Elizabeth Montgomery is remembered
”Television is such a mediocre medium,” Elizabeth Montgomery huffed in a 1961 interview. Three years later, she proved herself wrong by conjuring up one of TV’s most endearing characters — Samantha Stephens, the good witch of Connecticut, on ABC’s long-running comedy series Bewitched.
For eight seasons, Montgomery-who died of cancer at 62 on May 18 in Los Angeles — and her third husband, William Asher, produced a sitcom that was anything but mediocre. With a fine supporting cast — Agnes Moorehead, Maurice Evans, and Paul Lynde among them — Bewitched was perhaps the most subversively feminist series of its era. Samantha was a welcome rebel, flying (sometimes literally) in the face of TV’s dull happy-homemaker roles. Sure, she could mix a martini and roast a chicken, but with a twitch of her adorable nose she also could change the weather — or the course of history.
Montgomery’s life, like her character’s, was never ordinary. The daughter of actor Robert Montgomery (They Were Expendable), she began her career as a ’50s glamour girl — a latter-day Veronica Lake on Broadway and TV. She married four times: first, socialite Fred Cammann; then actor Gig Young; Asher (with whom she had three children); and, finally, actor-producer Robert Foxworth (Falcon Crest). Off screen, she was a liberal activist, supporting animal rights groups and fighting against AIDS. In 1992, she marched with Bewitched costar Dick Sargent (who succeeded Dick York as Darrin in the sixth season) in a gay-pride parade.
Survived by Foxworth and by her kids, she passed with grace, humor, and independence. ”Win, lose, or draw, I am going to keep on being Elizabeth Montgomery,” she said in 1955 when a reporter asked what actress she’d like to emulate. ”It should be nice going,” the writer opined. For the next 40 years, Elizabeth Montgomery proved her right.