Elizabeth Montgomery

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Elizabeth Montgomery
Elizabeth Montgomery 1967.jpg
BornElizabeth Victoria Montgomery
(1933-04-15)April 15, 1933
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedMay 18, 1995(1995-05-18) (aged 62)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Colorectal cancer
Resting place
Other namesPandora Spocks
EducationWestlake School For Girls
Spence School
Alma materAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1951–1995
Known forSamantha Stephens on Bewitched
Spouse(s)Frederick Gallatin Cammann (m.1954–1955)
Gig Young (m.1956–1963)
William Asher (1963–1973)
Robert Foxworth (m.1993–1995, her death)
ParentsRobert Montgomery
Elizabeth Bryan Allen
RelativesMartha-Bryan Allen (aunt)
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Elizabeth Montgomery
Elizabeth Montgomery 1967.jpg
BornElizabeth Victoria Montgomery
(1933-04-15)April 15, 1933
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedMay 18, 1995(1995-05-18) (aged 62)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Colorectal cancer
Resting place
Other namesPandora Spocks
EducationWestlake School For Girls
Spence School
Alma materAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1951–1995
Known forSamantha Stephens on Bewitched
Spouse(s)Frederick Gallatin Cammann (m.1954–1955)
Gig Young (m.1956–1963)
William Asher (1963–1973)
Robert Foxworth (m.1993–1995, her death)
ParentsRobert Montgomery
Elizabeth Bryan Allen
RelativesMartha-Bryan Allen (aunt)

Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery (April 15, 1933 – May 18, 1995)[1] was an American film and television actress whose career spanned five decades. She is best remembered as the star of the TV series Bewitched.

The daughter of Robert Montgomery, she began her career in the 1950s with a role on her father's television series Robert Montgomery Presents. In the 1960s, she rose to fame 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. In 1974, she portrayed Ellen Harrod in A Case of Rape and Lizzie Borden in the 1975 television film The Legend of Lizzie Borden. Both roles earned her additional Emmy Award nominations.

Montgomery was married four times, most notably to actor producer/director William Asher with whom she had three children. Her final marriage was to actor Robert Foxworth, with whom she lived for twenty years before marrying in 1993. Montgomery died of colorectal cancer in May 1995, eight weeks after being diagnosed with the disease.

Early life[edit]

Elizabeth Montgomery was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of actor Robert Montgomery and his wife, Broadway actress Elizabeth Daniel Bryan Montgomery (née Allen). She had an older sister, Martha Bryan Montgomery, who died as an infant (named after her aunt Martha-Bryan Allen) and a brother, Robert Montgomery, Jr. (1936 - 2000).[2] She attended Westlake School for Girls (now Harvard-Westlake School in Holmby Hills).[3] After graduating from Spence School, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts for three years.[4]


Early years[edit]

Montgomery made her television debut in her father's series Robert Montgomery Presents (later appearing on occasion as a member of his "summer stock" company of performers), and her film debut in 1955 in The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell.

Her early career consisted of starring vehicles 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, Boris Karloff's Thriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1960 Montgomery was nominated for an Emmy Award for her portrayal of southern prostitute Rusty Heller in an episode of The Untouchables, playing opposite David White who later portrayed Darrin's boss Larry Tate in Bewitched.[5]

She was featured in a role as a socialite who falls for a gangster (Henry Silva) in Johnny Cool. The same year, with Dean Martin and Carol Burnett, she appeared in the film comedy Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?, directed by Daniel Mann. 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, but Montgomery was unavailable.

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


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

Bewitched became a ratings success (it was, at the time, the highest-rated series ever for the network).[6] The series aired for eight seasons, from 1964 to 1972, and remains popular through syndication and DVD releases. The show had been renewed for a ninth season to run from 1972 to 1973. Montgomery, however, had fallen in love with director Richard Michaels and moved in with him, ending any possibility of another season.

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). This was directed by William 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.

Montgomery received five Emmy[7] and four Golden Globe nominations for her role on Bewitched.[8]

The show added to the increasing popularity of the name Samantha. It was first recorded in 18th century New England of unknown etymology, and, while relatively rare until 1958, has remained consistently popular since 1965 due chiefly to Montgomery's character.[9]

After Bewitched[edit]

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); the accused (but later acquitted) murderess Lizzie Borden in William Bast's The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975); and a pioneer woman facing hardship in 1820s Ohio in the mini-series The Awakening Land (1978).

Sisters Emma and Lizzie Borden played by Katherine Helmond and Elizabeth Montgomery

Elizabeth Montgomery and Lizzie Borden were sixth cousins once removed, both descending from 17th-century Massachusetts resident John Luther. Rhonda McClure, the genealogist who documented the Montgomery-Borden connection after Montgomery's death, said "I wonder how Elizabeth would have felt if she knew she was playing her own cousin."[10]

In 1977, Montgomery played a police detective having an affair with her married partner, played by O.J. Simpson, in A Killing Affair. She played a rare villainous role in the 1985 television movie Amos, as a vicious nurse in a home for senior citizens who abuses her wards, played by, among others, Kirk Douglas and Dorothy McGuire. One of her last roles was 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 movies were the highly rated Edna Buchanan detective series - the second and final film of the series received its first airing on May 9, 1995,[11] only nine days before her death.


Montgomery made many appearances on the game show Password. Allen Ludden, the show's longtime host, called her "the Queen of Password."[12]

Personal life[edit]

Montgomery's first marriage was to New York socialite Frederick Gallatin Cammann in 1954; the couple divorced less than a year later. She was married to actor Gig Young from 1956 to 1963, and then to director-producer William Asher from 1963 until their 1973 divorce. They had three children: William Asher Jr (July 24, 1964), Robert Asher (October 5, 1965) and Rebecca Asher (June 17, 1969). The last two pregnancies were incorporated into Bewitched as Samantha's pregnancies with Tabitha (primarily Erin Murphy, with twin Diane) and Adam Stephens.[13]

On January 28, 1993, she married for a fourth time to actor Robert Foxworth, after living with him for nearly twenty years. She remained married to Foxworth until her death.[14]

Political activism[edit]

During Bewitched's run, she was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War. In the late 1980s and early 1990s she narrated a series of political documentaries, including Coverup: 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.[7] Montgomery had progressive political views, being an outspoken champion of women's rights, gay rights and was pro-choice throughout her life.

Charity work[edit]

Throughout the last year of her life, Montgomery was a volunteer for the Los Angeles Unit of Learning Ally, a non-profit 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 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 death[edit]

In the spring of 1995, Montgomery was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. She had ignored the flu-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 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.[7] She was 62.

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 and inurned at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

Elizabeth Montgomery had a summer home in Patterson, New York, in Putnam County. Following her death, the 800-acre (320 ha) estate was sold to New York State and became Wonder Lake State Park.



1955The Court-Martial of Billy MitchellMargaret Lansdowne
1958Bitter HeritageMary BreckerTelevision movie
1960Bells Are RingingGirl reading bookUncredited
1961The Spiral StaircaseHelen WarrenTelevision movie
1963Boston TerrierMillie CurtainTelevision movie
1963Johnny CoolDarien "Dare" Guinness
1963Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?Mellisa Morris
1964Bikini BeachLady Bug (Voice)Uncredited
1965How to Stuff a Wild BikiniBwana's Daughter, The Witches WitchUncredited
1972The VictimKate WainwrightTelevision movie
1973Mrs. SundanceEtta PlaceTelevision movie
1974A Case of RapeEllen HarrodTelevision movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Drama Series
1975The Legend of Lizzie BordenLizzie BordenTelevision movie
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy
1976Dark VictoryKatherine MerrillTelevision movie
1977A Killing AffairVikki EatonTelevision movie
1978The Awakening LandSayward Luckett WheelerMiniseries
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series
1979Jennifer: A Woman's StoryJennifer PrinceTelevision movie
1979Act of ViolenceCatherine McSweeneyTelevision movie
1980Belle StarrBelle StarrTelevision movie
1981When the Circus Came to TownMary FlynnTelevision movie
1982The Rules of MarriageJoan HagenTelevision movie
1983Missing PiecesSara ScottTelevision movie
1984Second Sight: A Love StoryAlaxandra McKayTelevision movie
1985AmosDaisy DawsTelevision movie
1985Between the Darkness and the DawnAbigail FosterTelevision movie
1988Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra AffairNarratorDocumentary film
1990Face to FaceDr. Diana FirestoneTelevision movie
1991Sins of the MotherRuth CoeTelevision movie
1992With Murder in MindGayle WolferTelevision movie
1992The Panama DeceptionNarratorDocumentary film
1993The Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore StoryBlanche Taylor MooreTelevision movie
1994The Corpse Had a Familiar FaceEdna BuchananTelevision movie
1995Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna BuchananEdna BuchananTelevision movie
1951–1956Robert Montgomery PresentsVarious roles30 episodes
1953–1954Armstrong Circle TheatreEllen Craig2 episodes
1954–1957Kraft Television TheatreVarious roles7 episodes
1955–1956Appointment with Adventure2 episodes
1955–1958Studio OneVarious roles3 episodes
1956Warner Bros. PresentsLaura WoodruffEpisode: "Siege"
1956Climax!BetsyEpisode: "The Shadow of Evil"
1958Playhouse 90Mary BreckerEpisode: "Bitter Heritage"
1958SuspicionEllenEpisode: "The Velvet Vault"
1958DuPont Show of the MonthMiss KellyEpisode: "Harvey"
1958Cimmarron CityEllen WilsonEpisode: "Hired Hand"
1958Alfred Hitchcock PresentsKarenEpisode: "Man with a Problem"
1959The Loretta Young ShowMillieEpisode: "Marriage Crisis"
1959The Third ManLorraineEpisode: "A Man Take a Trip"
1959RiverboatAbigail CarruthersEpisode: "The Barrier"
1959Johnny StaccatoFay LinnEpisode: "Tempted"
1959Wagon TrainJulie CrailEpisode: "The Vittorio Bottecelli Story"
1960The Tab Hunter ShowHilary FairfieldEpisode: "For Money or Love"
1960One Step BeyondLillie ClarkeEpisode: "The Death Waltz"
1960The UntouchablesRusty HellerEpisode: "The Rusty Heller Story"
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
1961The Twilight ZoneThe WomanEpisode: "Two"
1961ThrillerRosamond "Ros" DenhamEpisode: "Masquerade"
1961Frontier CircusKarina AndrewsEpisode: "Karina"
1962CheckmateVicki PageEpisode: "The Star System"
1962Alcoa PremiereIris HecateEpisode: "Mr. Lucifer"
1963Saints and SinnersEadie DonelliEpisode: "The Homecoming Bit"
1963RawhideRose CorneliusEpisode: "Incident at El Crucero"
196377 Sunset StripCharlotte DelavilleEpisode: "White Lie"
1963The Eleventh HourPolly SaundersEpisode: "The Bronze Locust"
1963–1964Burke's LawVarious roles2 episodes
1964–1972BewitchedSamantha Stephens254 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)
1965The FlintstonesSamantha Stephens (Voice)Episode: "Samantha"
1995Batman: The Animated SeriesBarmaid (Voice)Episode: "Showdown"

Awards and honors[edit]

YearAwardCategoryTitle of workResult
1961Emmy AwardOutstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading RoleThe UntouchablesNominated
1966Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress - Comedy SeriesBewitchedNominated
1967Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress - Comedy SeriesBewitchedNominated
1968Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress - Comedy SeriesBewitchedNominated
1969Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress - Comedy SeriesBewitchedNominated
1970Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress - Comedy SeriesBewitchedNominated
1974Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress - Drama SeriesA Case of RapeNominated
1975Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Special Program - Drama or ComedyThe Legend of Lizzie BordenNominated
1978Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actress in a Limited SeriesThe Awakening LandNominated
1965Golden Globe AwardBest TV Star (Female)BewitchedNominated
1967Golden Globe AwardBest TV Star (Female)BewitchedNominated
1969Golden Globe AwardBest TV Star (Female)BewitchedNominated
1995Women in Film Crystal + Lucy AwardLucy AwardIn recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television.[18]Recipient posthumously


In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ "NY Times Obituary – May 18, 1995". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Pylant, James. "The Bewitching Family Tree of Elizabeth Montgomery". genealogymagazine.com. Retrieved November 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ Pilato, Herbie J. (2012). Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 49. ISBN 1-589-79749-3. 
  4. ^ "Elizabeth Montgomery Biography". thebiographychannel.co.uk. Retrieved November 27, 2009. 
  5. ^ R.E. Lee. "The Rusty Heller Story". Bob's Bewitching Daughter. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  6. ^ Mansour, David (2005). From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 0-7407-5118-2. 
  7. ^ a b c Gliatto, Tom (1995-06-05). "That Magic Feeling". People. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  8. ^ Larkin, Mike (December 15, 2011). "A Bewitching property: Elizabeth Montgomery's spellbinding California house is put on the market for $1.2million". London: dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  9. ^ Withycombe, E. G. (1977). The Concise Dictionary of English Christian Names. Oxford University Press. 
  10. ^ Pylant, James (2004). "The Bewitching Family Tree of Elizabeth Montgomery". Genealogy Magazine. ""Rhonda R. McClure. Finding Your Famous (& Infamous) Ancestors. (Cincinnati: Betterway Books: 2003), pp. 14-16." 
  11. ^ Cotter, Bill (1997). The Wonderful Words of Disney Television: A Complete History. Hyperion. p. 18. ISBN 0-7868-6359-5. 
  12. ^ Herbie J. Pilato (October 7, 2013). The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide to Her Magical Performances. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-58979-825-0. 
  13. ^ Rochman Sue, "A Touch of Magic", Cancer Today magazine, Summer 2012
  14. ^ R. E. Lee. "Elizabeth Montgomery Biography". Retrieved 2007-07-18.  There were many references to Patterson, New York made on "Bewitched" throughout the run of the series. The Putnam County, New York 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 where Elizabeth visited her on frequent trips East.
  15. ^ Dulin, Dann. "Witchful Thinking". aumag.org. 
  16. ^ "A Pictorial Tale of the 'Bewitched' statue of Salem, Massachusetts". palachi.com. 2005. 
  17. ^ "Hollywood star is unveiled posthumously for TV's 'Bewitched' star Elizabeth Montgomery". Associated Press. 2008-01-05. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  18. ^ http://wif.org/past-recipients

External links[edit]