A TV Witch Mix of Charm and Controversy - Herbie J Pilato
Published: October 29, 2012 at 11:31 PM GMT
Last Updated: October 30, 2012 at 11:31 PM GMT
By Herbie J Pilato
It's no secret that I thought Elizabeth Montgomery was the next best thing to sliced bread. I've written two books about Bewitched, her classic TV "witch-com," and now - Taylor Trade Publishing has just published my new biography about her:
Twitch Upon A Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery.
So what's so compelling about the life and career of this extraordinary actress (who unfortunately died of colon cancer at much too young an age 62 in 1995)?
She was one of the first celebrities to donate her time and money to charity work for AIDS. She marched in the Gay Pride Parade with the newly-de-closeted Bewitched co-star Dick Sargent (the second Darrin). She campaigned for the Peace Movement, the disabled community and during the reign of Bewitched, she protested the Vietnam War.
Beyond acting, Elizabeth loved to draw and paint and once, when she was a child, she fancied herself working in the animation department for Walt Disney.
Before her iconic performance as Samantha Stephens, the witch-with-a-twitch on Bewitched, she made over 200 guest-star TV appearances on shows like The Twilight Zone (with Charles Bronson), The Untouchables (in an Emmy-nominated role as a hooker), and 77 Sunset Strip. In the latter, she played the bi-racial daughter of none-other-than Juanita Moore in what turned out to be a small-screen remake of Moore's 1959 big-screen classic Imitation of Life.
That plot sat well with well with Elizabeth and Samantha.
As far as Elizabeth was concerned, the running theme of Bewitched was "prejudice," exampled by the historic episode, Sisters at Heart, which was co-written by the 1970 multi-cultural graduating class of Jefferson High School in Los Angeles (the episode had to do with little Tabitha befriending a young girl who happened to be African-American...they wanted them to be sisters so Tabitha used "wishcraft"...and tried to make them the same color - but instead black polka dots showed up on her, white polka dots on her new young friend).
After playing Samantha, Elizabeth made ground-breaking TV-movies like A Case of Rape (one of the first issue-oriented and highest-rated TV-movies in history).
Behind the camera, her personal life was nothing short of an astoundingly complex mix of charm and controversy.
She was married four times: New York high-roller Fred Cammann, troubled alcoholic actor Gig Young (who later killed himself in a double murder/suicide), Bewitched producer/director William Asher (who had guided countless episodes of I Love Lucy), and the talented Robert Foxworth (Chase Gioberti on Falcon Crest).
She and third husband Asher were good friends with President Kennedy, and Bewitched began production on November 22, 1963 – the day Kennedy was assassinated. (Asher had also produced Kennedy's famous birthday party at which Marilyn Monroe sang a breathy Happy Birthday!)
She did not always see eye-to-eye with Bewitched co-stars Agnes Moorehead and Dick York (the first Darrin).
The very liberal Democrat Elizabeth had a tumultuous relationship with her very conservative Republican father Robert Montgomery....who was good friends with Ronald Reagan, who she hated.
She narrated the controversial Cover Up/Panama Deception feature film documentaries that explored Reagan's involvement with the Iran/Contra Affair.
The Pan Am incident over Lockerbie in 1988 took the life of the son of Bewitched star David White...who, along with Elizabeth, was devastated - and angered - at his loss.
Elizabeth brought a real-life magical quality of her personality to Samantha. She made witches likeable and believable...because Elizabeth was so likable and believable in real life. (She shunned her prestigious upbringing and embraced the simple treasures of life.)
But after Bewitched, Elizabeth hated it when people asked her to twitch her nose.
And on and on…and all of which…and more…is explained and detailed in Twitch Upon A Star.
Herbie J Pilato will be signing copies of his new book, TWITCH UPON A STAR: THE BEWITCHED LIFE AND CAREER OF ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY, at and on the follow days and locations: Friday, November 9 at 7 PM, BookStar Bookstore, 12136 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604, (818) 505-9528 - and - Monday, November 12 at 7 PM, Book Soup Bookstore, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood, CA 90069, (310) 659-3110.
Herbie J Pilato is an actor/writer/producer/executive who has worked for Syfy, A&E, TLC, Bravo, The Discovery Channel, Universal, Warner Bros. and Sony. The author of a number of acclaimed classic TV tie-in books (The Bionic Book, Life Story - The Book of Life Goes On, The Bewitched Book, Bewitched Forever, The Kung Fu Book of Caine,The Kung Fu Book of Wisdom, and NBC & ME: My Life As A Page In A Book), Herbie J is also the Founder and Executive Director for The Classic TV Preservation Society (a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the gap between positive TV shows and education; www.ClassicTVPS.blogspot.com); the Creative Director for Erie Street Entertainment (a TV production company that is geared toward sci-fi/fantasy, and family-oriented material; www.ErieStreetEntertainment.blogspot.com); and the President of Pop-Culture Consultants (an entertainment consulting firm, www.Pop-CultureConsultants.blogspot.com). He appears frequently on TV in shows, like the TV Guide Channel's new series, 100 Moments That Changed TV and Entertainment Tonight. He has performed on daytime soaps like General Hospital and The Bold and The Beautiful, as well as classic TV shows like The Golden Girls and Highway to Heaven. Herbie J’s new book, TWITCH UPON A STAR: THE BEWITCHED LIFE AND CAREER OF ELIZABETEH MONTGOMERY, will be published in November by Taylor Trade Publishing. To pre-order the book, click on this link https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781589797499 and/or for more information, please email email@example.com.
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