TV Article

Master of Her Witchcraft

Elizabeth Montgomery is remembered -- The ''Bewitched'' star passed away May 18

Elizabeth Montgomery is remembered

''Television is such a mediocre medium,'' Elizabeth Montgomery huffed in a 1961 interview. Three years later, she proved herself wrong by conjuring up one of TV's most endearing characters — Samantha Stephens, the good witch of Connecticut, on ABC's long-running comedy series Bewitched.

For eight seasons, Montgomery-who died of cancer at 62 on May 18 in Los Angeles — and her third husband, William Asher, produced a sitcom that was anything but mediocre. With a fine supporting cast — Agnes Moorehead, Maurice Evans, and Paul Lynde among them — Bewitched was perhaps the most subversively feminist series of its era. Samantha was a welcome rebel, flying (sometimes literally) in the face of TV's dull happy-homemaker roles. Sure, she could mix a martini and roast a chicken, but with a twitch of her adorable nose she also could change the weather — or the course of history.

Montgomery's life, like her character's, was never ordinary. The daughter of actor Robert Montgomery (They Were Expendable), she began her career as a '50s glamour girl — a latter-day Veronica Lake on Broadway and TV. She married four times: first, socialite Fred Cammann; then actor Gig Young; Asher (with whom she had three children); and, finally, actor-producer Robert Foxworth (Falcon Crest). Off screen, she was a liberal activist, supporting animal rights groups and fighting against AIDS. In 1992, she marched with Bewitched costar Dick Sargent (who succeeded Dick York as Darrin in the sixth season) in a gay-pride parade.

Survived by Foxworth and by her kids, she passed with grace, humor, and independence. ''Win, lose, or draw, I am going to keep on being Elizabeth Montgomery,'' she said in 1955 when a reporter asked what actress she'd like to emulate. ''It should be nice going,'' the writer opined. For the next 40 years, Elizabeth Montgomery proved her right.

Originally posted Jun 02, 1995 Published in issue #277 Jun 02, 1995 Order article reprints
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