Bewitched: Behind The Scenes Of The Magical Hit Sitcom
Bewitched was one of the biggest sitcoms of the 1960s and its cultural influence is still being felt today. From 1964 to 1972, viewers around the world fell in love with Samantha the Witch, her mortal husband Darrin, and their adorable children Tabitha and Adam. Don’t forget their slew of kooky friends and family too! Lots of stuff also happened to the cast members behind the scenes during the series’ eight-year run on air. We have all the juicy details and fun facts about Bewitched right here. Will we be getting a reboot of the sitcom anytime soon? Read on to find out!
1. A Witch By Any Other Name
The main character, played by Elizabeth Montgomery, was almost a different person with a much different name. The creator of the series, Sol Saks, had someone else in mind when he came up with the idea. Namely, actress Tammy Grimes.
Saks had originally wanted Tammy Grimes to play the role of Samantha Stephens. And he had also planned on naming Samantha’s character Cassandra. What he hadn’t bargained on, however, was that Grimes was less than enthusiastic about Bewitched and turned the offer down.
2. That Nose Wiggle
Elizabeth Montgomery’s famous nose wiggle has long been a topic of debate among Bewitched fans worldwide. Some say that the nose wiggle was all Hollywood magic, and other claims that Montgomery only got the role of Samantha because she was able to wiggle her nose. So, what is the truth?
The truth is that Elizabeth Montgomery was already cast for the role of Samantha before the directors decided on the nose wiggle. And it wasn’t all just Hollywood magic. The nose wiggle was in part a personal twitch of Montgomery’s when she got nervous but in actuality, she would twitch her upper lip. The film was sped up slightly and the xylophone was added to give extra emphasis.
3. A Tale Of Two Darrins
After appearing in 156 episodes, Dick York was mysteriously replaced by Dick Sargent. While the two indeed had the same first name, the change was noticed by fans everywhere. In the series, the change was never addressed, leaving fans scratching their heads.
The dramatic switcheroo came to be known as “Darrin Syndrome” when one character is swapped out for another with no explanation given. Many people were displeased with the change, including some of the Bewitched cast members, such as Agnes Moorehead. However there was an explanation…
4. Darrin’s Health
The actor who played the original Darrin, Dick York, sustained a painful back injury during the filming of the 1959 movie “They Came To Cordura.” The injury followed York all throughout his life and caused problems for him while filming Bewitched.
During Bewitched’s fifth season, Dick York’s physical health started bothering him and he was frequently staged in a sitting position or at times just cut out all together on a “business trip.” By the beginning of the shows sixth season, the producers had to find a new Darrin.
5. How Old Was Endora?
Anyone who has seen Bewitched knows that in the Bewitched universe, witches and warlocks live much longer than mortals. Endora’s age on the show became somewhat of a running joke as she would occasionally name drop some very old ex-boyfriends.
Endora didn’t always keep her story consistent, and she might have just been exaggerating, but in one episode she revealed herself to be around 5,500 years old! She casually stated that she had dated “Otzie the Ice Man,” who has been carbon-dated to have lived around 3500 BC.
6. Multiple Pregnancies
Actress and Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery had three children. The eldest was born in 1964, and the next two were actually written into the script of Bewitched and added to the Stephens family in the form of Adam and Tabitha.
Montgomery chose the name for her on-screen daughter. She went with Tabitha because she thought it sounded “old fashioned,” and simply loved the name. Due to a typo, the credits listed the name as “Tabatha,” much to Montgomery’s dismay. According to her, seeing the error was like “a squeaky piece of chalk scratching on” her nerves.
7. An Actress Playing Multiple Roles
Not only did Elizabeth Montgomery play the star of the show, Samantha, but she also played a few minor roles, such as her own cousin named Serena. Serena was a hippie-type witch that always managed to get on Samantha’s last nerve.
Elizabeth Montgomery wore a wig and used different makeup to play Serena but was still able to fool some of the people who worked on the show into thinking she was someone else the first time she showed up on set in full Serena garb.
8. Kooky Aunt Clara
There were lots of oddball characters in the Bewitched series, but Aunt Clara, played by actress Marion Lorne, certainly takes the cake as being the kookiest of all the characters. She was well-known for always being more than willing to use her magic, even though most of her spells backfired.
Aunt Clara was also well known for her love of doorknobs. She loved to collect them and would often take them with her while traveling. In real life actress Marion Lorne had an extensive collection of doorknobs and would use some of her own as props on the show.
9. Magic Behind The Scenes
There wasn’t CGI back in the 1960s so the directors of Bewitched had to get creative when it came to making the magic happen on screen. And back in those days there was a big price to pay for dealing with the supernatural.
For example in order to create the affect of a room instantly cleaning itself while Elizabeth Montgomery was tidying up a room, she would have to stand in one place, without moving a muscle, and wait until the crew was finished cleaning up and the director yelled action until she could move again.
10. A Difficult Day For Filming
Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery was blessed to have many close personal friends in Hollywood. Among her friends included such big names as Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, and Gary Cooper. She was also close personal friends with President John F. Kennedy.
Filming for the pilot episode of Bewitched was schedule to start on November 22, 1963. In a shocking turn of events, that was the exact same day that President Kennedy was assassinated. Montgomery was so heartbroken by the event that filming of the episode had to be delayed.
11. Multiple Tabithas
It might not surprise you to hear that the role of Samantha and Darrin’s daughter Tabitha was played by multiple child actors throughout the running of Bewitched. But it might surprise you to hear that the role was played by five different young actresses.
The role started off being played by Cynthia Black in 1966. After that, the part of Tabitha was played by three different sets of twins, starting with Heidi and Laura Gentry, then Tamar and Julie Young, and lastly Diane and Erin Murphy. Now that’s a lot of Tabithas!
12. Samantha Was The Queen
If you haven’t seen the series in a while, you might have forgotten that our dear Samantha Stehens was Queen of the Witches. In the opening episode of Season 4 of the beloved series, the Queen of the Witches abdicates the throne and names Samantha as her successor.
Samantha didn’t accept the position easily though. She wasn’t sure that she would be able to keep up with both her human and witchy duties, and also Darrin was definitely against the idea. She eventually accepted of course, and it wouldn’t have been the same without her.
13. A Different Darrin
Richard Crenna was actually on the short list of the actors eyed to take on the role of Darrin Stephens on the series. He wasn’t the first choice, but he was up there. There was another actor who almost took the role as well.
An actor by the name of Dick Sargent was going to be the main male lead, but while the casting directors were still on the hunt to find the perfect Samantha, he took another acting job. In the end, Dick York landed the role and Sargent took on the role later in the series.
14. Other Mysterious Disappearances
Darrin wasn’t the only character that was nonchalantly swapped out in in the middle of the season. So was that pesky neighbor Gladys Kravitz who was always poking around where she didn’t belong. The first Gladys was played by actress Alice Pearce.
The character became well known for her high-pitched screams and freak-outs after seeing some magic while snooping where she shouldn’t have been. Then later in the series Gladys is changed out for a different actress, Sandra Gould. No explanation was given in the series, but the reason was that Pearce had sadly passed away after a battle with cancer.
15. Repeated Scripts
The show’s popularity and ratings started to fall after Dick York left the show. Along with the show’s ratings, the writing on the show started to get sluggish. As such, many storylines were “borrowed” from other series or just repeats of old storylines.
One of the producers on the show, William Asher, had been the director on the wildly popular sitcom I Love Lucy, so some of the storylines were taken from that show and recycled for Bewitched, slightly altered. One of the more famous episodes that were taken from I Love Lucy was an episode called “Samantha’s Power Failure,” in which Serena and Uncle Arthur were working at a candy factory.
16. The Rival Show
With success comes imitations, and Bewitched was no exception. Only a few years after the premiere of Bewitched, another magic-based show took to the TV waves called I Dream of Jeannie. But it wasn’t as much of a rival as we think of it today.
While both of the series revolve around women with magical powers, I Dream of Jeannie wasn’t all that popular during its initial airing. In fact, I Dream of Jeannie, starring Barbara Eden, only ranked in the top 30 twice during its five years on air. It was only later that the show became popular from reruns.
17. Yes, There Are Words
Now, this is one you probably didn’t know. That catchy theme song that’s played at the start of every episode actually has lyrics. Apparently the producers were in such a rush to get the pilot episode out that they just used the instrumental version.
The instrumental version was later given lyrics, but by then it was too late. The intro theme song remained the instrumental version throughout the series’ eight-year run. It wasn’t until the movie that the version with lyrics was used. Now you can sing along with the song!
18. Even Witches Get Tired
Yes, that’s right, even the magically inclined can get worn out. Elizabeth Montgomery eventually grew tired of playing the role of Samantha Stephens and wanted to get out and move on to other things. But it wasn’t an easy break.
Elizabeth Montgomery reportedly wanted to leave the show after its fifth season, around the same time that Dick York left the show. She thought it was a golden opportunity for everything to wrap up nicely. Montgomery was a mother to five children and wanted to move on with her career and spend more time with the family. But the producers convinced her to stay.
19. A Spinoff
Just five years after Bewitched ended, a spinoff show called Tabitha was created by Jerry Mayer and aired on ABC. The show was based on Samantha and Darrin’s daughter by the same name, Tabitha. But the effort was very short lived.
Tabitha only lasted for one season, 11 episodes in total, and while ratings for the show started off good, things quickly went south. When the first season ended, it was ranked 81st out of 104 programs. Ouch…Maybe if they had Elizabeth Montgomery on the show things might have turned out differently.
20. Darrin’s Secretaries
Turns out Darrin and the nosey neighbor weren’t the only characters that fell victim to the “Darrin Syndrome” and got the old switcharoo. Darrin worked at McMann and Tate, an advertising agency that also seemed to be plagued with the condition.
It seemed like every time viewers got to visit Darrin’s office, he had a different secretary. And its not that it was a different character in the series. She was always named Betty, but not always the same woman. Marcia Wallace played the role for a while and so did Jill Foster, just to name a few.
21. Never Saying It Right
Remember how much Endora detested Darrin? Well, she had many ways of showing her disdain for her newfound son-in-law, one of which was never saying his name correctly. Endora, played by Agnes Moorehead, took advantage of every opportunity to address him by different “D” names.
Out of the many, many names Endora called Darrin, a few of them were Dobbin, Darryl, Durwood, Delmore, and many more. She says his name correctly only a few times, so few that you can actually count them. There were only eight times she correctly called him Darrin.
22. The One With The Most
Believe it or not, Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery managed to appear in every single episode of the series, 254 in total. But can you guess which character appeared second most frequently in the series? Nope, it wasn’t Darrin, because two actors played him.
It was actually Larry Tate, who was played by actor David White in his breakthrough performance. He played the role of Darrin’s boss at the advertising agency McMann and Tate. He appeared in a total of 166 episodes, which is not too shabby.
23. The Name
Bewitched was not only a hit TV sitcom, it also heavily impacted culture in the United States. The name Samantha was not popular before the show hit the air but when Bewitched arrived, the name suddenly made a huge comeback.
Apart from making the name Samantha big again, actress Elizabeth Montgomery also made big waves in activism. She was one of the very first Hollywood celebrities to come out in support of the LGBT community and even volunteered for AIDS organizations.
24. Supporting Cast Wardrobe
According to one supporting cast member, Kasey Rogers, everyone on the show that wasn’t in the main cast, had to bring their own clothes. The clothing had to be brought in at least a week in advance to get TV ready.
The wardrobe department would take the clothing off to be cleaned and ironed in preparation for being presented on-screen. Rogers played the character of Louise Tate, Samantha’s closest mortal friend. The character had previously been played by actress Irene Vernon.
25. Darrin and Endora
While Endora simply hated Darrin on set, off camera things were quite the opposite. Actress Agnes Moorehead and Dick York were very close. After years of acting together, the two had come to be great friends. That was one of the reasons why she didn’t want to see him replaced.
“Dick York absolutely loved Agnes Moorehead . . . quite simply the relationship between Dick York and Agnes Moorehead was the exact opposite of the relationship between Darrin and Endora,” Bewitched historian Herbie Pilato stated. The two actors reportedly bonded over their passion for religion and spirituality.
26. Agnes and Sargent
Not only did Agnes Moorhead not want to see her close friend replaced by another actor, she didn’t quite get along with his replacement. Moorhead reportedly never got along with Dick Sargent, real life mimicking the interactions between their on-screen personas.
That must have made playing the roles of Endora and Darrin all the easier. The two reportedly would frequently have major fights on set. But just like family, all that fighting just ended up bringing Moorehead and Sargent closer together in the end. The two eventually became lifelong friends.
27. Inspiration Behind It All
The creator of Bewitched, Sol Saks, found his inspiration from two different movies, “I Married A Witch” and “Bell, Book and Candle,” combining elements from both to make the beloved sitcom. The script of the pilot episode was essentially the script of the movies.
What about legal issues you ask? Well, both of the films are owned by Columbia TriStar Television so the creator wasn’t really worried about it and neither was Columbia. And why should they be? The Bewitched series has been raking in the cash since the day it aired.
28. “Sisters at Heart”
One of the Bewitched episodes was very special because it was written by a group of 10th graders from a mostly African-American high school in South Central Los Angeles. The episode dealt with a range of sensitive issues such as race and acceptance.
In the episode, one of Darrin’s clients is racist so Samantha casts a spell on him, making him see everyone around him as black, including himself. Then Tabitha casts a spell for her friend Lisa and her to each have spots of the other’s skin color so they can be “real sisters”. For the time, it was extremely progressive. Read on for some more interesting Bewitched facts.
29. The Starburst Brooch
Endora, played by actress Agnes Moorehead, would often wear her own clothing and accessories on the set of Bewitched. She became famous for wearing one of her diamond-encrusted sunburst brooches. Elizabeth Montgomery really loved the brooch and let Moorehead know.
Moorehead left the priceless item to Montgomery in her will. After Montgomery passed away it was left to her son, who put the item up for auction so a fan could have something that was beloved by two of the greatest actresses of the 1960s.
30. You Might Have Seen It Before
Depending on how much of a film-buff you are, you might have noticed the set of Bewitched being used in other series and TV shows. The house’s façade came from a 1959 film called Gidget, while the living room and patio both came from one of the film’s sequels called Gidget Goes to Rome.
Oddly enough, the same exact set was also used on the show’s rival series, I Dream of Jeannie. Recognize the house that was used for Doctor Bellows’? Furthermore, the Kravitz’s house would eventually become the house featured on The Partridge Family.
31. A Forgettable Ending
Series finales are generally something you want to be packed with watershed moments and plot points that viewers and fans of the show to remember. Well, Bewitched wasn’t like other series. In fact, it’s easy to look back angrily at the epic show’s lackluster finale episode.
The final episode of the Bewitched series was simply a rehash of a script the cast had already done in 1965 called “Speak the Truth.” In the episode, Endora grows suspicious of her daughter’s husband, the mortal Darrin, and casts a spell to find out if he really does love her. Turns out he did…
32. Another Season?
Despite the decline in ratings Bewitched was actually picked up for a ninth season. So what happened to it? Well, it never actually got made. Despite the fact that Elizabeth Montgomery was long over playing the TV witch, relationships got in the way.
Elizabeth Montgomery was married to producer and director of Bewitched, William Asher. The couple had three children together but by the end of the eighth season things were getting difficult between them and it was decided not to keep working together.
33. Big In Japan
After eight years portraying on Bewitched, you would think that the very last thing Elizabeth Montgomery would want to do would be to portray Samantha once again. But that is exactly what she did, only she didn’t do it in the US.
From 1980 to 1983 Samantha made a surprise comeback in Japan. Actress Elizabeth Montgomery went overseas to return to her classic role of Samantha, complete with nose-twitching action, for a series of Japanese commercials advertising chocolate cookies. Now that sounds magically delicious.
34. Getting A Reboot?
For years now rumors have been swirling around about the possibility of a Bewitched reboot. In fact, in 2011, CBS ordered Marc Lawrence to write a script for a possible reboot, then in 2014 Sony Pictures Television made a big announcement.
Sony sold a pilot of the rebooted Bewitched to NBC in 2014 and it is currently in the works and being shopped around. The new series is apparently about Tabitha’s daughter, Daphne, and her quest to find love without using magic.
35. Bewitched Movie
A movie remake of the series, starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, came out in 2005 and had some disappointing results. The movie made a lackluster showing at the box office and received overwhelmingly negative reviews from a sea of critics.
The film centered around Ferrell playing an out of work actor discovering that his co-star in a Bewitched remake was actually a witch. Kind of like Bewitched-ception. The movie won Kidman and Ferrell a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple.
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