Synopsis of TV Show
This long-running situation comedy took a light-hearted look at the supernatural. The show, which could have been forgettable fluff in lighter hands, was buoyed by intelligent writing and sharp performances, and as a result, Bewitched became a favorite with critics and audiences and even won a few Emmys.
Elizabeth Montgomery starred as Samantha, the wife of ad executive Darrin Stephens. She was not the average housewife… in fact, she was a witch. Darrin encouraged her to suppress her powers and try to live a normal life, but Samantha couldn’t help but use her powers when she or Darrin were in a jam. With a twitch of the nose, she would make something magical happen and throw Darrin and the rest of the mortal world into a tizzy.
A frequent unintentional witness to Samantha’s magical antics was Larry, Darrin’s boss. Among the other inhabitants of this bewitched world were Larry's wife Louise, and the Stephens’ next-door neighbors the Kravitzes, nosy Gladys and long-suffering Abner. Samantha and Darrin would later have two children, Tabitha and Adam. Tabitha had her mother's powers, but Adam didn’t seem to (much to Darrin’s relief). A physician character, Dr. Bombay, was added to the show in 1967
On the other side of the coin was Samantha’s side of the family, all of whom wanted her to forsake the mortal life for full-time witchcraft. Endora was Samantha’s mother and the ultimate vicious mother-in-law, not thinking much of mortals like Darrin. Maurice was Samantha’s father, and the rest of the magical family included practical joking Uncle Arthur and forgetful Aunt Clara. Esmeralda was added later in the show’s run as was a slightly inept witch housekeeper. She was a timid soul and would vanish into thin air if spoken to in a harsh tone.
The tension between the mortal and supernatural worlds and Samantha’s precarious balancing act between the two formed the backbone of all the episodes. On any given episode, Samantha might try to keep the peace with her father when he discovered Darrin was a mortal, or Endora might decide Darrin needed a sense of humor and put a hex on him to make him crack jokes uncontrollably. These premises might have seemed simple on the surface, but they quickly achieved complexity when worked through the show’s intricate web of character relationships.
The show’s scripts were always solid and utilized a consistently high level of imagination when working the supernatural elements into the story (in one show, Esmerelda was asked to make a Caesar salad and accidentally conjured up Julius Caesar himself). The show’s ensemble was tight and funny, and their across-the-board chemistry both brought the stories to life and made the material believable. The show also had a rare consistency of style and tone, thanks to the fact that the show had one regular producer and director, William Asher, to guide the actors through their paces. It is interesting to note that Mr. Asher happened to be the real-life husband of Elizabeth Montgomery, Samantha Stephens herself.
Bewitched experienced many casting changes during its long run. Kasey Rogers replaced Irene Vernon as Louise Tate in 1966, and Sandra Gould replaced Alice Pearce as Gladys Kravitz the same year. Tabitha was played by no less than three sets of twins: Heidi and Laura Gentry and Tamar and Julie Young all played Tabatha throughout much of 1966, but were replaced permanently by the duo of Erin and Diane Murphy. But the most noticeable replacement (and one of the most famous in TV history) occurred in 1969 when Dick Sargent replaced an ailing Dick York as Darrin. Usually having multiple changes like these are detrimental to a show’s quality, but Bewitched’s consistency of tone and style allowed the show to triumph over the changes.
The show ended its run in July of 1972 after eight seasons, having won Emmys for Asher’s direction and Marion Lorne’s performance as Aunt Clara. Montgomery was nominated 5 times for he work as Samantha, but never won. Just the same, she will always be remembered fondly by television viewers for the role of Samantha Stevens. Tabitha, a spin-off series built around the now-grown daughter character, was aired during the 1977-78 season, bringing witchy comedy back to the small screen at least for a while.
Release History of Prime Time Show9/17/64 - 7/1/72 ABC
TV Sub Categoriescomedy
Television StudioAshmont Productions, Screen Gems
TV CastSamantha Stephens Elizabeth Montgomery
Serena Elizabeth Montgomery
Darrin Stephens (1964-68) Dick York
Darrin Stephens (1969-72) Dick Sargent
Endora Agnes Moorehead
Larry Tate David White
Phyllis Stephens Mabel Albertson
Frank Stephens Roy Roberts
Frank Stephens Robert F. Simon
Maurice (1964-72) Maurice Evans
Aunt Clara (1964-68) Marion Lorne
Abner Kravitz (1964-72) George Tobias
Gladys Kravitz (1964-66) Alice Pearce
Louise Tate (1964-66) Irene Vernon
Gertrude (1964) Kit Smythe
Uncle Arthur (1965-72) Paul Lynde
Gladys Kravitz (1966-72) Sandra Gould
Tabitha Stephens (1966-72) Diane Murphy
Tabitha Stephens (1966-72) Erin Murphy
Louise Tate (1966-72) Kasey Rogers
Dr. Bombay (1967-72) Bernard Fox
Esmeralda (1969-72) Alice Ghostley
Adam Stephens (1971-72) David Lawrence
Adam Stephens (1971-72) Greg Lawrence