Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery (April 15, 1933 – May 18, 1995) was an American film, stage, and television actress whose career spanned five decades. She is best remembered for her leading role as Samantha Stephens on the television series Bewitched.
Montgomery in 1971
Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery
April 15, 1933
|Died||May 18, 1995 (aged 62)|
|Alma mater||American Academy of Dramatic Arts|
|Known for||Samantha Stephens on Bewitched|
Frederick Gallatin Cammann
(m. 1954; div. 1955)
(m. 1956; div. 1963)
(m. 1963; div. 1973)
The daughter of actor Robert Montgomery, she began her career in the 1950s with a role on her father's television series Robert Montgomery Presents, and won a Theater World Award for her 1956 Broadway debut in the production Late Love. In the 1960s, she became known for her role 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, including A Case of Rape (1974), as Ellen Harrod, and The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) in the title role. Both roles earned her additional Emmy Award nominations.
Throughout her career, Montgomery was involved in various forms of political activism and charitable work.
Montgomery was born on April 15, 1933, in Los Angeles, California, to Broadway actress Elizabeth Daniel Bryan Allen (1904–1992) and film star Robert Montgomery (1904–1981). Montgomery's mother was a native of Kentucky and her father was from New York. She had an elder sister, Martha Bryan Montgomery (named after her aunt Martha-Bryan Allen), who died as an infant, and a younger brother, Robert Montgomery Jr. (1936–2000). Montgomery was of Irish and Scottish descent. Her great-grandfather, Archibald Montgomery, was born in Belfast and emigrated to the United States in 1849. Genealogical research conducted after Montgomery died found that Montgomery and Lizzie Borden, acquitted of murder in 1893, were sixth cousins once removed, both descending from 17th-century Massachusetts resident John Luther. Montgomery portrayed Borden in the TV movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975), unaware of their connection.
After attending Westlake School for Girls in Holmby Hills, California, Montgomery graduated from Spence School in New York City. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan for three years.
1951–1963: Early workEdit
Montgomery made her television debut in her father's series Robert Montgomery Presents and later appeared on occasion as a member of his "summer stock" company of performers. In October 1953, Montgomery made her Broadway debut, starring in Late Love, for which she won a Theater World Award for her performance. 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.
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. 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 in Bewitched. She played the part of Rose Cornelius in the Rawhide episode "Incident at El Crucero" (1963).
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 movie Marnie (1964), but Montgomery was unavailable.
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). The series aired for eight seasons, from 1964 to 1972, and Montgomery received five Emmy 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 1972. However, Montgomery's marriage to Bewitched director William Asher was in difficulties and the couple had separated by the end of the eighth season.
This caused severe friction in their professional relationship and ended any possibility of another season. 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 lasted only 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 careerEdit
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), and the accused (but acquitted) murderer Lizzie Borden in William Bast's The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975). Rhonda McClure, a genealogist, discovered after the actress died that Montgomery and Borden were distant cousins.
Montgomery made many appearances on the game show Password. Allen Ludden, the show's longtime host, called her the "Queen of Password". 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 movie 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, among others, Kirk Douglas and Dorothy McGuire. Montgomery returned to Broadway one last time in 1989 in a production of Love Letters, opposite Robert Foxworth. 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, only nine days before Montgomery died.
In 1954, Montgomery married New York City socialite Frederick Gallatin Cammann; the couple divorced less than a year later. She was married to Academy Award-winning actor Gig Young from 1956 to 1963, and then to director-producer William Asher from 1963 until their divorce in 1973. They had three children: William A. Asher (b. 1964), Robert Asher (b. 1965), and Rebecca Asher (b. 1969). The latter two pregnancies were incorporated into Bewitched as Samantha's pregnancies with Tabitha and Adam Stephens. During the eighth year of the show, Elizabeth fell in love with director Richard Michaels. Their resulting affair led to the end of both 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 20 years. They remained married until her death.
Throughout the run of Bewitched, many references to Patterson, New York, were made in the series. The Putnam County town was the site of the Montgomery homestead, and it was also where Elizabeth spent her childhood summers. In later years, her mother lived in the family farmhouse on Cushman Road.
Montgomery was personally devoted to liberal political beliefs, and she lent her name, along with a great deal of time, money, and energy, to a wide variety of charitable and political causes. She had progressive political views and was an outspoken champion of women's rights, AIDS activism, and gay rights. She was 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. Professionally, she lent her voice as narrator to two political documentaries which were critical of US foreign policy, Cover Up: Behind the Iran Contra Affair (1988) and its Academy Award-winning sequel 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.
During the last year of her life, Montgomery was a volunteer for the Los Angeles Unit of Learning Ally, a nonprofit 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 the best-selling book of poetry titled When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne 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 titled Chicken Soup for the Soul, which was also dedicated to her memory.
Illness and deathEdit
For many years, Montgomery had struggled with colon cancer, which she believed she had beaten; however, in early 1995 she was told that the cancer had returned. She had 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. By the time the cancer was diagnosed, it had spread to her liver and 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. Early on the morning of May 18, 1995, Montgomery died at home, eight weeks after her diagnosis. She was 62 years old.
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 widower, Robert Foxworth, who read sympathy cards from fans, her nurse, her brother, her daughter, and her stepson. Her remains were cremated at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
- 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 Bewitched television series, modeled the clothing that was auctioned.
- Wonder Lake State Park in New York has been expanded and fully opened to the public; as of 2015, it contains over eight miles of walking trails on more than 1000 acres of land.
- In June 2005, a bronze statue of Montgomery as Samantha Stephens was erected in Salem, Massachusetts.
- A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was presented in honor of Montgomery's work in television on January 4, 2008. The location of the star is 6533 Hollywood Blvd.
|1955||The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell||Margaret Lansdowne|
|1958||Bitter Heritage||Mary Brecker||Television movie|
|1960||Bells Are Ringing||Girl reading book||Uncredited|
|1961||The Spiral Staircase||Helen Warren||Television movie|
|1963||Boston Terrier||Millie Curtain||Television movie|
|1963||Johnny Cool||Darien "Dare" Guinness|
|1963||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 movie|
|1973||Mrs. Sundance||Etta Place||Television movie|
|1974||A Case of Rape||Ellen Harrod||Television movie|
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Drama Series
|1975||The Legend of Lizzie Borden||Lizzie Borden||Television movie|
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy
|1976||Dark Victory||Katherine Merrill||Television movie|
|1977||A Killing Affair||Vikki Eaton||Television movie|
|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 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|
|1988||Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair||Narrator||Documentary film|
|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|
|1992||The Panama Deception||Narrator||Documentary film|
|1993||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|
|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||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"|
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
|1961||The Twilight Zone||The Woman||Episode: "Two"|
|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||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 (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"|
|1979||Password Plus||Herself||Game Show Participant / Celebrity Guest Star|
|1995||Batman: The Animated Series||Barmaid (voice)||Episode: "Showdown"|
|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|
- In 1998, 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 on February 15, 1999.
- 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.
- Saxon, Wolfgang (May 19, 1995). "Elizabeth Montgomery, 62, Star of the TV Comedy 'Bewitched'". The New York Times. New York: The New York Times Company. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- 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.
- Pilato (2012), p. 49.
- "Elizabeth Montgomery Biography". The Biography Channel. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- "Elizabeth Montgomery Broadway Theatre Credits". Playbill Vault. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
- R. E. Lee. "The Rusty Heller Story". Bob's Bewitching Daughter. Archived from the original on February 1, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
- Pilato (2013), p. 32.
- Moral (2013), p. 31
- Mansour, p. 38.
- Gliatto, Tom (June 5, 1996). "That Magic Feeling". People. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Pilato (2013), p. 95.
- Cotter, p. 18.
- Hayward, Anthony (May 19, 1995). "OBITUARY:Elizabeth Montgomery". The Independent. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
- "Patterson Through the Years". Historic Patterson. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
- Pilato (2012), pp. 320–321.
- Folkart, Burt A. (May 19, 1995). "Elizabeth Montgomery Dies of Cancer". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
- Pilato (2013), p. 85.
- August 30, Television; 2016 (August 30, 2016). "Bewitched: Astonishing Facts Revealed About The Cast and Crew". trendchaser. Retrieved July 9, 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- Pilato, Herbie J. (October 7, 2013). The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide to Her Magical Performances. Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 9781589798250.
- Folkart, Burt A. (May 19, 1995). "Elizabeth Montgomery Dies of Cancer". Los Angeles Times.
- "The Death of Elizabeth Montgomery" – via YouTube.
- "Wonder Lake State Park". NY-NJ Trail Conference. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- Dulin, Dann. "Witchful Thinking". Aumag.org. A&U Magazine. Archived from the original on December 21, 2014. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
- "A Bronze Statue Of Elizabeth Montgomery Is Dedicated". bewitched.net. 2005.
- "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.
- Cotter, Bill (1997). The Wonderful Words of Disney Television: A Complete History. Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-6359-5.
- Moral, Tony Lee (2013). Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-81085-684-4.
- Mansour, David (2005). From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-5118-2.
- Pilato, Herbie J. (2012). Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-589-79749-9.
- Pilato, Herbie J. (2013). The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide to Her Magical Performances. Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58979-825-0.
- Withycombe, E. G. (1977). The Concise Dictionary of English Christian Names. Oxford University Press.
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