Here’s What Happened to ‘Bewitched’ Star Elizabeth Montgomery as Told by Her Biographer and Friend

An iconic figure to emerge from Classic TV of the 1960s was undoubtedly Elizabeth Montgomery, who starred in the supernatural comedy Bewitched. Running from 1964 to 1972, the sitcom looked at the marriage between a witch (her character of Samantha Stephens) and a mortal male (Darrin, played first by Dick York and, then, by Dick Sargent), and the comic chaos that comes from them trying to live a normal life while dealing with visitations from her magical brood.

The show’s popularity was enormous, which is why, when it ended, Elizabeth worked so hard to put it and Samantha behind her as she attempted to prove to the world that she was capable of doing much more than twitching her nose (which is how she made magic happen on air). In fact, when it came to Bewitched, something of a barrier within her came up that was pretty impenetrable, though one person who did break through was Herbie J Pilato, author of The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide to Her Magical Performances and Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery. Sitting down to talk to her over multiple sessions, he came away believing he had really come to know who she was.

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Courtesy Herbie J Pilato/David Holm Photography

“She was everything you could possibly want your favorite TV star to be in real life,” observes Herbie. “I mean, she was so warm and welcoming, especially for someone so private and protected. For me to have been welcomed into her world to talk about Bewitched — a subject she hadn’t addressed in any depth since the show ended — was big. From the first voicemail message from her to our first meeting, she seemed so down to Earth and accessible and a real sweetheart, but at the same time she was also a very complicated person. I saw that, too.”

Before exploring those complications, considering that Herbie — in addition to Elizabeth herself — is the host of this particular tour into her life and career, it’s important to note how he had gained her trust and, ultimately, friendship. Back in 1985, he was working as a page at NBC and was involved with publicity for the TV movie I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later.

“I was upset,” he admits with a laugh, “thinking, ‘Wait a minute. If anybody is going to do a reunion movie about a magical blond woman and a dark-haired mortal man, it should be Bewitched.’ And Bill Asher, the guiding creative force on Bewitched and Elizabeth’s ex-husband, directed the Jeannie movie, which upset me even more. So, long story short, I actually wrote the script for a Bewitched reunion movie, and got it to Bill Asher who at the time just so happened to be working on a reboot of Bewitched. Sony was also putting together a movie version, so it was a Bewitched world. In his new proposed version, it was going to be focused on a nubile witch who Samantha would pop on to introduce and then pop off forever. Elizabeth was going to be making a cameo, which was major.”

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Can-Am/Shutterstock

Unfortunately, financing fell apart and Herbie wondered, instead, if Elizabeth would be willing to cooperate with him on a book looking back at the show (which would gradually evolve into her biography). After Asher checked with his ex-wife, Herbie was given her phone number and eventually found himself sitting in Elizabeth’s home, chatting with her about all things Bewitched.

“When we sat down to talk, she asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?’ recalls Herbie, “and I said, ‘Well, because I believe in Bewitched. I believe there’s a message of prejudice and that it’s about true love. That people can love each other despite their differences. It’s also about a strong ethic in that Darrin wanted to buy things for his wife on his own and care for her, and not depend on magic. Everybody thought Samantha was a pushover, but she wasn’t. It was her choice to live a mortal life. She was really one of the first independent women of TV.’ Anyway, she’s listening to all of this and she says okay about the book, because Bill Asher told her she needed to talk to me and she said, ‘He never tells me I need to talk to anybody.’”

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