When Bewitched first aired in September 1964 no one imagined that it will be wildly successful. It finished as the number two show in America during its debut season and eventually became the longest running supernatural themed sitcom during the 1960s–1970s. Even though the show lasted only eight seasons, Samantha’s nose twitching is something that can still be recognized today. In 2002, Bewitched was ranked #50 on “TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time”. Here are some fun facts you didn’t know about Bewitched.
15. Samantha Played by Actress Elizabeth Montgomery Never Actually Wiggled Her Nose
Surprise, surprise. All this time, a majority thought that it was Elizabeth’s nose wiggling but it was actually only a camera trick according to Erin Murphy, the actress who played her daughter Tabitha. If you even look closely, you’ll notice that Samantha’s nose never really wiggled. It’s actually her upper lip. Some people even claim her mouth moving made her nose move.
Darrin, Samatha’s husband was actually played by more than one actor. The producers replaced Dick York with Dick Sargent without any warning or explanation. They hoped that the audience either wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t care. The act of switching out actors without explanation like this became known as “The Darrin Syndrome.” But poor Dick York left the show due to chronic back pain.
13. Richard Crenna Admits He Almost Played Darrin
In the early days of the show’s casting, a young actor named Richard Sargent was close to being signed on to play Darrin Stephens. On the other hand, he took another job while the producers searched for a Samantha. He may not have been a serious consideration but we will never know what the show would have been like, or if the Darrin Syndrome would have happened.
His leaving was never explained on the show, but Dick York had a good reason for it. He tore most of his muscles on the right side of his back while filming Cordura, and never recovered completely. Doctors gave him pain medication, but that wasn’t really a long-term solution. During Season Five of the show, a replacement doctor gave him some B-12 when he went in during a lunch break from filming. He had a seizure on set and was rushed to the hospital. He was not able to return and the show went Darrin-less for a few episodes until Dick Sargent stepped in.
She became pregnant while doing the show three times! Her first was born in July 1964. The producers were able to write two of her pregnancies into the script, adding Tabitha and Adam effortlessly to the Stephens family. Lucky for us because it enhanced their TV family in a very natural way! Like they say, the more, the merrier.
Alice Pearce disappeared from the world of Bewitched when she passed away in March 1966 from ovarian cancer. Pearce received her cancer diagnosis four months before she landed her role on the show. She had surgery, but doctors informed her that her ovarian cancer was terminal. She never told her coworkers about her illness. It wasn’t only her who died of cancer, approximately 85% of the cast ended up dying of cancer-related causes. It’s hard to say whether this sad statistic can be credited to witchcraft or to unhealthy lifestyle decisions.
The story idea and basic script for Sisters at Heart was created by 22 African-American 10th graders in Marcella Saunders’ English class at Jefferson High School in South Central Los Angeles. The plot happened because Samantha cast a spell on a racist client of Darrin’s, where he is supposed to see everyone, even himself, as having black skin. While the episode has its moral of the story, it would be considered politically incorrect now, since several actors appear in blackface at one point.
Since CGI animation didn’t exist in the 1960s, stagehands worked hard to produce Samantha’s make-believe magic. Like if she wanted to quickly clean up the living room, Samantha would stand in place with her arms up while the director yelled, “Cut!” and stagehands removed the clutter. She would 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!”
Cast members often drank on set and were sometimes filmed while drunk, including producer William Asher. The drinking was so pervasive that many fan sites were created to log the number of times in each episode that each character was seen drinking. Aside from drinking, many of the casts and guest stars were also heavy smokers. Elizabeth Montgomery was supposedly a chain smoker, and Paul Lynde was too. Dick York actually smoked three packs a day!
Despite its wild success, Elizabeth Montgomery grew tired of Bewitched and was ready to throw in the towel after the fifth season. She wanted to say goodbye to her witching days. But the producers tried to convince her otherwise and offered her so much money that she couldn’t walk away. She decided to stay but her performances in the last three seasons were noticeably bland.
5. Elizabeth Montgomery Almost Didn’t Make The Cut
The show’s creator, Sol Saks, really wanted actress Tammy Grimes to play as his lead witch who was to be called Cassandra, not Samantha, originally. Saks liked the fact that Tammy had such a naturally “elfin” appearance. She actually auditioned for the original role, but due to being under contract to Screen Gems, she wasn’t able to take the job. In the end, Sol Saks and Bill Asher went with Elizabeth Montgomery for this series and the rest is history.
4. Record-Breaking Drinking Habits
Several bars and nightclubs were mentioned on the show: The Diamond Slipper, Dundee’s Bar (which Darrin calls as “the best restaurant in town”), Purple Popsicle night club, Joe’s Bar and Grill, Happy Times Bar, Hearthstone Bar/Restaurant, Golden Spoon Restaurant, and Elbow Room Cocktail Lounge. Supposedly the rules were stricter when children were on set. The actors were supposed to drink iced tea to imitate the look of alcohols. Dick Wilson often played a drunk on the show. Maybe he knows how much acting was involved?
The house used for the set of Bewitched wasn’t exclusively theirs. It could also be seen in other popular movies and TV shows. The house that was used for the 1959 movie Gidget was copied, in reverse, for the Bewitched set. The patio and interior living rooms were duplicates from another Gidget movie. The facade of the home also appeared in shows like Dennis the Menace and I Dream of Jeannie. In case the house used in these movies and shows looked overwhelmingly familiar, now you know.
Elizabeth Montgomery was a private person who never felt the need to make the details of her life public. At the time of her death, her age was published as 57. But in reality, she was 62. Several obituaries also listed her as single because she didn’t reveal to the public her marriage to Robert Foxworth a couple years previously. She was diagnosed with advanced stage colon cancer. She didn’t want to die in the hospital so she chose to return to her Beverly Hills home that she shared with Robert Foxworth. Early on the morning of May 18, 1995, she died at home eight weeks after her diagnosis.
1. Way To Show ‘Em
At the end of her time playing the Samantha role, Elizabeth Montgomery stopped wearing a bra during filming, as a symbol of support for the women’s lib movement. Aside from going bare, she also played the role of Samantha’s mischievous cousin, Serena, under the pseudonym Pandora Spocks.
Now that we know these fun facts, we’ll never see Bewitched the same ever again. Just like the saying goes, everybody has secrets, this show is no exemption. Who would have thought that Samantha and Darrin were heavy smokers? But despite these things, Bewitched will always be loved and remembered.