Elizabeth Montgomery
Montgomery circa 1967
Born
Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery

(1933-04-15)April 15, 1933[1]
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedMay 18, 1995(1995-05-18) (aged 62)[2]
Alma materAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts
OccupationActress
Years active1951–1995
Known forSamantha Stephens on Bewitched
Spouses
Frederick Gallatin Cammann
(m. 1954; div. 1955)
(m. 1956; div. 1963)
(m. 1963; div. 1973)
(m. 1993)
Children3
Parents
RelativesMartha-Bryan Allen (aunt)

Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery (April 15, 1933 – May 18, 1995)[2] was an American actress whose career spanned five decades in film, stage, and television. She portrayed the good witch Samantha Stephens on the popular television series Bewitched, which earned her five Primetime Emmy Award nominations and four Golden Globe Award nominations.

The daughter of actor, director and producer Robert Montgomery, she began her career in the 1950s with a role on her father's television series Robert Montgomery Presents, and she won a Theater World Award for her 1956 Broadway debut in the production Late Love. After Bewitched ended in 1972, Montgomery continued her career with roles in many television films, including A Case of Rape (1974) and The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975), as Lizzie Borden. Both performances earned her additional Emmy Award nominations.

Throughout her career, Montgomery was involved in various forms of political activism and charitable work.

Early life

Montgomery was born on April 15, 1933, in Los Angeles, California, to Broadway actress Elizabeth Daniel Bryan Allen and film star Robert Montgomery. Montgomery's mother was a native of Kentucky and her father was a native of New York. She had an elder sister who was born in 1931 and died in infancy, Martha Bryan Montgomery (named after her aunt Martha-Bryan Allen) and a younger brother, Robert B. Montgomery Jr.[3] Montgomery was of Irish and Scottish descent. Her great-grandfather, Archibald Montgomery, was born in Belfast and he immigrated to the United States in 1849. Genealogical research which was conducted after her death revealed that she and Lizzie Borden, acquitted of the murder of her father and stepmother in 1893, were sixth cousins once removed; both of them were descended from 17th-century Massachusetts resident John Luther. Montgomery portrayed Borden in the television film The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975), unaware that Borden was her distant cousin.[3]

After attending the Westlake School for Girls in Holmby Hills, California,[4] Montgomery graduated from the Spence School in New York City. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan for three years.[5]

Career

1951–1963: Early work

Montgomery made her television debut in her father's series Robert Montgomery Presents and on later occasions, she appeared as a member of his "summer stock" company of performers. In October 1953, Montgomery made her Broadway debut, starring in Late Love,[6] for which she won a Theater World Award for her performance.[5] She then made her film debut in Otto Preminger's The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955). Montgomery returned to Broadway in 1956, appearing in The Loud Red Patrick.[6]

Montgomery's early career consisted of starring roles and appearances in live television dramas and series, such as Studio One, Kraft Television Theater, Johnny Staccato, Burke's Law, The Twilight Zone, The Eleventh Hour, Wagon Train, Boris Karloff's Thriller, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.[5] Montgomery was nominated at the 13th Primetime Emmy Awards for her portrayal of southern nightclub performer Rusty Heller in a 1960 episode of The Untouchables, playing opposite David White, who later portrayed Larry Tate on Bewitched.[7] She played the part of Rose Cornelius in the Rawhide episode "Incident at El Crucero" (1963).[8]

Montgomery was featured in a role as a socialite who falls for a gangster (Henry Silva) in Johnny Cool (1963), directed by William Asher, and the film comedy Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (also 1963), with Dean Martin and Carol Burnett, this time directed by Daniel Mann. After her appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 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 film Marnie (1964), but Montgomery was unavailable.[9]

1964–1972: Bewitched

Main article: Bewitched

Bewitched co-stars Dick York, Agnes Moorehead, and Montgomery

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

Bewitched became a ratings success (it was, at the time, the highest-rated series ever for the network).[10] The series aired for eight seasons, from 1964 to 1972, and Montgomery received five Emmy[11] and four Golden Globe nominations for her role on Bewitched. Despite low ratings late in the series run, it was renewed for a ninth season to run from fall of 1972. However, Montgomery's marriage to Bewitched director William Asher was failing and the couple had separated by the end of the eighth season.[citation needed]

This situation caused severe friction in their professional relationship and it also ended any possibility of another season.[citation needed] As a consolation to ABC, Montgomery and Asher (under their company name Ashmont, which produced Bewitched) offered a half-hour sitcom, The Paul Lynde Show, to the network for the 1972–1973 season. Lynde's series only lasted one year.

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). The film was directed by 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.

1973–1995: Later career

Montgomery returned to Samantha-like twitching of her nose and on-screen magic in a series of Japanese television commercials (1980–1983) for "Mother" chocolate biscuits and cookies which were produced by the 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.

Montgomery (right) and Katherine Helmond as Lizzie and Emma Borden, February 1975

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), and the accused (but acquitted) murderer Lizzie Borden in William Bast's The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975). After the actress died, Rhonda McClure, a genealogist, discovered that Montgomery and Borden were distant cousins.[3]

Montgomery made many appearances on the game show Password. Allen Ludden, the show's longtime host, called her the "Queen of Password".[12] Montgomery later played a pioneer woman facing hardship in 1820s Ohio in the miniseries The Awakening Land (1978), for which she earned her ninth Emmy nomination.

In A Killing Affair (1977), Montgomery played the role of a police detective who has an affair with her married partner, played by O. J. Simpson. In the television film Amos (1985), she played a rare villainous role, as a vicious nurse who abuses her wards in a home for senior citizens. The wards are played by Kirk Douglas and Dorothy McGuire, among others. In 1989, Montgomery returned to Broadway one last time in a production of Love Letters, opposite Robert Foxworth.[6] She played one of her last roles 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 series was the highly rated Edna Buchanan detective series – the second and final film of the series received its first airing on May 9, 1995,[13] only nine days before Montgomery died.

Personal life

In 1954, Montgomery married New York City socialite Frederick Gallatin Cammann;[14] the couple divorced less than a year later. She was married to Academy Award winning actor Gig Young from 1956 to 1963 and then she was married to director-producer William Asher from 1963 until their divorce in 1973.[14] They had three children: William, Robert and Rebecca. The latter two pregnancies were incorporated into Bewitched as Samantha's pregnancies. During the eighth year of the show, Montgomery fell in love with director Richard Michaels. Their resulting affair led to the end of both of their marriages, as well as the end of the series. They moved in together when shooting ended in 1972; the relationship lasted two and a half years. On January 28, 1993, she married actor Robert Foxworth, after living with him for nearly twenty years. They remained married until her death in 1995.[2]

According to author Herbie J Pilato, Montgomery had an affair with Alexander Godunov while she was living with Foxworth but was not yet married to him.[15][16] Godunov was found dead on May 18, 1995, the day Montgomery died,[17] but it is believed that he died several days before Montgomery.[18]

Throughout the run of Bewitched, many references to Patterson, New York, were made on the series. The Putnam County town was the site of the Montgomery homestead, and it was also the place where she spent her childhood summers. In later years, her mother lived in the family farmhouse on Cushman Road.[19]

Political activism

Montgomery was personally devoted to liberal political causes, and she lent her name, along with a large amount of her time, money, and energy, to a wide variety of charitable and political causes.[20] She was a champion of women's rights, AIDS activism, and gay rights.[21] She was also an ardent critic of the Vietnam War, and in later years, she was an active advocate for AIDS research and outreach to the disabled community.[20] Professionally, she lent her voice as the narrator of two political documentaries which were critical of U.S. foreign policy, Cover Up: Behind the Iran Contra Affair (1988) and its Academy Award-winning sequel The Panama Deception (1992).[22] In June 1992, Montgomery and Dick Sargent, her former Bewitched co-star as well as her good friend, were grand marshals at the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade.[11]

Charitable work

During the last year of her life, Montgomery volunteered at the Los Angeles Unit of Learning Ally, a nonprofit organization which records educational audio books for disabled people.[23] In 1994, Montgomery produced radio and television public-service announcements for Learning Ally's Los Angeles unit. The following January, Montgomery recorded the 1952 edition of When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne.

On June 3, 1995, sixteen days after her death, Learning Ally's Los Angeles unit dedicated its 1995 Record-A-Thon to Montgomery. Twenty-one other celebrities lent their talents to a recorded version of Chicken Soup for the Soul, which was dedicated to her memory.[24]

Illness and death

Montgomery suffered from colon cancer.[25] She ignored the influenza-like symptoms during the filming of Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan, which she finished filming in late March 1995. Due to the late diagnosis, the cancer metastasized from her colon to her liver.[26]

With no hope of recovery and unwilling to die in a hospital, Montgomery chose to return to her Beverly Hills home that she shared[11] with Foxworth. She died on the morning of May 18, 1995, at the age of 62, surrounded by Foxworth and her three children from her previous marriage to William Asher.[27] Her body was cremated.[28]

On June 18, 1995, one month after her death, a memorial service was held at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills. Herbie Hancock played music, Amanda McBroom sang, and Dominick Dunne spoke about the early years of their friendship when both of them lived in New York City, while Foxworth read many of the sympathy cards sent by fans. Other speakers included her nurse, her brother, her daughter, and her stepson.[29]

Montgomery had kept her parents' home in Patterson, Putnam County, New York. Roughly three years after her death, the estate was sold and became a part of Wonder Lake State Park.[30]

Legacy

Bronze statue of Montgomery as Samantha Stephens (Salem, Massachusetts)

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1955 The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
1958 Bitter Heritage Mary Brecker Television film
1960 Bells Are Ringing Girl reading book Uncredited
1960 The Untouchables "The Rusty Heller Story" Rusty Heller Television film - Season 2 Episode 1
1961 The Spiral Staircase Helen Warren Television film
1963 Boston Terrier Millie Curtain
Johnny Cool Darien "Dare" Guinness
Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? Melissa Morris
1964 Bikini Beach Lady Bug Voice, uncredited
1965 How to Stuff a Wild Bikini Bwana's Daughter, The Witches Witch Uncredited
1972 The Victim Kate Wainwright Television film
1973 Mrs. Sundance Etta Place
1974 A Case of Rape Ellen Harrod Television film
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Drama Series
1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden Lizzie Borden Television film
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy
1976 Dark Victory Katherine Merrill Television film
1977 A Killing Affair Vikki Eaton Television film
1978 The Awakening Land Sayward Luckett Wheeler Miniseries
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series
1979 Jennifer: A Woman's Story Jennifer Prince Television film
Act of Violence Catherine McSweeney
1980 Belle Starr Belle Starr
1981 When the Circus Came to Town Mary Flynn
1982 The Rules of Marriage Joan Hagen
1983 Missing Pieces Sara Scott
1984 Second Sight: A Love Story Alaxandra McKay
1985 Amos Daisy Daws
Between the Darkness and the Dawn Abigail Foster
1988 Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair Narrator Documentary film
1990 Face to Face Dr. Diana Firestone Television film
1991 Sins of the Mother Ruth Coe Television film
1992 With Murder in Mind Gayle Wolfer Television film
The Panama Deception Narrator Documentary film
1993 Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story Blanche Taylor Moore Television film
1994 The Corpse Had a Familiar Face Edna Buchanan
1995 Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan Edna Buchanan

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"
Climax! Betsy Episode: "The Shadow of Evil"
1958 Playhouse 90 Mary Brecker Episode: "Bitter Heritage"
Suspicion Ellen Episode: "The Velvet Vault"
DuPont Show of the Month Miss Kelly Episode: "Harvey"
Cimmarron City Ellen Wilson Episode: "Hired Hand"
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Karen Adams Season 4 Episode 7: "Man with a Problem"
1959 The Loretta Young Show Millie Episode: "Marriage Crisis"
The Third Man Lorraine Episode: "A Man Take a Trip"
Riverboat Abigail Carruthers Episode: "The Barrier"
Johnny Staccato Fay Linn Episode: "Tempted"
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"
The Untouchables Rusty Heller Episode: "The Rusty Heller Story"
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
1961 The Twilight Zone The Woman Episode: "Two"
Thriller Rosamond "Ros" Denham Episode: "Masquerade"
Frontier Circus Karina Andrews Episode: "Karina"
1962 Checkmate Vicki Page Episode: "The Star System"
Alcoa Premiere Iris Hecate Episode: "Mr. Lucifer"
1963 Saints and Sinners Eadie Donelli Episode: "The Homecoming Bit"
Rawhide Rose Cornelius Episode: "Incident at El Crucero"
77 Sunset Strip Charlotte Delaville Episode: "White Lie"
The Eleventh Hour Polly Saunders Episode: "The Bronze Locust"
1963–1964 Burke's Law Various roles 2 episodes
1964–1972 Bewitched Samantha Stephens (and Serena) 254 episodes
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Comedy Series (1966-1970)
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star (Female) (1965, 1967 & 1969)
1965 The Flintstones Samantha Stephens Voice, episode: "Samantha"
1965–1975 Password Herself 88 episodes

Game Show Participant / Celebrity Guest Star

1968 The Carol Burnett Show Herself In the audience with William Asher
1979 Password Plus Game Show Participant / Celebrity Guest Star
1995 Batman: The Animated Series Barmaid Voice, episode: "Showdown" (posthumously released)

Stage credits

Year Title Role Notes
1953–1954 Late Love Janet Colby Theater World Award for Best Actress
1956 The Loud Red Patrick Maggie Flannigan
1974 28th Tony Awards Herself
1989–1990 Love Letters Melissa Gardner

Narration work

Television coverage

References

  1. ^ "Bewitched Photo: Elizabeth Montgomery 's(Samantha) Death Certificate".
  2. ^ a b c Saxon, Wolfgang (May 19, 1995). "Elizabeth Montgomery, 62, Star of the TV Comedy 'Bewitched'". The New York Times. New York. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Pylant, James (2004). "The Bewitching Family Tree of Elizabeth Montgomery". Genealogy Magazine. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Rhonda R. McClure. Finding Your Famous (& Infamous) Ancestors. (Cincinnati: Betterway Books: 2003), pp. 14–16.
  4. ^ Pilato (2012), p. 49.
  5. ^ a b c "Elizabeth Montgomery Biography". The Biography Channel. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "Elizabeth Montgomery Broadway Theatre Credits". Playbill Vault. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  7. ^ R. E. Lee. "The Rusty Heller Story". Bob's Bewitching Daughter. Archived from the original on February 1, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  8. ^ Pilato (2013), p. 32.
  9. ^ Moral (2013), p. 31
  10. ^ Mansour, p. 38.
  11. ^ a b c Gliatto, Tom (June 5, 1996). "That Magic Feeling". People. Archived from the original on November 4, 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  12. ^ Pilato (2013), p. 95.
  13. ^ Cotter, p. 18.
  14. ^ a b Hayward, Anthony (May 19, 1995). "OBITUARY:Elizabeth Montgomery". The Independent. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  15. ^ "Tumultuous life of 'Bewitched' star Elizabeth Montgomery's revealed".
  16. ^ "Tell-All Book Reveals 'Bewitched' Star's Troubled Personal Life". November 3, 2017.
  17. ^ Al Hunter (September 18, 2014). "The Curse of "Bewitched" Part 2". The Weekly View.
  18. ^ Levitt, Shelley (June 5, 1995). "Fallen from Grace". People. Archived from the original on September 19, 2015. He had probably been dead for at least a couple of days before his body was discovered.
  19. ^ "Patterson Through the Years". Historic Patterson. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  20. ^ a b Pilato (2012), pp. 320–321.
  21. ^ Folkart, Burt A. (May 19, 1995). "Elizabeth Montgomery Dies of Cancer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  22. ^ Pilato (2013), p. 85.
  23. ^ "Bewitched: Astonishing Facts Revealed About The Cast and Crew". trendchaser. August 30, 2016. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  24. ^ Pilato, Herbie J. (October 7, 2013). The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide to Her Magical Performances. Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 9781589798250.
  25. ^ Folkart, Burt A. (May 19, 1995). "Elizabeth Montgomery Dies of Cancer". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021.
  26. ^ "The Death of Elizabeth Montgomery". Archived from the original on October 30, 2021 – via YouTube.
  27. ^ Folkart, Burt A. (May 19, 1995). "Elizabeth Montgomery Dies of Cancer". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. ProQuest 293213089. Elizabeth Montgomery, the mischievous witch with the nasal twitch who brought her enchanting whimsy into America's living rooms for eight years, died Thursday morning. The star of "Bewitched," who later forsook her single-dimensional character and became one of the best known and diverse actors in made-for-TV movies, was 57, according to her family, but several film anthologies list her birth year as 1933. With her when she died at home in Beverly Hills was her husband, actor Robert Foxworth, and her three children from a previous marriage.
  28. ^ Jarvis, Everett (1998). Final Curtain : Deaths of Noted Movie and Television Personalities, 1912-1998. Sedcaucus, NJ: Coral Publishing Group. p. 374. ISBN 0-8065-2058-2.
  29. ^ Pilato (2012), p. xxv.
  30. ^ Risinit, Michael (January 24, 2005). "Leibell's Careers Lead to New Country Home". The Journal News. p. A1. ProQuest 442702798. PATTERSON - Elizabeth Allen Montgomery, the mother of the "Bewitched" television series actress, died at home early on a cool, late-June morning in 1992. [...] Six years after her death, the state bought almost 1,000 acres from her family and created Wonder Lake State Park.
  31. ^ Dulin, Dann. "Witchful Thinking". Aumag.org. A&U Magazine. Archived from the original on December 21, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
  32. ^ "A Bronze Statue Of Elizabeth Montgomery Is Dedicated". bewitched.net. 2005.
  33. ^ "Hollywood star is unveiled posthumously for TV's 'Bewitched' star Elizabeth Montgomery". Associated Press. January 5, 2008. Archived from the original on September 15, 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2015.

Bibliography