1. Young Elizabeth Montgomery (1955)
American actress Elizabeth Montgomery, back in the mid-fifties.
Miss Montgomery is in her fourth year as star of Bewitched, one of TV’s most successful comedies.
Unlike other television stars, Miss Montgomery has not used her show as a springboard for an expected jump in some other, more promising direction. She has not appeared on other shows, has not tried to get her own special, and has not tried to Squeeze in a movie or two during her Spring vacation.
“I’m completely satisfied doing one show,” she says. “I thoroughly enjoy Bewitched.” And even though she has been playing the role of Samantha the witch since 1964 she says she still looks forward to going to work each morning.
“One of my pet peeves is people in TV series who get bored with their shows. They should be thankful for success. The performers who complain are ungrateful, unprofessional, and childish.”
What separates Miss Montgomery from people is not only a strong sense of duty and appreciation, but also a lack of ambition to be the biggest star in Hollywood.
“I never wanted to be Miss Movie Star. There was never any particular thing I wanted to do. I just enjoy acting as acting. Period.
“When I broke into the business I was living at home. I knew I wasn’t going to starve, so I didn’t have to go chasing after jobs. A lot of performers who do wind up making some terrible mistakes.
“Ambition can be a dangerous thing. When you finally reach your goal, you often realize it wasn’t worth the cost, especially when you notice the bodies you’ve strewn in your path.”
2. Father & daughter (1955)
American actor Robert Montgomery (1904-1981) dines with his daughter, actress Elizabeth Montgomery, at the Stork Club in New York City, circa 1955.
Actor Robert Montgomery
Here’s the father of Elizabeth Montgomery (early 1930s), a year or two before the actress was born
Elizabeth Montgomery: She couldn’t be happier (1968)
By Jack Major in the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) January 21, 1968
Someday, they’ll make a different kind of movie about a girl who wants to be an actress.
Nowhere in this film will we see the girl pushing drinks at The Purple Pussycat. There’ll be no slick-looking customer who says, “What’s a nice kid like you doing in a place like this? Stick with me, baby, and you’ll be a star.”
Nowhere in this film will the girl be seduced by a producer on the promise of a big part in his next movie.
Nowhere in this film will the girl plot against an already-famous actress in hopes of taking her place in an important role.
Nowhere in this film will the girl become the biggest star in all the world.
Nowhere in this film will the girl betray every person who befriended her along the way.
And nowhere in this film will the girl hit the skids and land in the gutter clutching a bottle of cheap wine and a greasy punk who looks like Ray Danton.
No, this film will be the story of a girl with good looks and good talent who makes a fair living at acting for several years and then becomes popular, but not earth-shakingly famous, through a television series.
And Elizabeth Montgomery would be a good choice to star in such a film.
Elizabeth made her acting debut on a television show with her father, Robert Montgomery. The casting was a surprise. Her father didn’t know she was in the show until rehearsals started.
From there she went to Broadway and a 1953 flop called “Late Love.” Her movie debut came two years later in “The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell.”
Her career through the late 1950s and early ’60s was smooth, but hardly sensational. One thing that may have held her back for a while was her refusal to change herself.
“I remember one of my first trips to a movie studio to talk about make-up and wardrobe. They discussed me like I was a prop. They didn’t like my hair, my funny eyebrows, or my chipped tooth.
“But I wouldn’t let them do anything to me. I even refused to wear caps … I didn’t want a mouth full of Chiclets.”
4. Elizabeth Montgomery (1960s)
Posed portrait of American actress Elizabeth Montgomery in the 1960s
After two unsuccessful marriages — one to TV director Frederick Camman, the other to actor Gig Young — she was wed again in 1963 to William Asher.
A few months later, they began work on Bewitched, he as the producer, she as the star.
Production that first season was delayed by the Asher’s first baby, William Jr., who arrived in the Summer of 1964 just when filming was about to start. (A second son, Robert, was born a year later.)
“Everyone was worried that first season. I had the baby, and two weeks later began filming. There was pressure on us immediately to turn out shows as quickly as possible.
“I learned you have to resist this pressure. They — the money people — want us to finish each show in three days. But we can’t. Each year we’re lucky to do four shows in three days. The others take a day or two longer.
“I insist on this extra time, and so does Bill. We don’t like to cheat the people who watch our show.”
5. “I promise” (1960s)
American actor Elizabeth Montgomery makes a pledge.
Lack of time is another reason Elizabeth doesn’t do outside shows. “Oh, I have some spare time, but I want to spend that with my family. I could do talk shows, but I avoid them. I just can’t sit there and exchange one-liners with a clever host. Then, too, they always want you to do something else, to explore some unusual talent.
“But I have no unusual talent. Acting is all I do. And for me, that’s enough.”
There’s double trouble on Bewitched in February when Elizabeth Montgomery plays two roles. She’ll be Samantha, as usual, and also a look-alike cousin named Serena who gets involved in a hippie love-in.
6. Liz Montgomery in a glamorous pose (1963)
7. Bewitched cast (1965)
Elizabeth Montgomery (1933-1995) as Samantha Stephens and Dick York (1928-1992) as Darrin Stephens in the television series ‘Bewitched‘, circa 1965.
8. As Sam’s hippie cousin, Serena (1965)
‘Hippie, Hippie, Hooray’ – Season Four – 2/1/68, Serena’s (Elizabeth Montgomery) mistaken identity and her arrest at a park love-in threatened an important account for Darrin.
9. At a press conference in New York (1966)
Actress Elizabeth Montgomery at a press conference on February 20, 1966 in New York, New York.
10. Emmy Awards (1966)
22nd May 1966: Headshot of actor Elizabeth Montgomery smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin, Emmy Awards, Hollywood, California.
11. At home (1966)
Actress Elizabeth Montgomery poses for a portrait at her home in Los Angeles, California in 1966.
12. Elizabeth at home (1966)
Actress Elizabeth Montgomery poses for a portrait at her home in Los Angeles, California in 1966.
13. At home in the yard (1966)
Actress Elizabeth Montgomery attends to her garden in 1966 in Los Angeles, California
14. Bewitched TV show cast (1966)
26th October 1966: Some of the cast of the hit TV show ‘Bewitched’, (from left) Elizabeth Montgomery, Agnes Moorhead (1906-1974) and Dick York (1928-1992).
15. Elizabeth Montgomery & the Bewitched cast (1966)
Dick York as Darrin Stephens, George Tobias as Abner Kravitz, Sandra Gould as Gladys Kravitz, Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens and Erin or Diane Murphy as Tabitha Stephens in the television series ‘Bewitched’, circa 1966
16. Elizabeth Montgomery (1968)
Actress poses for a portrait circa 1968 in Los Angeles, California
17. Portrait in Los Angeles (1968)
Actress poses for a portrait circa 1968 in Los Angeles, California.
Liz Montgomery: “Even in real life, everything around her seems bewitched” (1971)
By Peer J. Oppenheimer in the Central New Jersey Home (New Brunswick) September 12, 1971
Liz Montgomery sat before me engulfed in a high-backed chair, slender legs tucked under her, dressed in clinging white slack and blouse, her shoulder-length blonde hair caught with chartreuse yarn into a ponytail over each ear, eyes sparkling, turned-up nose sunburned — looking years younger than the last time I saw her!
I kept thinking she couldn’t possibly be the mortal who’s been married to William Asher (who looks more like a boxer than the producer-director of her show) for eight years, has two stepchildren and three children of her own, and bounces off to work for a grueling eight-to-eight day, year in and year out.
It had been four years since I talked to her, eight years since she began playing the unearthly Samantha on ABC-TV’s “Bewitched.” Even in real life, everything around her seems bewitched.
For instance, as I climbed the uneven steps to her multi-level brick and wood house (straight out of Grimm’s fairy tales) I was stopped momentarily by a sign warning “Beware: Chipmunk Crossing.” As I reached for the door knocker — a grinning fox’s head — I stumbled over a four-inch brass quail and its companion, the biggest, fattest, greenest glazed ceramic toad I have ever seen.
The first live animal to be introduced was Fran, the jealous Siamese cat. Liz says Fran probably “did away” with her brother Moose, “who was probably the meanest cat alive. I am sure Fran put out a contract on him,” Liz informed me, “because that cat absolutely adored me. It was really kinda spooky.”
Liz also has a way with dogs. “One day I bought a beagle for the housekeeper’s daughter, but when Bill came home and saw it, he said, ‘Too bad for the housekeeper’s daughter,’ and kept it. We named him Boozer. The next day I had to go buy his sister.
“Then Boozer spotted the Afghan who lives up the hill and fell madly in love. What a romance! We ended up buying her, too. I must say, Boozer the beagle and Llama the afghan did make a peculiar couple!
“A dog we named Who wandered in one day and never left. I don’t really know what ‘Who’ is — part beagle and part terrier, I think.” Puck, another dog, decided to live with Liz although he belongs to her neighbors, actors Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.
Recently, her father, actor-producer Robert Montgomery, took off on a safari to Africa and asked Liz what she wanted him to bring back. Her request: pictures of animals.
Liz is the kind of person who has to be totally involved — with animals, her work, and of course, her children — Willy, seven; Robert, six; and Rebecca, two. The youngsters are not so sure their mother is just another mortal.
Most of Willy’s friends are in awe of Liz. “I’ve been met by dropping china, gasps and giggles. And a few even ran away,’ Liz said. “But everything goes back to normal as soon as I have to become the disciplinarian and squelch a squabble.”
Once a year, for three months, Liz gets time off from the show. What does she do then? “NOTHING!” she told me.
“Nothing,” I found out, was playing as many as four sets of tennis a day. This requires four male opponents, since women don’t play hard enough to suit her, and one man gets too tired.
Likewise, Liz catches up on all the things she can’t do when she’s working — like going to the dentist and redecorating the house. Also, she relaxes with her paints. She’s an excellent artist who has even illustrated a children’s book.
“I feel it is my obligation to take a vacation when I am given one,” Liz says. “After all, a person has only so much energy, and it should be used to the best advantage. If I come dragging into work after a vacation, it’s not fair to the others on our show. And I’m not a traveler; why should I go someplace when I really want to be at home?”
Liz and her husband enjoy working together constantly, although Liz says, “I don’t really see that much of him. Oh, I know some couples would probably have killed each other by now. But we like working together!
“Besides, when we get home, Bill stops being the director and starts being my husband. But he’s still boss. I couldn’t ask for a nicer man. In fact, I couldn’t ask for a nicer life!”
22. Elizabeth Montgomery (1968)
23. Elizabeth Montgomery (1969)
Promotional portrait of American television actress Elizabeth Montgomery (1933 – 1995) in ‘Bewitched,’ 1969. She wears a pendant and looks across her shoulder.
24. Elizabeth in LA (1970)
The actress poses for a portrait circa 1970 in Los Angeles, California.
25. Elizabeth in LA (1972)
Actress poses for a portrait circa 1972 in Los Angeles, California.