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Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery (April 15, 1933 – May 18, 1995) was an American film and television actress whose career spanned five decades. She is best remembered for her roles as Samantha Stephens in Bewitched, as Ellen Harrod in A Case of Rape and as Lizzie Borden in The Legend of Lizzie Borden.

Early life

Born in Los Angeles, California, Elizabeth Montgomery was the child of actor Robert Montgomery and his wife, Broadway actress Elizabeth Bryan Allen.[1] She had an older sister, Martha Bryan Montgomery, who died as an infant, and a brother, Robert Montgomery, Jr., who was born in 1936.[2] After graduating from The Spence School, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts for three years.[3]


Early years

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, The Twilight Zone, The Eleventh Hour, Boris Karloff's Thriller and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1954 she lost out on co-starring with Marlon Brando in the film On the Waterfront directed by Elia Kazan.

In 1960 Montgomery was nominated for an Emmy 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.[4]

She was featured in a role as a socialite with Henry Silva and Sammy Davis, Jr. in the offbeat 1963 gangster film Johnny Cool and, the same year, with Dean Martin and Carol Burnett in the motion picture comedy Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?, directed by Daniel Mann. Nevertheless, 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 owing to her commitment to a new television show: Bewitched.


File:Bewitched promo.png

Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York as Samantha and Darrin Stephens in Bewitched in 1967.

Montgomery played the central role of lovable witch Samantha Stephens with Dick York (and later Dick Sargent) as her husband in the ABC situation comedy Bewitched. She also played the role of Samantha's cousin, Serena. The show became a rating success (it was, at the time, the highest rated series ever for the network[5]). It enjoyed an eight-year run from 1964 to 1972 and remains popular through syndication and DVD releases. The show had even been given the 'green light' for a ninth season by the network, but Montgomery, wishing to do other things, backed out. She also provided the voice of Samantha for an episode of The Flintstones.

Montgomery received five Emmy and four Golden Globe nominations for her role. At its creative peak, Bewitched was considered one of the most sophisticated sitcoms on the air and it cleverly explored contemporary themes and social issues within a fantasy context.

After Bewitched

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 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, including performances that brought her Emmy Award nominations for playing a rape victim in A Case of Rape (1974), for her portrayal of Lizzie Borden in William Bast's The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975), and for her role as a strong woman facing hardship in 1820s Ohio in the mini-series The Awakening Land (1978).

In 1977, Montgomery played a police detective having an interracial affair with her partner, played by O.J. Simpson in A Killing Affair. She made a chilling villain in the 1985 picture Amos, playing a nurse in a state home who terrorized residents portrayed by Kirk Douglas and Dorothy McGuire.

One of her last roles was in an episode for Batman: The Animated Series entitled "Showdown," in which she played a barmaid; this was also her final work to be screened, as 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,[6] only days before she died.

Personal life

Montgomery was first married to New York socialite Frederick Gallatin Cammann in 1954; the marriage lasted for barely a year. 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 latter two pregnancies were incorporated into Bewitched as Samantha's pregnancies with Tabitha (primarily Erin Murphy, with twin Diane) and Adam Stephens. In 1971, while filming the eighth season of Bewitched, she fell in love with director Richard Michaels and moved in with him after the season ended. This was another major factor in canceling plans for a ninth season. The relationship lasted for two and a half years.

She entered her fourth and final marriage to actor Robert Foxworth, on January 28, 1993, after living with him for nearly twenty years. She remained married to Foxworth until her death.[7]

Political activism

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. Montgomery had liberal political views, being an outspoken champion of women's rights and gay rights throughout her life, sharply contrasting with her conservative father, who was once a media advisor to President Dwight Eisenhower.[citation needed]

Charity work

Throughout the last year of her life, Montgomery was a volunteer for the Los Angeles Unit of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), 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 When We Were Very Young for RFB&D.

Montgomery's enthusiastic support for RFB&D sparked nationwide interest in the organization's work. Her strong support for RFB&D ultimately led her to enthusiastically agree to be the honorary chairman for its Los Angeles Unit's third annual Record-A-Thon, slated for June 3, 1995. She lent her name to all letters of appeal for the event and was planning to be one of its celebrity readers for the day.

After her death, the Los Angeles Unit of RFB&D dedicated the 1995 Record-A-Thon to Montgomery and secured 21 celebrities to assist in the reading of the book Chicken Soup for the Soul, which was also dedicated to her memory.

Illness and death

Montgomery was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the spring of 1995. She had ignored the flu-like symptoms during the filming of Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan and acted too late. Unwilling to die in a hospital, and with no hope of recovery, she elected to return to her Beverly Hills home that she shared with Foxworth. She died there, in the company of her children and husband, on May 18, 1995, eight weeks after her diagnosis.[8] Montgomery was 62 years old.

A memorial service was held on June 18, 1995, 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. Other speakers included her husband, Robert Foxworth, who read out sympathy cards from fans; her nurse; her brother, daughter and stepson. She was cremated at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.


On April 19, 1998, an event auction/sale of her clothing was held by her family to benefit the AIDS Healthcare Foundation of Los Angeles. Erin Murphy, who played Tabitha on the series, modeled the clothing that was auctioned.

In June 2005, a statue of Montgomery as Samantha Stephens was erected in Salem, Massachusetts.[9][10]

A star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame was presented in honor of Montgomery's work in television on January 4, 2008.[11] The location of the star is 6533 Hollywood Blvd.

William Clift is developing a biopic film of Montgomery starring Christina Applegate.

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1955 The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell Margaret Lansdowne
1963 Johnny Cool Darien "Dare" Guinness
Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? Mellisa Morris
1965 How to Stuff a Wild Bikini Bwana's Daughter, The Witches Witch Uncredited
1988 Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair Narrator Documentary film
1992 The Panama Deception Narrator Documentary film
Year Title Role Notes
1951–1956 Robert Montgomery Presents Various roles 27 episodes
1953–1954 Armstrong Circle Theatre Ellen Craig 2 episodes
1954–1957 Kraft Television Theatre Various roles 7 episodes
1955–1958 Studio One Various roles 3 episodes
1956 Warner Bros. Presents Laura Woodruff 1 episode
Climax! Betsy 1 episode
1958 Playhouse 90 Mary Brecker 1 episode
DuPont Show of the Month Miss Kelly 1 episode
Cimmarron City Ellen Wilson 1 episode
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Karen 1 episode
1960 The Untouchables Rusty Heller 1 episode
One Step Beyond Lillie Clarke 1 episode
1961 The Twilight Zone The Woman 1 episode
1963–1964 Burke's Law Stacy Evans
2 episodes
1964–1972 Bewitched Samantha Stephens 254 episodes
1965 The Flintstones Samantha Stephens (Voice) 1 episode
1972 The Victim Kate Wainwright Television movie
1973 Mrs. Sundance Etta Place Television movie
1974 A Case of Rape Ellen Harrod Television movie
1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden Lizzie Borden Television movie
1976 Dark Victory Katherine Merrill Television movie
1977 A Killing Affair Vikki Eaton Television movie
1978 The Awakening Land Sayward Luckett Wheeler Miniseries
1979 Jennifer: A Woman's Story Jennifer Prince Television movie
Act of Violence Catherine McSweeney Television movie
1980 Belle Starr Belle Starr Television movie
1981 When the Circus Came to Town Mary Flynn Television movie
1982 The Rules of Marriage Joan Hagen Television movie
1983 Missing Pieces Sara Scott Television movie
1984 Second Sight: A Love Story Alaxandra McKay Television movie
1985 Amos Daisy Daws Television movie
Between the Darkness and the Dawn Abigail Foster Television movie
1990 Face to Face Dr. Diana Firestone Television movie
1991 Sins of the Mother Ruth Coe Television movie
1992 With Murder in Mind Gayle Wolfer Television movie
1993 The Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story Blanche Taylor Moore Television movie
1994 The Corpse Had a Familiar Face Edna Buchanan Television movie
1995 Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan Edna Buchanan Television movie
Batman: The Animated Series Barmaid (Voice) 1 episode

Award nominations

Year Award Result Category Film or series
1961 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role The Untouchables
1966 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched
1967 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched
1968 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched
1969 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched
1970 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series Bewitched
1974 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress - Drama Series A Case of Rape
1975 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy The Legend of Lizzie Borden
1978 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series The Awakening Land
1965 Golden Globe Award Nominated Best TV Star (Female) Bewitched
1967 Nominated Best TV Star (Female) Bewitched
1969 Nominated Best TV Star (Female) Bewitched


  • Craven Street: Ben Franklin in London, a five-part radio drama (1993, narrator)
  • Beauty's Punishment (1994, narrator)
  • Beauty's Release (1994, narrator)
  • Two audio books in which Montgomery narrates the work of Anne Rice (writing as A.N. Roquelaure) are available as of 2005.


  1. "Elizabeth Montgomery Biography (1933-1995)". Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  2. Pylant, James. "The Bewitching Family Tree of Elizabeth Montgomery". Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  3. "Elizabeth Montgomery Biography". Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  4. R.E. Lee. "The Rusty Heller Story". Bob's Bewitching Daughter. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  5. Mansour, David (2005). From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 0-740-75118-2. 
  6. Cotter, Bill (1997). The Wonderful Words of Disney Television: A Complete History. Hyperion. p. 18. ISBN 0-7868-6359-5. 
  7. R. E. Lee. 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. "Elizabeth Montgomery Biography" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  8. Gliatto, Tom (1995-06-05). "That Magic Feeling". People. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  9. "History-minded not under spell of 'Bewitched' statue". Associated Press. 2005-06-18. Retrieved 2008-03-21. [dead link]
  10. "A Pictorial Tale of the 'Bewitched' statue of Salem, Massachusetts". 2005. 
  11. "Hollywood star is unveiled posthumously for TV's 'Bewitched' star Elizabeth Montgomery". Associated Press. 2008-01-05. Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 

External links

an:Elizabeth Montgomery el:Ελίζαμπεθ Μοντγκόμερυ it:Elizabeth Montgomery nl:Elizabeth Montgomery pt:Elizabeth Montgomery ro:Elizabeth Montgomery ru:Монтгомери, Элизабет fi:Elizabeth Montgomery tr:Elizabeth Montgomery