Mixed marriages have long provided fodder for sitcoms, but Hollywood really conjured up a winner when they paired an advertising executive with a sweet-hearted sorceress in the long-running sitcom, Bewitched. Debuting in 1964, this beloved series charmed an entire generation with its wonderful casting and witty storylines, and still claims legions of enamored admirers to this day.
There were no pointy hats or missing teeth when it came to a young and beautiful witch named Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery). Instead of riding her broom around town or spending her evenings adding the eye of a newt to a bubbling cauldron, Sam preferred the role of suburban housewife, marrying an ad executive named Darrin Stephens. And, as one might expect, her extended family of witches and warlocks were less than pleased over the pairing – most notably, her mother, Endora (played by the inimitable Agnes Moorehead). A constant battle ensued between Endora, who wanted her daughter to follow the family traditions, and Darrin (whose name she usually got wrong), who preferred Sam suppress her powers unless absolutely necessary (such as when either of them got into a jam, a frequent occurrence).
These were the main characters, but they were far from the only memorable ones. Darrin’s boss Larry was a regular fixture on the show and often bore witness to the strange powers possessed by Samantha. Similarly, Gladys and Abner Kravits lived next door to the Stephens family. Ever nosy, Gladys saw more than her share of unexplained events in the Stephens home, but she failed miserably at convincing her skeptical husband, who considered her delusional. Sam and Darrin also raised a family, first adding daughter Tabitha who was born in season two, then son Adam, born three years later. Tabitha possessed the same nose-twitching powers as her mother and Adam did not.
Samantha’s extended family was comprised of a virtual coven of colorful characters. Her father Maurice, a suave thespian made the occasional appearance, as did her groovy cousin Serena (also played by Montgomery). Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde) was an irrepressible prankster and frequent guest, as well as the absent-minded, but always well-meaning, Aunt Clara. Later in the series, a witch named Esmerelda took over the housekeeping duties at the Stephens home. Finally, there was the womanizing warlock, Dr. Bombay, who acted as the family physician.
Bewitched, produced by Screen Gems, ran for eight strong seasons on ABC, despite a number of notable cast changes. The most drastic occurred before the sixth season when Dick York (Darrin Stephens) became too ill to continue the series. He was replaced by Dick Sargent who finished out the remainder of the show’s run. Furthermore, no less than seven little girls played Tabitha, while actress Sandra Gould replaced Alice Pearce as Gladys Kravitz after the latter passed away during the second season (Pearce won a posthumous Emmy Award for her work on the show). Finally, two different actresses (Irene Vernon and Kasey Rogers) played Larry Tate’s wife, Louise.
Today, the only surviving members of the series are Bernard Fox, who played Dr. Bombay, and the plethora of actresses who played Tabitha. The show, on the other hand, survives in syndication and in the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. In 2005, a theatrical movie was made based on the series, starring Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman. The reception was lukewarm at best, having failed to conjure up the magic of the original series (despite a screenplay written by Nora Ephron). The television show, on the other hand, is considered by many to be one of the finest sitcoms ever produced.
If you were enchanted by this supernatural series, either in its original run, or during the many years of syndication, we hope you’ll take a moment to share your favorite Bewitched memories with all of us in our comments section, as we give a big twitch of the nose in honor of this magical show from yesteryear.