Remembering Dick York
From 1964 to 1969, when prime-time viewers were under the spell of genies, hillbillies, and sexy sorceresses, Dick York was one of America’s most familiar fed-up faces. Every week on Bewitched, York, who died Feb. 21 at 63, could be found right at the end of Elizabeth Montgomery’s twitching nose, huffing and puffing, braying and bemoaning the latest witchcraft that was undermining his attempt at a normal life. As adman Darrin Stephens, York was TV’s quintessential early-’60s husband (com-plete with martinis, golf clubs, sneaky boss, and difficult mother-in-law), and his exasperated clashes with Agnes Moorehead helped make Bewitched TV’s No. 2 show (behind Bonanza) its first season.
When chronic back pain and an addiction to painkillers forced his retirement from Bewitched after five seasons, York traded a career in fantasy for one grim reality after another. By the mid-1970s, he and his wife, Joan, were cleaning apartments and receiving welfare. Recently, though needing a wheel-chair and tethered to an oxygen tank, York worked as an advocate for Michigan’s homeless. But on Nick at Nite’s endless Bewitched reruns, his younger self endures, wrapped around a woman’s magic wand, and loving it.