960s and 1970s have all grown, their love of this series has been brought to their children. The characters are not something anyone could ever forget and their faces fill countless memes on the internet.

Unlike the many supernatural television series today, Bewitched had a lighthearted, campy feel to it. Although the show portrayed a rather ridiculous portrait of the 1960s witch, there was no gore or intensity to the show. It was slapstick, tongue in cheek, and all around fun for the entire family that seems to be lacking in television shows today.

Double Timing

There are many notable similarities between Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. The two popular shows aired at the same time and both featured magical women as their stars. They also shared set pieces and a few actors who played guest roles.

The shows shared something else in common, too. James S. Henerson was a well-known writer who worked on television as well as movies such as Someone I Touched and The Love Letter. Henerson actually wrote for both Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie at the same time, and was promptly fired from Bewitched when producers discovered that he was two-timing them. His contributions may have led to some of the similarities between the shows.

A Catchy Tune

Producers of the show considered using a song called “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” from a musical, but instead decided to go with an original song. Although the Bewitched theme song for the show did not have any words during the opening credits, the song was actually written with lyrics. The song was composed by Jack Keller and the lyrics were written by Howard Greenfield. Artists such as Steve Lawrence and Peggy Lee have sung versions of the song.

The song lyrics were written from Darrin’s perspective, if he knew that his wife was a witch, and starts, “Bewitched, bewitched, you’ve got me in your spell..”

When Tragedy Strikes

Producers of Bewitched scheduled rehearsals for the pilot episode on November 22, 1963. Unfortunately, that was the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, so rehearsals were postponed. Director William Asher was a good friend of JFK.

In a similar incident, the episode titled “I Confess” was interrupted by an ABC news broadcast covering the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. Despite Bewtiched‘s whimsical nature, these events clearly indicate the political climate that America was in during the ’60s. People probably enjoyed Bewitched to be able to forget about it for a bit.

The Infamous Nose

Samantha’s infamous nose wiggle was never actually a nose wiggle. According to Erin Murphy, who played daughter Tabitha, this was actually a camera trick to make it look like it was her nose wiggling. Instead, Montgomery would actually move her upper lip, which would sort of cause her nose to wiggle.

According to director William Asher, who was Montgomery’s husband at the time of the show, the nose twitch was something she would do when she got frustrated or nervous. Many people have tried to imitate the nose twitch themselves and now they might actually achieve it since they know the secret.

Chimneys On Set

Since it was the 1960s, you can imagine that there was a lot of smoking between the actors and the crew. The stars and guest stars were known to be heavy smokers. Elizabeth Montgomery, Paul Lynde, and Dick York were alleged chain smokers, while York even took to smoking up to three packs a day.

Erin Murphy, who played the Stephens’ daughter Tabitha, can attest to the amount of smoking that was going on. Murphy has admitted in an interview, “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 Restless Witch

By the fifth season of Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery grew tired of the show and wanted to call it quits. Viewers have noted that her performance in the final three seasons were not quite on par with when she first started the show. At one point, she even stopped wearing a bra while filming in support of the women’s liberation movement.

Desperate to keep her on board, the network gave Montgomery part ownership of the show as a part of a new contract. The new contract ended up earning Montgomery a huge sum of money because she made millions from her pay while on the show and from the show’s syndication.

Many Secretaries

In addition to multiple people playing Darrin Stephens, there were also multiple people who played Betty, Darrin’s secretary at McMann and Tate. Actress Jill Foster played Betty ten times. Other actresses who landed the role of Betty are Sharon DeBord, Alice Backes, Heather Woodruff, Irene Byatt, Samantha Scott, and Emily Banks.

Marcia Wallace also played Darrin’s secretary, before she was receptionist Carol Kester on The Bob Newhart Show. On episodes where we wouldn’t see Betty physically but we could hear her voice, we were actually hearing the voice of Bewitched‘s own Elizabeth Montgomery.

A Woman Of Many Men

Elizabeth Montgomery was allegedly not that happy off the screen. She reportedly had a “father complex,” causing her attraction for abusive lovers. She’s dated the likes of Elvis, Dean Martin, and Gary Cooper. She was married to a New York socialite for less than a year, then to actor Gig Young for seven years before marrying Bewitched director William Asher.

Their ten-year marriage ended in divorce, due to an affair that Montgomery was having with director Richard Michaels. The relationship would only last a couple years. At that point, Montgomery remained generally private about her life, as many didn’t know she was married a fourth time, to actor Robert Foxworth, by the time she died.

Dick York’s Back

As many know, the original Darrin Stephens, Dick York, had left the show due to back problems. York injured his back while he was filming the 1959 western They Came To Cordura. Since then, his back has never been the same and by the time he was on Bewitched, the show had to have special furniture to support him.

The cast and crew were supportive as well, helping him get around the set if he needed it. He had admitted after leaving the show, that he help terrible for not being able to finish it out.

A Reason To Leave

After Dick York had to leave the show in 1969 and it was determined he would not return, director William Asher wanted to cancel the show. Ratings were still pretty good at the time, so after airing a few episodes without York, Dick Sargent quickly took his place, much to the confusion of audiences.

The noticeable replacement went unexplained, because Asher figured that viewers should understand that Sargent was an actor playing a role. On Sargent’s first day on set to read the script, Agnes Moorehead, who played mother-in-law Endora, allegedly said, “I don’t like change” in front of the entire cast.

Bewitched In The Twilight Zone

Almost all the main characters of Bewitched have separately starred in episodes of The Twilight Zone. These actors include Dick York, Agnes Moorehead, David White, Sandra Gould, Alice Pearce, Dick Wilson, and Elizabeth Montgomery.

Montgomery starred in the premiere of the third season in 1961, in what was The Twilight Zone‘s 66th episode. The episode, titled “Two,” features a man and a woman who find themselves in an abandoned, war-torn town. The man and the woman walk around the deserted city, living off what they can find, and learning to live with each other since they are the only ones left.

Young Endora

Before she was everyone’s favorite sister, Marcia Brady, she was a little witch! Maureen McCormick was featured in two episodes of Bewitched when she was a young girl. Both times she played a younger version of Samantha’s mother, Endora.

In the first episode, she played Samantha and Darrin’s daughter in a fantasy sequence. In the episode, they name the daughter after her maternal grandmother. In the second episode that McCormick was in, she actually played a younger version of Endora, when she is transformed into a little girl because of witchcraft. This was McCormick’s first notable television appearance and her career has only skyrocketed from there.

Fantasy Television

It was pretty risky to air a television show about a witch during the 1960s. Many groups, especially in southern states, wanted to boycott the show because they thought that the show would promote devil worship!

Bewitched turned out to be a huge success, becoming the longest-running series in the group of “fantasy sitcoms” that were popular during the 1960s. It aired for eight seasons, running past The Addams Family, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Munsters. According to imdb.com, it was the last surviving example of the fantasy genre by the time it went off the air in 1972.

Elizabeth & William

Elizabeth Montgomery’s marriage to William Asher was her longest, so it’s easy to assume that the two were quite close. Bewitched creator Sol Saks recalled in his memoir that Montgomery and Asher were hired together because they were looking for a project to do together. Their agents would send them out as a team.

They were such a good team, that they owned their own production company together called “Ashmont.” Ashmont would end up producing the final season of Bewitched. Even on the show, you could catch glimpses of their close relationship. In a 1969 episode, a valentine with their initials is on the wall of one of the scenes.

A Show With Many Sponsors

1960s television was nothing like it is today, with the incessant amount of commercials. The producers wasted no time in giving their sponsors some air time. In the show’s early days, the animated opening credits featured the new current sponsor for the show. The sponsor’s logo would first appear onscreen, with a voice saying “[the sponsor’s name] presents,” followed by a brief cartoon advertisement for the sponsor.

Regular sponsors included Clairol, Kodak, Reynolds Aluminum, and Bristol-Meyer’s Drugs, Oscar Mayer, Quaker Oats, and Aunt Jemima. Bewitched also featured some sponsors on actual episodes, including Chevrolet, which is further elaborated on the next slide.

Bewitching Chevys

Chevrolet is one of the show’s original sponsors, so it’s no wonder that every car on the show is a Chevy for the first six years. Chevrolet wanted to market their cars to middle-class suburbanites, who were probably made up much of the show’s viewership.

The car prominently features was a 1964 Chevelle Malibu, which proved to be successful in the beginning. These were marketed to the type of American that Darrin Stephens represented as a “30 something, upwardly mobile, [and] college educated” kind of guy, according to curbsideclassic.com. Chevrolet worked hard to promote their cars, glamorizing the suburban life with fancy convertibles.

A Popular Plot

Anyone who has watched television is probably familiar with the popular plot from I Love Lucy, in which Lucy and Ethel are working at a chocolate assembly line and can’t handle it. A lot of shows have taken to recreating the scene within their own stories, and Bewitched is no exception.

In an episode called “Samantha’s Power Failure,” after cousin Serena and Uncle Arthur get their powers taken away, they have no other choice but to join the regular workforce. They take up jobs at a confectionery factory and are tasked with making chocolate covered bananas. Hilarity ensues as the two deal with bananas, chocolate, and nuts flying all over the place.

Unfortunate Passings

According to some fans, the show might be cursed. People speculate this because a majority of the cast has passed away due to cancer-related causes. Alice Pearce quietly passed away after not telling anyone about her ovarian cancer. George Tobias, who played Alice Pearce’s onscreen husband, passed away in 1980 due to bladder cancer.

Dick Sargent passed away in 1994 due to prostate cancer, while Agnes Moorehead passed away from uterine cancer in 1974. Finally, Bewitched‘s star, Elizabeth Montgomery passed away after being diagnosed with colon cancer. There’s no way to say if the show really is cursed or not because of this, but needless to say it is an odd coincidence.

Tabitha

After Bewitched ended, a spin-off premiered in 1977. Tabitha, was about Samantha and Darrin’s children all grown up. The show featured Tabitha and her brother Alex, who both worked at a television station and dealt with their supernatural powers. The show was not received well by audiences and therefore, was short lived.

There were many inconsistencies between the Tabitha and Bewitched, most notably the fact that Adam was not only made Tabitha’s older brother, he was also a mortal. The original actress who played Tabitha, Erin Murphy, wasn’t brought on to play the lead, probably because she was still too young at the time, and the show featured the Stephens children as adults.

Animation Of The Opening Credits

The animated opening credits were created by Hanna-Barbera productions. Elizabeth Montgomery has allegedly said that she thought the company could have done a better job, but the animated opening still remains quite popular to this day.

The opening cartoons were so popular, they even made guest appearances on season six of The Flintstones, voiced by Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York themselves. Hanna-Barbera proved to be quite successful at cartoons, making hits like Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, and The Quick Draw McGraw Show. Hanna-Barbera later became the cartoon empire that we now know today at The Cartoon Network.

RIP Bernard Fox

Along with playing the role of Dr. Bombay, actor Bernard Fox also appeared in A Night to Remember, Hogan’s Heroes, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Andy Griffith Show. Fox’s career started early, at the mere age of 18 months old! He was a fifth generation actor, and quickly followed in his parents’ footsteps. Although most of his acting career took place in the ’60s, Fox made guest appearances on a myriad of television shows and films over the decades, including M*A*S*H, Titanic, and The Dukes of Hazzard.

Sadly, Fox passed away December 14, 2016 due to heart failure at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife, daughter, and two grandchildren.