Long before Harry Potter brought witchcraft and wizardry into everyone’s minds, there was Bewitched. Elizabeth Montgomery starred as Samantha Stephens, an ordinary housewife who just happened to have magical powers. And she really must have cast a spell on audiences, as the show was an immediate hit and is still in syndication today.
Despite all of that success and the show’s family-friendly plots, there was some less-than-magical behavior going on behind the scenes. In fact, it’s surprising the show ran smoothly for just one season, let alone eight!
1. Elizabeth Montgomery was the show’s headline star, but did you know that she performed another role on Bewitched? She also played Samantha’s cousin, Serena, and was credited as the paranormal Pandora Spocks.
2. And speaking of Elizabeth, some elements of her personal life were incorporated into the show. While the actress was pregnant three times, two of them were written into the plot as the magical births of Tabitha and Adam.
3. During casting, producers wanted Darrin to be played by a young actor named Dick Sargent. He was unable to make a long term commitment, however, so the role fell to Richard Crenna. He also declined, leaving Dick York to become the male lead.
4. After five seasons on the show, however, York magically vanished from the scene. He was replaced by none other than Sargent; producers had gotten their dream Darrin after all. But what happened to York?
5. While filming They Came to Cordura, York suffered a terrible injury, tearing several muscles in the right side of his back. Doctors gave him pain medication, but the actor never truly recovered. Something on the Bewitched set, though, put him over the edge.
6. During the fifth season, York was filming despite a 105 degree fever. While sitting on the set, the flickering spotlight proved to be too much. York had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital; he resigned instantly, as if by magic.
7. Montgomery seemed like a wholesome housewife on the show, but that was just acting. Erin Murphy, who played Tabitha, revealed that Elizabeth actually had a “really dirty sense of humor.”
8. Bewitched was inspired by two films: Bell, Book, and Candle and I Married a Witch. Series creator Sol Saks actually modeled the show’s pilot after the plot of the movies!
9. Samantha famously wiggled her nose to activate her magic, but Erin Murphy claimed that Montgomery actually wiggled her upper lip. Director William Asher said it was a nervous twitch.
10. Samantha would also raise her arms as the magic took place around her. In reality, however, she had to stand completely still as crew members manipulated the set. Talk about a magical arm workout!
11. One of Bewitched’s iconic characters was Gladys, as played by Alice Pearce. Despite that status, she suffered in silence through filming before vanishing completely from the show. What was going on behind the scenes?
A few months before filming began, Pearce was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. Despite her obvious weight loss, Alice never told the cast what she was going through. After she suddenly passed, however, she was honored in a special way.
12. Two months after her death, Alice was posthumously awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy. It was a fitting tribute to one of the women who helped us fall in love with Bewitched.
St. Louis Post Dispatch
13. Hollywood isn’t all that glamorous, especially for supporting actors. During filming, they would have to bring their own clothing from home to wear on set! Some wardrobe pieces, though, were a bit more special.
14. Agnes Moorehead wore a special brooch when playing Endora, Samantha’s mother. She knew Elizabeth Montgomery was struck by the pin’s beauty so, when she died, she bequeathed it to her on-screen daughter.
15. While Darrin and Endora couldn’t stand each other, Dick York and Agnes Moorehead actually struck up a strong friendship. That caused tension with some other actors, though.
16. Understandably, Moorehead didn’t like it when York was replaced by Dick Sargent. In fact, a handful of episodes were even filmed without the new leading man appearing at all!
17. Aunt Clara had an unusual hobby: collecting doorknobs. That quirk was inspired by real life, though, Actress Marian Lorne actually collected doorknobs herself and used her own favorites as props on the show.
18. When Larry and Louise Tate had a baby, actor David White requested that his on-screen son be named Jonathan. He did it in memory of his own son, who died on Pan Am Flight 103.
19. The episode “Sisters at Heart” was written by 22 African-American students at Jefferson High School in South Central Los Angeles. While the plot had a strong anti-racism element, one aspect of it didn’t age too well…
The episode featured a spell that made one of Darrin’s racist clients see everyone with black skin. Unfortunately, that effect was achieved using black face. Good Concept. Terrible execution.
20. Towards the end of her time on Bewitched, Montgomery stopped wearing a bra while filming! She did it in support of the women’s liberation movement, but it still caused a bit of a stir.
21. Did you know the Bewitched theme song actually had lyrics? The words are from a man’s perspective about how he’s under the spell of a beautiful woman. Maybe that’s what Darrin was thinking behind the scenes?
22. Bars and alcohol featured prominently in many Bewitched episodes, so much so that the cast got drunk on set. Everyone from the actors through producer William Asher was known to knock back a few beverages during the long day of filming.
23. In a supernatural twist, Bewitched was linked to some dark days in history. The first day of rehearsals was the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated and news of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination interrupted another episode. But there’s another eerie coincidence affecting the cast…
24. Many stars of Bewitched either died early or of cancer, including Elizabeth Montgomery, Alice Pearce, Paul Lynde, Dick Young, and Dick Sargent. Perhaps there was something more supernatural going on than we thought.
Herbie J. Pilato
25. For all it’s magic, the Bewitched neighborhood was actually used in multiple Hollywood projects. Gladys’ house next door, for example, was home to the Partridge Family. The house must have been magic because the cast of that show went on to do big things.
1. Danny Bonaduce: As wisecracking middle son Danny Partridge, Bonaduce played to his strengths, as castmates often described the lovable redhead as a troublemaker on set. Bonaduce’s life has since been filled with ups and downs, and today he hosts a morning talk/music show in Seattle.
2. Shirley Jones: The matriarch of the Partridge Family, Jones later revealed that her immense success on the show drove her first husband, Jack Cassidy, into the arms of another woman. Fortunately, Jones rebounded from this heartbreak and continues to enjoy a successful acting career.
The Partridge Family Wikia / The Wealth Record
3. Brian Forster: After replacing Jeremy Gelbwaks as the young Chris Partridge in season two, Forster remained the drummer for the fictional family band until the show’s cancellation. The 59-year-old continues to act in community productions and also enjoys a career as an amateur race car driver.
4. David Cassidy: The Partridge Family frontman and a ’70s pop sensation, Cassidy loathed his teen idol status and turned to a life of substance abuse to cope. His struggle with alcoholism began to show its effects later in life, and after falling into a coma in 2017, Cassidy passed away from liver and kidney failure at the age of 67.
5. Susan Dey: While playing the eldest Partridge daughter Laurie, Dey fell hard for co-star David Cassidy, though when she learned the feeling wasn’t mutual, she severed all ties with him. Dey went on to star as Grace Van Owen on L.A. Law for which she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series in 1988.
Golden Globes / The Wealth Record
6. Dave Madden: Known for his role as the family band’s manager, Reuben Kincaid, Madden reportedly didn’t get along with Shirley Jones’ husband, Marty Ingels, which created a good amount of tension on set. Madden continued to act until 1998 and passed away in 2014 at age 82.
The Partridge Family Wiki
7. Rick Segall: To spark the ratings, The Partridge Family added four-year-old Segall as cutesy neighbor Ricky Stevens at the start of season four. The move did little to save the show, however, and following an on-and-off film and television career, Segall now makes a living as a stage actor.
8. Suzanne Crough: Remembered as tambourine-playing Tracy Partridge, Crough’s acting career lasted only until 1980 when she decided to retire to a life outside of the spotlight. Sadly, Crough passed away from a rare form of cardiomyopathy in 2015.
The Hollywood Reporter
9. Mark Hamill: The iconic actor is most often associated with Luke Skywalker, but in 1971, a 20-year-old Hamill played Laurie’s love interest Jerry in the episode “Old Scrapmouth.” Today, Hamill primarily works as a voice actor, lending his talents to characters like the Joker, Red Skull, and Chucky the killer doll.
IMCBD / Jedi News
10. Richard Pryor: Hailed as one of the greatest comedians of all time, Pryor appeared as club owner A.E. Simon in the season-one episode “Soul Club.” After years of heavy smoking and drinking, Pryor passed away in 2005 just nine days after his 65th birthday.
11. Farrah Fawcett: Before her iconic red swimsuit poster lined every teenage boy’s bedroom, a relatively unknown Fawcett appeared in the second episode of the series, “The Sound of Money.” Following years of success as both an actress and a model, Fawcett passed away in 2009 after a three-year battle with cancer.
Pens & Patron
12. Rob Reiner: In the season-two episode “A Man Called Snake,” Reiner guest-starred as a rough biker that becomes smitten with Laurie. Today, the actor-director is known for his diverse body of work, which includes Misery, The Princess Bride, and This Is Spinal Tap.
Sitcoms Online / Fandango
13. Ray Bolger: Appearing in episode three as Shirley’s father, Bolger is perhaps best known for playing Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Bolger continued to act regularly until 1984 and passed away three years later from bladder cancer.
14. Jodie Foster: The legendary actress made an appearance in the season-three episode “The Eleven-Year Itch” as Julie Lawrence, the daughter of one of Shirley’s old flames. Three years later, Foster made her breakout appearance in Taxi Driver and went on to become a two-time Academy Award winner.
Sitcoms Online / The Freeman
15. Johnny Bench: A Hall-of-Fame catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, Bench appeared as a waiter in the season-three episode “I Left My Heart in Cincinnati.” Bench is active in the world of Major League Baseball and makes frequent appearances at Reds games.
IMDb / CBS New York
16. Slim Pickens: Rodeo star and famed cowboy actor Slim Pickens made a guest appearance in the season-three episode “Nag, Nag, Nag.” He went on to appear in notable films such as Dr. Strangelove and Blazing Saddles before passing away in 1983.
17. Margaret Hamilton: Another Wizard of Oz transplant, Hamilton – better known as the Wicked Witch of the West – appeared in the season-four episode “Reuben Kincaid Lives” as Dave Madden’s on-screen mother. She continued to act until ’82 before passing away from a heart attack three years later.
18. Jackie Coogan: Best remembered as the Kid in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid and as Uncle Fester in The Addams Family TV series, Coogan appeared in an episode of The Partridge Family in ’70 and then again in ’73. He retired shortly after and passed away from heart failure in 1983.
criterioncollection / YouTube
19. Harry Morgan: Also appearing in “The Sound of Money,” Morgan played “Whiplash” Willie Larkin, a con man that fakes an injury after a fender bender with the Partridges. He went on to star as Colonel Sherman T. Potter in M*A*S*H and enjoyed a successful career before passing away in 2011.
Pinterest / Stumptown Blogger
20. John Astin: After appearing as Gomez Addams alongside Jackie Coogan in The Addams Family, Astin followed his former co-star’s lead and appeared in the 1973 episode “Diary of a Mad Millionaire.” He remains active in Hollywood to this day, most recently lending his voice to the 2018 TV series Justice League Action.
Pinterest / The Bloom