When Bewitched first was televised on September 1964, no one imagined it would be as successful as it is today. While the show lasted a good eight seasons, Samantha’s signature twitchy nose is something that’s still recognizable today. Aside from that, the story was also made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Will Farrell.
Bewitched held great fame, finishing as the number two show in America during its debut season, and becoming the longest running supernatural themed sitcom of the 1960s–1970s. The show continues to be seen throughout the world in syndication and on recorded media.
While Samantha tried her best to keep her own secrets, the show’s producers weren’t able to keep everything out of the public’s watching eye. Here are some things you may not know about Bewitched.
12. Elizabeth Montgomery Was Never Replaced
We all know that the star of the show was Elizabeth Montgomery. She was known as Samantha Stephens the nose wiggling witch and everybody loved her character. That character launched her career and catapulted her to stardom. But as a Hollywood actress, you need to be versatile. So aside from playing Samantha, she also played Serena, Samantha’s cousin. Now you know why they look awfully alike.
11. The Show’s Inspiration
The TV show was created by Sol Saks after he watched the films I Married A Witch and Bell, Book and Candle. Sol Saks reproduced the script for the pilot episode after the film. He has said in interviews since the airing of the show, he wasn’t worried about any lawsuit. Considering that both films were owned by Columbia Pictures, which also owned Screen Gems the company that produced Bewitched. Good for him, as the show became a huge success. There’s no harm in trying, right?
10. Mr. York’s Story
Actor Richard Crenna was offered the role Darrin, but he had just spent several years on “The Real McCoys,” so he passed. Dick York ended up with the lead male role. Dick Sargent would later take the role, but we’ll never know if the show would have lasted 8 seasons with him in the first place.
Dick York’s departure was never explained on the show but he had a good reason for it. York tore most of the muscles on the right side of his back while filming Cordura, and never recovered completely. Doctors gave him pain medication, but it really didn’t help that much.
Since special effects weren’t as good back in the 1960s, stagehands worked hard to create Samantha’s “magic.” If she wanted to quickly tidy up the living room, Elizabeth Montgomery would stand in place with her arms up while the director yelled, “Cut!” and stagehands removed the clutter.
She was allowed to have crutch-like devices to help keep her arms up for long periods of time. She was only allowed to lower her arms and continue the scene when the director yelled, “Action!” Now, that was tiring.
8. Drunk On Set
Cast members often drank on set and were sometimes filmed while drunk, even the producer. The drinking was so prevalent that many fan sites were created to log the number of times in each episode that each character was seen drinking.
In fact, there’s a couple of bars and nightclubs mentioned on the show. Supposedly the rules were stricter when children were on set. Actors were supposed to use iced tea to copy the look of alcohol. Dick Wilson often played a drunk on the show and he plays effortlessly. Or is it the real deal?
7. Samantha vs Cassandra
The show’s creator, Sol Saks, really wanted actress Tammy Grimes to play as the lead witch. And was supposed to be called Cassandra, not Samantha, originally. Saks liked the fact that Grimes had such a naturally elfin appearance.
In the end, Sol Saks and Bill Asher went with Elizabeth Montgomery for this series. She actually auditioned for the original role, but due to being under contract with Screen Gems, she wasn’t able to take the job. The character was renamed Samantha, and the rest is history. No regrets on that.
6. Bewitched vs I Dream of Jeannie
It’s been said that Elizabeth Montgomery was not happy when I Dream Of Jeannie debuted on NBC just one year after Bewitched was introduced on rival network ABC. Both shows were about gorgeous blonde women with magical powers. Jeannie was a 2,000-year-old genie who falls in love with a NASA astronaut and they both shared similar plot lines at times.
But Elizabeth Montgomery never felt any personal hatred to I Dream Of Jeannie’s stars Barbara Eden or Larry Hagman. No bad blood, nothing personal just work.
5. No Nose Wiggling
Elizabeth Montgomery’s nose wiggle was actually a camera trick, according to Erin Murphy, the actress who played her daughter, Tabitha. If you look closely, you’ll notice that Samantha’s nose never wiggles.
It’s actually her upper lip. Some people even claim her mouth moving did move her nose. But whichever part wiggled, we all know that something mischievous is about to happen.
4. Heavy Smokers
Many of the stars and guest stars of Bewitched were real life heavy smokers. Elizabeth Montgomery was apparently a chain smoker, and Paul Lynde was too. Dick York also smoked three packs a day! Aside from heavy drinking, smoking was common on the set.
In a later interview, Tabitha actress Erin Murphy said, “I remember my parents were always saying ‘smoking is bad, smoking is bad,’ and I remember thinking ‘If smoking is bad, then why is everybody around here doing it?”
3. Real-Life Curse?
Some fans suspect that there’s a real-life curse on the show. Why? Because a large portion of its cast ended up dying of cancer-related conditions. Many also died young. Besides Elizabeth Montgomery, other major cast members to die at relatively young ages (under 65) include Alice Pearce (cancer), Paul Lynde (heart attack), Dick York (emphysema), and Dick Sargent (cancer).
It’s hard to say whether this sad statistic can be connected to witchcraft or to unhealthy lifestyle decisions. But we all know that heavy smoking and drinking was tolerated on set.
2. Weary Witch
Despite the huge success of the show, Elizabeth Montgomery grew tired of Bewitched and was ready to say goodbye after the fifth season. But of course, the producers didn’t allow her to leave.
So as an encouragement, the show producers offered her so much money that she couldn’t walk away. But her performances in the last three seasons were noticeably dull. Money isn’t everything.
1. Behind-The-Scenes Relationships
People are often curious about the behind-the-scenes relationship between Samantha and Tabitha. Child actress Erin Murphy recently gave an ABC interview about her time on Bewitched.
She shared that she was very close to her television parents, even calling them by the nicknames Darren Daddy and Mantha Mommy. In the interview, she said “I looked to her [Montgomery] as a parent, and she would tell me what to do like a parent. In a lot of ways I’m so much like her than I am my own mom, which is hilarious.” She was also close with Agnes Moorehead, who played her grandmother.
Those were some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of Bewitched. Who knew that it had some dark secrets behind the family oriented show. After all, it’s Hollywood and there will always be a few secrets here and there.