I know I've done this before, but it's much nicer to remember April 15th as Elizabeth Montgomery's birthday rather than your taxes are due (although this year we get a couple of days reprieve). She would have been 84 today.
I know this because I have had a
crush on Elizabeth Montgomery for &^%# years (gee, something must
have gone wrong. The number didn’t print.) Let’s just say since
BEWITCHED. There were a lot of TV actresses who were hot back then.
But Samantha Stephens was the only one I wanted to marry.
And not just because she could turn my math teacher into a Chia Pet.
Sam truly was adorable. And funny in that unassuming way you rarely
see in witches and genies.
Plus... guys, back me on this – how sexy was that nose twitch? It’s like, if she could do that, what else could she do?
I became a weekend disc jockey at KERN in Bakersfield I turned my love
for Liz into a running bit. The KERN Top 30 survey distributed at
record stores featured Ms. Montgomery on the cover every week. That’s
what they get for having me design it.
In the early 70s when my
partner David and I were writing spec scripts David worked in the film
department of ABC. Elizabeth Montgomery starred in a Movie of Week as
David called and said “get your ass down here!” Turns out for
European release there was a nude scene. I practically drove on
sidewalks to get to the studio where we screened then re-screened (and
re-screened again) the scene in question. Ohmygod! Samantha
Stephens, naked, blood all over her, holding an ax. Be still my heart!
only saw her in person one time. And I never actually met her. It was
about ten years later. There was a restaurant in Santa Monica called
the Maryland Crab House, which featured the whole Chesapeake crab
experience – butcher paper, a pile of spiced crabs on the table, wooden
mallets, buckets. Liz and her husband Robert Foxworth came in and sat
right across from me. Ironically, I would direct Robert years later on
LATELINE. (He’s the one I
thought should run for the senate). So picture this. The goddess I’ve
adored forever… chomping on crabs, ripping them apart, contorting her
face, sucking claws, swilling beer, juice running down her arm. And I
was STILL ENTRANCED.
Anyone I’ve ever talked to who worked with
her said she was a dream. Professional and kind and giving as an
actress. She made everyone on the set feel comfortable from fellow
actors to the lowliest crew member.
Most of her work was in
television although she did a few movies, most of them forgettable like
one with Dean Martin and a cameo in HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI. But if
find JOHNNY COOL with Telly Savalas, that’s a good B-movie pot boiler.
I imagine some of her TV movies survive. If so, A CASE OF RAPE shows
just how good a dramatic actress she was. And her episode of THE
TWILIGHT ZONE was killer. For sheer camp check out A KILLING AFFAIR in
which she has an interracial affair with O.J. Simpson.
outspoken against the Vietnam War when that was not a popular position.
She was a volunteer for the Los Angeles Unit of Recording for the
Blind & Dyslexic, a non-profit organization which records
educational books for disabled people.
Elizabeth Montgomery was only 62 when she passed away. But she’ll remain forever young, forever Bewitching, and generation after generation will continue to fall under her magic spell.