April 15th, 1933, in Los Angeles, California, an actress was born that would captivate the world. Her most memorable role was on a TV series Bewitched, which ran from 1964 to 1972 on ABC, in which she played Samantha Stephens, a witch married to a mortal man. Her name was Elizabeth Montgomery – whose acting has made her immortal – with a legacy of drama that few realize.
Who was she really? Elizabeth Montgomery appeared in more than 250 live TV productions and two dozen theatrical and TV movies. One just has to look at the movie titles to know that she was a woman who preferred roles with a message, and throughout her career fought intolerance and prejudice.
Daughter of Elizabeth Allen Montgomery and her father Robert Montgomery whom were both actors, she attended the Spence School in New York City and the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. After three years intensive training, she made her first appearance on TV on her father’s 1950s playhouse series called Robert Montgomery Presents. From there her career continued to the long lasting Bewitched series for television.
Her first theatrical movie was The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell, with Gary Cooper, followed a few years later by Johnny Cool, starring Sammy Davis, Jr., followed by Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed, with Dean Martin.
Post Bewitched her roles turned to very dramatic made-for-TV movies, many of which won critical praise. A Case of Rape (1974), saw her play a rape victim who seeks help and is further abused by the court system.
Her movies ran the gamut from The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975), Killing Affair,(1977), Act of Violence (1979)in which a divorced career woman’s life changes when she is beaten and robbed by a street gang. She narrated the film Cover Up (1988), also known as “The Panama Deception” the film that won an Academy Award in 1993. It was a documentary that explored the issues related to Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal.
Elizabeth regularly supported liberal causes and one being The American Foundation for AIDS research. It was the second Darin character, played by Dick Sargent, on Bewitched that died of prostate cancer (not AIDS) in 1994, a few years after he had come out as being gay. He was threatened by the press to expose him and his fake marriage.
Elizabeth’s last movies were all murder thrillers / mysteries: With Murder in Mind (1992), Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story (1993), Corpse Had a Familiar Face, (1994),and Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan (1995).
She had stared in numerous hit made-for-TV movies and made social statements with her life that few will ever achieve. Elizabeth Montgomery died from colon cancer in 1995, eight weeks after she was diagnosed at the age of sixty-two.
Her bewitching smile and nose twitch is still enjoyed by all through re-runs. But her acting ability surpassed the comic sitcom to a dramatic television career that should not be forgotten.
Elizabeth Montgomery was married four times. Her first husband was Fred Cammann, she was then married to the actor Gig Young. Her third marriage was to William Asher, who produced Bewitched. She had three children William, Jr., Robert and Rebecca Asher. Not wishing to marry again she lived with actor Robert Foxworth, for over twenty years to whom she was finally married.
Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery,