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
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||May 18, 1995 (aged 62)|
|Resting place||Cremated at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary, Los Angeles|
|Education||Westlake School For Girls|
|Alma mater||American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York|
|Known for||Samantha Stephens on Bewitched|
Frederick Gallatin Cammann
(m. 1954; div. 1955)
(m. 1956; div. 1963)
(m. 1963; div. 1973)
Robert Foxworth (m. 1993)
Elizabeth Bryan Allen
|Relatives||Martha-Bryan Allen (maternal aunt)|
|Awards||TV Land Superlatively Supernatural Award|
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. She has been cited as one of the earliest celebrities to support gay rights and advocate for AIDS patients, volunteering with the AIDS Project Los Angeles and amfAR at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Montgomery was born on April 15, 1933, in Los Angeles, California, to Broadway actress Elizabeth Daniel Bryan (née 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's death revealed that Montgomery and accused 19th-century murderer Lizzie Borden were sixth cousins once removed, both descending from 17th-century Massachusetts resident John Luther. Montgomery had played Borden, not knowing of their real-life relationship.
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. In 1960, Montgomery was nominated for an Emmy Award for her portrayal of southern nightclub performer Rusty Heller in an episode of The Untouchables, playing opposite David White, who later portrayed Darrin's boss Larry Tate on Bewitched. She played the part of Rose Cornelius in the Rawhide episode "Incident at El Crucero" (1963).
In 1963, Montgomery was featured in a role as a socialite who falls for a gangster (Henry Silva) in Johnny Cool, directed by William Asher, and the film comedy Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?, 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 despite low ratings late in the series run, it was renewed for a ninth season to run from 1972 to 1973. However, Montgomery's marriage to Bewitched director William Asher was in trouble 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.
The show added to the increasing popularity of the name Samantha. While its use was relatively rare until 1958, it has remained consistently popular since 1965 due chiefly to Montgomery's character.
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 later acquitted) murderer Lizzie Borden in William Bast's The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975). Rhonda McClure, the genealogist who documented the Montgomery–Borden connection after Montgomery's death which revealed that Montgomery was Borden's distant cousin, said "I wonder how Elizabeth would have felt if she knew she was playing her own cousin."
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 her first husband, 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 2 1⁄2 years. On January 28, 1993, she married for a fourth time to actor Robert Foxworth, after living with him for nearly 20 years. She remained married to Foxworth 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. Montgomery was also pro-choice throughout her life. 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 critical of US foreign policy, Cover Up: 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.
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. In the spring of 1995, however, 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 husband, 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?||Mellisa 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"|
|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|
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 Awards||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.||Awarded posthumously|
In popular cultureEdit
- 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.
- Gliatto, Tom (June 5, 1996). "That Magic Feeling". People. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Pylant, James (2004). "The Bewitching Family Tree of Elizabeth Montgomery". Genealogy Magazine. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
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 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
- Pilato (2013), p. 32.
- Moral (2013), p. 31
- Mansour, p. 38.
- Withycombe, p. X.[page needed]
- 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.
- "The Death of Elizabeth Montgomery" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZhmqFzCSg0
- "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.
- "The Crystal + Lucy Awards". Womeninfilm.org. Women in Film Los Angeles. 2015. 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 1-589-79749-3.
- 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.