1 9 6 4 – 1 9 7 2 (USA)
254 x 30 minute episodes
The ABC comedy Bewitched lasted eight seasons and sparked a trend for supernatural sitcoms in the 1960s. Produced and directed by William Asher – the director of various beach party movies and husband of the show’s star, Elizabeth Montgomery – it was the story of a pretty young witch who decided she’d rather be an average housewife in Connecticut suburbia.
Samantha Stephens (Montgomery) tried her hardest to keep her powers under wraps, but frequent appearances by her mother, Endora (Agnes Moorehead) – who disapproved of Darrin and called him, variously, Donald, Darwin, Durwood or something equally wrong – and other relatives meant she was always trying to get out of some mess.
Samantha’s husband, Darrin – an accountant at New York advertising agency McMann & Tate – also tried to keep the witchcraft under control, but with one wiggle of her nose, Samantha invariably made all the best-laid plans go awry.
Each episode ran basically the same premise: Sam – or one of her relatives – would get Darrin (or another mortal) into trouble and then have 30 minutes to restore normality and sanity.
There were no end of excuses for the neighbours, boss and in-laws for the weird events.
Samantha’s other relatives included her father Maurice (Maurice Evans); practical-joking Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde); forgetful Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne), who always forgot how to undo her spells, and Serena, Sam’s mischievous look-alike but badder-than-bad cousin (also played by Elizabeth Montgomery, but credited as Pandora Sparks).
Housekeeper Esmeralda (Alice Ghostley) was also a witch, albeit a timid soul with diminishing powers.
When Samantha was unwell or needed help, she used the atmospheric continuum to contact her family physician, Dr Bombay (Bernard Fox).
Other characters included the Stephens’ children, Tabitha (also a witch) and Adam (a warlock); nosy neighbours Gladys and Abner Kravitz; Larry Tate (Darrin’s long-suffering boss at the New York advertising agency of McMann & Tate) and Larry’s wife, Louise.
In March 1966, Alice Pearce, who played Gladys Kravitz, died of cancer. The role was taken over by Sandra Gould until the show’s demise in 1972.
Many visitors popped into the Stephens’ Westport household at 1164 Morning Glory Circle, including Julius Caesar, George Washington and Henry VIII.
An unseen star of the show was special effects man Dick Albain, who invented Samantha’s “magic” self-operating vacuum cleaner (it was remote controlled) and suitcases that packed and unpacked themselves (via invisible wires).
Other effects were slightly less high-tech: For example, when objects had to disappear from Samantha’s hand, Elizabeth Montgomery would freeze and Albain would remove the object from her hand. The footage of Albain was then edited out later.
Similarly, Sam’s magical cleaning of the kitchen via witchcraft would be achieved by Samantha saying “swoosh”, raising her arms and standing absolutely still while the crew quickly swept and dusted the set to make the kitchen immaculate before the next shot was filmed!
The young witch, Tabitha, received her own TV show in 1977 – 1978 (although played by a different actress).
Dick York left Bewitched due to an addiction to painkillers. Bad investments left Dick broke, his teeth rotted out (a common problem for drug abusers), and he and his wife were reduced to cleaning houses for a living.
In 1980 Dick got his life together, had his teeth fixed and went back to work, guesting on shows like Fantasy Island and Simon and Simon. His comeback was short-lived, and he devoted the rest of his life to helping the homeless. He died in 1992.
It’s a little-known fact that the theme from Bewitched (written by Jack Keller and Howard Greenfield) actually has lyrics. Don’t believe us? Check the lyrics out here!
The first TV couple to share a bed – not counting Fred and Wilma Flintstone (who weren’t real) – were Darrin and Samantha Stevens in Bewitched. Producers felt they could get away with it because Sam wasn’t human, she was a witch.
Dick York (1)
Dick Sargent (2)
Irene Vernon (1)
Kasey Rogers (2)
Alice Pearce (1)
Sandra Gould (2)