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Elizabeth Montgomery

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Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery (April 15, 1933 – May 18, 1995)[1] was an American film and television actress whose career spanned five decades.

The daughter of Robert Montgomery, she began her career in the 1950s with a role on her father's television series Robert Montgomery Presents. In the 1960s, she rose to fame as Samantha Stephens on the ABC sitcom Bewitched. Her work on the series earned her five Primetime Emmy Award nominations and four Golden Globe Award nominations. After Bewitched ended its run in 1972, Montgomery continued her career with roles in numerous television films. In 1974, she portrayed Ellen Harrod in A Case of Rape and Lizzie Borden in the 1975 television film The Legend of Lizzie Borden. Both roles earned her additional Emmy Award nominations.

Montgomery was married four times, most notably to actor Gig Young and producer/director William Asher with whom she had three children. Her fourth and final marriage was to actor Robert Foxworth, with whom she lived for twenty years before marrying in 1993. Montgomery died of colorectal cancer in May 1995, eight weeks after being diagnosed with the disease.

Early lifeEdit

Born in Los Angeles, California, Elizabeth Montgomery was the child of actor Robert Montgomery and his wife, Broadway actress Elizabeth Bryan (Allen). She had an older sister, Martha Bryan Montgomery, who died as an infant (named after her aunt Martha-Bryan Allen) and a brother, Robert Montgomery, Jr. (1936 - 2000).[2] She attended Westlake School For Girls (now Harvard-Westlake School in Holmby Hills).[3] After graduating from Spence School, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts for three years.[4]

CareerEdit

Early yearsEdit

Montgomery made her television debut in her father's series Robert Montgomery Presents (later appearing on occasion as a member of his "summer stock" company of performers), and her film debut in 1955 in The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell.

Her early career consisted of starring vehicles and appearances in live television dramas and series, such as Studio One, Kraft Television Theater, Johnny Staccato, The Twilight Zone, The Eleventh Hour, Boris Karloff's Thriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1960 Montgomery was nominated for an Emmy Award for her portrayal of southern prostitute Rusty Heller in an episode of The Untouchables, playing opposite David White who later portrayed Darrin's boss Larry Tate in Bewitched.[5]

She was featured in a role as a socialite who falls for a gangster (Henry Silva) in Johnny Cool. The same year, with Dean Martin and Carol Burnett, she appeared in the film comedy Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?, directed by Daniel Mann. Alfred Hitchcock had her in mind to play the sister-in-law of Sean Connery, who sees herself as a rival to the troubled heroine in the movie Marnie, but Montgomery was unavailable.

File:Agnes Moorehead Dick York Elizabeth Montgomery Bewitched 1964.JPG
Montgomery with Bewitched co-stars, Dick York and Agnes Moorehead.

BewitchedEdit

Montgomery played the central role of lovable witch Samantha Stephens with Dick York (and later with Dick Sargent) as her husband in the ABC situation comedy Bewitched. Starting in the second season of the series, she also played the role of Samantha's increasingly mischievous, sexy cousin, Serena, under the pseudonym of Pandora Spocks.

The show became a rating success (it was, at the time, the highest rated series ever for the network).[6] The series aired for eight seasons, from 1964 to 1972, and remains popular through syndication and DVD releases. The show had been renewed for a ninth season to run from 1972 to 1973. Montgomery, however, wished to move on and backed out.

In a parody of her Samantha Stephens role, she made a cameo appearance as a witch at the end of the beach party film How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). This was directed by William Asher, her husband at the time. That same year she also provided the voice of Samantha for an episode of the animated series The Flintstones.

Montgomery received five Emmy[7] and four Golden Globe nominations for her role on Bewitched.[8]

After BewitchedEdit

Montgomery returned to Samantha-like twitching of her nose and on-screen magic in a series of Japanese television commercials (1980–83) for "Mother" chocolate biscuits and cookies by confectionery conglomerate Lotte Corp. These Japanese commercials provided a substantial salary for Montgomery while she remained out of sight of non-Japanese fans and the Hollywood industry.

In the United States, Montgomery spent much of her later career pursuing dramatic roles that took her as far away from the good-natured Samantha as possible. Among her later roles were performances that brought her Emmy Award nominations: a rape victim in A Case of Rape (1974); the accused (but later acquitted) murderess Lizzie Borden in William Bast's The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975); and a pioneer woman facing hardship in 1820s Ohio in the mini-series The Awakening Land (1978).

In 1977, Montgomery played a police detective having an interracial affair with her partner, played by O.J. Simpson, in A Killing Affair. She played a rare villainous role in the 1985 television movie Amos, as a vicious nurse in a home for senior citizens who abuses her wards, played by, among others, Kirk Douglas and Dorothy McGuire. One of her last roles was in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series entitled "Showdown," in which she played a barmaid; this was also her final work to be screened, since the episode aired posthumously. Her last television movies were the highly-rated Edna Buchanan detective series - the second and final film of the series received its first airing on May 9, 1995,[9] only nine days before her death.

Personal lifeEdit

Montgomery was first married to New York socialite Frederick Gallatin Cammann in 1954; the marriage lasted for under a year. She was married to actor Gig Young from 1956 to 1963, and then to director-producer William Asher from 1963 until their 1973 divorce. They had three children: William Asher Jr (July 24, 1964), Robert Asher (October 5, 1965) and Rebecca Asher (June 17, 1969). The last two pregnancies were incorporated into Bewitched as Samantha's pregnancies with Tabitha (primarily Erin Murphy, with twin Diane) and Adam Stephens.[10]

On January 28, 1993, she married for a fourth time to actor Robert Foxworth, after living with him for nearly twenty years. She remained married to Foxworth until her death.[11]

Political activismEdit

During Bewitched's run, she was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War. In the late 1980s and early 1990s she narrated a series of political documentaries, including Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair (1988) and the Academy Award winning The Panama Deception (1992).

In June 1992, Montgomery and her former Bewitched co-star Dick Sargent, who had remained good friends, were Grand Marshals at the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade.[7] Montgomery had liberal political views, being an outspoken champion of women's rights and gay rights throughout her life.

Charity workEdit

Throughout the last year of her life, Montgomery was a volunteer for the Los Angeles Unit of Learning Ally, a non-profit organization which records educational books on specially formatted CDs and in downloadable formats for disabled people. In 1994, Montgomery produced several radio and television public service announcements for the organization's Los Angeles Unit. In January 1995, she recorded the 1952 edition of When We Were Very Young for Learning Ally.

After her death, the Los Angeles Unit of Learning Ally dedicated the 1995 Record-A-Thon to Montgomery and secured 21 celebrities to assist in the reading of the book Chicken Soup for the Soul, which was also dedicated to her memory.

Illness and deathEdit

In the spring of 1995, Montgomery was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. She had ignored the flu-like symptoms during the filming of Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan, which she finished filming in late March 1995. By the time the cancer was diagnosed, it was too late for medical intervention. With no hope of recovery and unwilling to die in a hospital, she chose to return to the Beverly Hills home that she shared with Foxworth. On May 18, 1995, Montgomery died at home in the company of her children and husband just eight weeks after her diagnosis.[7] She was 62.

On June 18, 1995, a memorial service was held at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills. Herbie Hancock provided the music, and Dominick Dunne spoke about their early days as friends in New York City. Other speakers included her husband, Robert Foxworth, who read out sympathy cards from fans, her nurse, her brother, her daughter, and her stepson. She was cremated at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

Elizabeth Montgomery had a summer home in Patterson, New York, in Putnam County. Following her death, the 800-acre estate was sold to New York State and became Wonder Lake State Park.

LegacyEdit

  • On April 19, 1998, an auction and sale of Montgomery's clothing was held by her family to benefit the AIDS Healthcare Foundation of Los Angeles. Erin Murphy, who played Tabitha on the series, modeled the clothing that was auctioned.[12]
  • In June 2005, a statue of Montgomery as Samantha Stephens was erected in Salem, Massachusetts.[13]
  • A star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame was presented in honor of Montgomery's work in television on January 4, 2008.[14] The location of the star is 6533 Hollywood Blvd.

FilmographyEdit

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1955 The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell Margaret Lansdowne
1960 Bells Are Ringing Girl reading book Uncredited
1963 Johnny Cool Darien "Dare" Guinness
1963 Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? Mellisa Morris
1964 Bikini Beach Lady Bug (Voice) Uncredited
1965 How to Stuff a Wild Bikini Bwana's Daughter, The Witches Witch Uncredited
1988 Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair Narrator Documentary film
1992 The Panama Deception Narrator Documentary film
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1951–1956 Robert Montgomery Presents Various roles 30 episodes
1953–1954 Armstrong Circle Theatre Ellen Craig 2 episodes
1954–1957 Kraft Television Theatre Various roles 7 episodes
1955-1956 Appointment with Adventure 2 episodes
1955–1958 Studio One Various roles 3 episodes
1956 Warner Bros. Presents Laura Woodruff Episode: "Siege"
1956 Climax! Betsy Episode: "The Shadow of Evil"
1958 Playhouse 90 Mary Brecker Episode: "Bitter Heritage"
1958 Suspicion Ellen Episode: "The Velvet Vault"
1958 Bitter Heritage Mary Brecker Television movie
1958 DuPont Show of the Month Miss Kelly Episode: "Harvey"
1958 Cimmarron City Ellen Wilson Episode: "Hired Hand"
1958 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Karen Episode: "Man with a Problem"
1959 The Loretta Young Show Millie Episode: "Marriage Crisis"
1959 The Third Man Lorraine Episode: "A Man Take a Trip"
1959 Riverboat Abigail Carruthers Episode: "The Barrier"
1959 Johnny Staccato Fay Linn Episode: "Tempted"
1959 Wagon Train Julie Crail Episode: "The Vittorio Bottecelli Story"
1960 The Tab Hunter Show Hilary Fairfield Episode: "For Money or Love"
1960 One Step Beyond Lillie Clarke Episode: "The Death Waltz"
1960 The Untouchables Rusty Heller Episode: "The Rusty Heller Story"
1961 The Twilight Zone The Woman Episode: "Two"
1961 The Spiral Staircase Helen Warren Television movie
1961 Thriller Rosamond "Ros" Denham Episode: "Masquerade"
1961 Frontier Circus Karina Andrews Episode: "Karina"
1962 Checkmate Vicki Page Episode: "The Star System"
1962 Alcoa Premiere Iris Hecate Episode: "Mr. Lucifer"
1963 Saints and Sinners Eadie Donelli Episode: "The Homecoming Bit"
1963 Boston Terrier Millie Curtain Television movie
1963 Rawhide Rose Cornelius Episode: "Incident at El Crucero"
1963 77 Sunset Strip Charlotte Delaville Episode: "White Lie"
1963 The Eleventh Hour Polly Saunders Episode: "The Bronze Locust"
1963–1964 Burke's Law Various roles 2 episodes
1964–1972 Bewitched Samantha Stephens 254 episodes
1965 The Flintstones Samantha Stephens (Voice) Episode: "Samantha"
1972 The Victim Kate Wainwright Television movie
1973 Mrs. Sundance Etta Place Television movie
1974 A Case of Rape Ellen Harrod Television movie
1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden Lizzie Borden Television movie
1976 Dark Victory Katherine Merrill Television movie
1977 A Killing Affair Vikki Eaton Television movie
1978 The Awakening Land Sayward Luckett Wheeler Miniseries
1979 Jennifer: A Woman's Story Jennifer Prince Television movie
1979 Act of Violence Catherine McSweeney Television movie
1980 Belle Starr Belle Starr Television movie
1981 When the Circus Came to Town Mary Flynn Television movie
1982 The Rules of Marriage Joan Hagen Television movie
1983 Missing Pieces Sara Scott Television movie
1984 Second Sight: A Love Story Alaxandra McKay Television movie
1985 Amos Daisy Daws Television movie
1985 Between the Darkness and the Dawn Abigail Foster Television movie
1990 Face to Face Dr. Diana Firestone Television movie
1991 Sins of the Mother Ruth Coe Television movie
1992 With Murder in Mind Gayle Wolfer Television movie
1993 The Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story Blanche Taylor Moore Television movie
1994 The Corpse Had a Familiar Face Edna Buchanan Television movie
1995 Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan Edna Buchanan Television movie
1995 Batman: The Animated Series Barmaid (Voice) Episode: "Showdown"

Awards and honorsEdit

Year Award Category Title of work Result
1961 Emmy Award Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role The Untouchables Nominated
1966 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched Nominated
1967 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched Nominated
1968 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched Nominated
1969 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched Nominated
1970 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched Nominated
1974 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress - Drama Series A Case of Rape Nominated
1975 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy The Legend of Lizzie Borden Nominated
1978 Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series The Awakening Land Nominated
1965 Golden Globe Award Best TV Star (Female) Bewitched Nominated
1967 Golden Globe Award Best TV Star (Female) Bewitched Nominated
1969 Golden Globe Award Best TV Star (Female) Bewitched Nominated
1995 Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Award Lucy Award In recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television.[15] Recipient posthumously

AudioEdit

  • Craven Street: Ben Franklin in London, a five-part radio drama (1993, narrator)
  • Beauty's Punishment (1994, narrator)
  • Beauty's Release (1994, narrator)
  • Two audio books in which Montgomery narrates the work of Anne Rice (writing as A.N. Roquelaure) are available Template:As of.

In popular cultureEdit

  • In 1999 the E! cable channel produced a documentary for its E! The True Hollywood Story series entitled "Bewitched: The E! True Hollywood Story." The documentary first aired on E! on August 22, 1999.
  • Also in 1999, the A&E Television Network produced a documentary for its Biography television series about the life and career of Elizabeth Montgomery. The documentary first aired on A&E in 2000.
  • On November 5, 2012, a biography of Elizabeth Montgomery entitled Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life & Career of Elizabeth Montgomery by Herbie J. Pilato was published.
  • On October 31, 2013, Herbie J. Pilato will publish an encyclopedia of Elizabeth Montgomery's works with the title The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide to Her Magical Performances.



ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

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