Twin Biographies of “Bewitched” Star Commemorate 25th Anniversary of Her Death
“Twitch Upon a Star” and “The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery”
May 18th commemorates the 25th Anniversary of the death of Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery.
I was honored to have interviewed and befriended the beloved, multi-Emmy-nominated actress a few years before she succumbed to colon cancer in 1995. She granted me exclusive interviews, and I went on to write the original companion book to her famed TV sitcom, the first edition of which was titled The Bewitched Book (Dell, 1992), which was eventually revised a few times as Bewitched Forever (Summit, 1996/Tapestry Press, 2004).
And while those books were about her most famous role, I knew that one day, I would write an in-depth, full-length biography of Elizabeth’s entire life and career, an idea that ultimately became twin biographies which explored her life and career in-depth, before, during and after her historic reign as TV’s “twitch-witch” Samantha Stephens.
TWITCH UPON A STAR: THE BEWITCHED LIFE AND CAREER OF ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY, an intimate chronicle [in hardcover and trade paperback] was published in 2012, by Taylor Trade Publishing/Rowman & Littlefield, and one year later, that same publisher released THE ESSENTIAL ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY: A GUIDE TO HER MAGICAL PERFORMANCES, an encyclopedia of her personal and professional life [in trade paperback].
Both books (available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and wherever quality books are sold) are fully-illustrated with color and black-and-white photos, and compelling, straightforward, magical and mesmerizing prose that addresses information such as:
Before, during and after Bewitched, Elizabeth made over 500 appearances on the big and small screens and the stage, including classic episodes of TV’s The Twilight Zone and The Untouchables (the latter on which she played a prostitute — and for which she earned her first of several Emmy nominations); and the ground-breaking 1970s TV-movies, A Case of Rape and The Legend of Lizzie Borden — both of which shocked her fans and infuriated her movie-star father Robert Montgomery.
The majority of her four marriages failed (New York high-roller Fred Cammann, troubled actor Gig Young, Bewitched director William Asher, and actor Robert Foxworth) due in part to the personal vendetta the liberal-minded Elizabeth held against her strict Republican father (who never wanted her to become an actress).
She may have married four times, but was in love only twice (to Asher who she met on the set of Johnny Cool, a feature film that he directed, and in which she starred), and Foxworth, who she met on the set of the TV-movie Mrs. Sundance, in which they co-starred).
Montgomery rebelled against her father’s conservative politics and demanding nature, and never forgave him for divorcing her mother (Broadway actress Elizabeth Allen). It was a daddy-daughter complex that went on to shape every personal and professional relationship she had.
She shunned the advances of Gary Cooper (her co-star in her first feature film The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell), while her second husband Gig Young was infuriated when she charmed Elvis Presley (on the set of Kid Galahad, in which Young and Presley co-starred).
Montgomery was full of controversy, piss, and vinegar but relished in the regular life (like sharing a pizza with the crew of Bewitched — a mainstream delicacy she never experienced growing up in her prestigious family household).
She loved her birth mother, but not so much her step-mom, heiress Elizabeth “Buffy” Harkness (and made sure to give the name “Buffy” to one of Samantha’s “rivals” on Bewitched).
In the final season of Bewitched, where she at times battled with co-star Agnes Moorehead, Montgomery took off to Europe during a torrid affair with Bewitched director Richard Michaels which infuriated her second husband and the show’s main creative force William Asher (who was Michaels’ mentor).
She enjoyed playing a good-witch Samantha but later resented it when people asked her to twitch her nose. She relished more in portraying ax-murderer Lizzie Borden and spoke with authority but at times had a wicked wit and tongue.
She was a champion for several charities, advocated for the disabled, and was one of the first supporters of those suffering from AIDS.
She received death threats for protesting the Vietnam War and was devastated, along with the rest of the world, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated — on the day Bewitched began rehearsals. JFK a friend to both she and William Asher (who had produced the 1962 Democratic Rally at which Marilyn Monroe sang a breathy “Happy Birthday” to Kennedy).
And that all fit as Kennedy rallied for civil rights and against prejudice (the main theme of Bewitched).
Years after Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery became the first “Queen of TV-Movies,” but turned down the role of American royalty when she opted not to play Krystal Carrington on TV’s Dynasty nighttime soap.
I explore all of this and more, in both TWITCH UPON A STAR and THE ESSENTIAL ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY, each featuring commentary from Elizabeth, as well as rare memories from friends and co-stars like actors Florence Henderson, Ronny Cox, Cliff Robertson, and Sally Kemp (her best friend), and more.
Of TWITCH UPON A STAR, SheKnows Book Lounge says: “Pilato’s respectful, yet [truthful] portrait of the woman who will forever be remembered as the beautiful witch Samantha Stephens.”
Entertainment journalist Matthew Worley calls the encyclopedic ESSENTIAL MONTGOMERY, “the ultimate resource for Montgomery fans.”
To schedule an interview with Herbie J Pilato, visit www.HerbieJPilato.com, or email HJPilato@yahoo.com. To order either the TWITCH or ESSENTIAL book, click on the following links:
Click below to order TWITCH UPON A STAR
Click below to order THE ESSENTIAL ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY