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Bewitched is an American situation comedy originally broadcast for eight seasons on ABC from 1964 to 1972, starring Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York (1964–1969), Dick Sargent (1969–1972), Agnes Moorehead and David White. It is about a witch who marries a mortal and tries to lead the life of a typical suburban housewife. Bewitched continues to be seen throughout the world in syndication and on DVD and was the longest running supernatural themed sitcom of the 1960s–1970s era.

Premise and characters

Plot summary

A young-looking witch named Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) meets and marries a mortal named Darrin Stephens (originally Dick York, later Dick Sargent). While Samantha pledges to forsake her powers and become a typical suburban housewife, her magical family disapproves of the mixed marriage and frequently interferes in the couple's lives. Episodes often begin with Darrin becoming the victim of a spell, the effects of which wreak havoc with mortals such as his boss, clients, parents, and neighbors. By the epilogue, however, Darrin and Samantha most often embrace and confound the devious elements that failed to separate them.

Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York as Samantha and Darrin Stephens, from a 1967 promo.

Most female witches in the series have names ending with the soft "-a" sound (one exception is the witch "Elspeth" who plays Tabitha's baby sitter in season 4 episode 15). Their male counterparts are known as "warlocks." The witches and warlocks are very long lived; while Samantha appears to be in her twenties, many episodes suggest she is actually hundreds of years old. To keep their society secret, witches avoid showing their powers in front of mortals other than Darrin (and sometimes, unintentionally in the presence of neighbor Mrs. Kravitz). Nevertheless, the perplexing unexplainable effects of their spells and Samantha's attempts to hide their supernatural origin from mortals drive the plot of most episodes. Witches and warlocks usually use physical gestures along with their magical spells, and sometimes spoken incantations. Most notably, Samantha often "twitches" her nose to perform a spell. Modest but effective special visual effects are accompanied by music to highlight the magic.


The series is set in an upper middle class suburb in New York Statemarker or Westport, Connecticutmarker as indicated by conflicting dialogue and car license plates throughout the series. The main setting for most scenes is the Stephenses' house at 1164 Morning Glory Circle (although in "How Green Was My Grass" house number 162 is used as a plot device). Many scenes also take place at the advertising agency in Manhattanmarker for which Darrin works.


Samantha's mother, Endora (Agnes Moorehead) is the chief antagonist. Like all witches, she never reveals her surname, indicating to Darrin that he would be unable to pronounce it. Endora loathes mortals, and disapproves of Darrin, as do many of Samantha's family. Endora refuses to even use Darrin's name, alternatively calling him "Derwood," "What's-his-name," "Darwin," "Dum-Dum," etc., all much to his annoyance. She refers to him as "Darrin" only eight times during the entire series. Many stories revolve around Endora, or another of Darrin's in-laws, using magic to undermine the union. Endora casts countless farcical spells on Darrin, but never attempts to outright destroy him. Endora's ploys to provoke a breakup always fail as their love overcomes every obstacle. When High Priestess Hepzibah expresses surprise that Darrin has withstood years of harassment from his mother-in-law, Endora can only shrug and admit, "He loves my daughter."
Agnes Moorehead as Endora.

Darrin works as an executive at the McMann and Tate advertising agency. His profit-obsessed boss Larry Tate (David White) is a regular character, but Tate's partner, Mr. McMann, appears only twice during the series. Tate's opinions turn on a dime to appease a client in an attempt to land a deal. Though he appreciates Darrin's talent and dedication, Larry, will often criticize him in front of clients, disavowing Darrin's ideas when clients seem not to like them. (Conversely, Larry will frequently try to take more credit than is due him when Darrin's ideas prove popular with a client.) Many episodes culminate in a dinner party with clients at the Stephenses' or Tates' home, and is humorously affected by magic. Samantha usually figures out a clever way to save the day, and the account. Louise Tate, Larry's wife, becomes Samantha's closest mortal friend and, like Samantha, often plays hostess to clients. The Tates have a son Jonathon (named after White's real life son), who is slightly older than Tabitha Stephens.

Across the street from Darrin and Samantha lives a retired couple, the nosy and tactless Gladys Kravitz (Alice Pearce, then Sandra Gould) and her husband Abner (George Tobias). Gladys constantly tries to prove that there's "something funny" about Samantha, only to be branded delusional by Abner. Though the Kravitzes and the Stephenses are usually friendly, in some episodes Gladys seems out to get Samantha.

Samantha's father, Maurice (Maurice Evans), is an urbane thespian much like Elizabeth Montgomery's father, Robert Montgomery. Maurice often embellishes his entrances and exits with strained Shakespearean verse. Bewitched is unique for mid-1960s sitcoms in that it portrays Endora and Maurice as an estranged married couple, their separation being implied and subtextual. Endora once introduced Maurice as “my daughter's father,” and another time Endora threatens to “move in” with Maurice. In the episode "Samantha's Good News," Endora threatens to file for an “ectoplasmic interlocutory” (i.e. divorce), only to wrangle Maurice's affection. Maurice also refers to Darrin with incorrect names, including "Duncan" and "Dustbin," with Endora going so far as to "correct" him, saying “That’s Derwood.”

Darrin's parents, the straight-laced Phyllis and laid-back Frank Stephens, visit occasionally but never learn of Samantha's supernatural powers. Phyllis (Mabel Albertson) makes inopportune surprise visits, and often complains of "a sick headache" after accidentally witnessing a spell in motion.

Samantha's far-out, egocentric lookalike cousin Serena first appears in season 2 at a hospital when Samantha gives birth to Tabitha. Serena, also played by Elizabeth Montgomery, is credited as "Pandora Spocks" (a spin on the phrase "Pandora's box") from 1969 to 1972. She is from Samantha's paternal family (episode "Mrs. Stephens, Where Are You?"). Serena is the antithesis of Samantha, sporting a heart-shaped beauty mark on her cheek, raven-black hair, and mod mini-skirts. Ever mischievous, Serena often chases after Darrin and Larry Tate (calling the white-haired Tate "Cotton-Top"), just for sport. More progressive than typical witches or warlocks, who generally abhor mortals, Samantha's counter-culture cousin occasionally dates some (including characters played by Jack Cassidy and Peter Lawford). Despite her wild behavior and frequent co-plotting with Endora, Serena ultimately supports Samantha and Darrin, even though she finds them both a bit "square."

Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde), Endora's prank-loving brother, makes several memorable appearances. Despite many practical jokes at Darrin's expense, Uncle Arthur seems to like him. In one episode, both Serena and Uncle Arthur go head-to-head with the Witch's Council to support the Stephenses' union, only to have their own powers suspended.

The only one of Samantha's relatives for whom Darrin regularly shows affection is the bumbling, absent-minded but lovable Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne). Though well-intentioned, Clara's spells usually backfire, and her entrances and exits are often a grand fumble, such as entering via a chimney or colliding with a wall. She has a collection of over a thousand doorknobs (inspired by Lorne's real-life collection). Despite her fumbling nature, when pushed hard enough, she proves that she can be as powerful as Endora in defense of her niece's marriage. The character was not recast when Lorne died toward the end of the fourth season in 1968. A similar witch, the anxiety-ridden and magically inept housekeeper Esmeralda (Alice Ghostley), is introduced as a de facto replacement for Clara in 1969.

During the series Samantha gives birth to a daughter, Tabitha (spelled Tabatha in production credits until season 5) and then a son, Adam. Both eventually prove to have supernatural powers.

A strange occurrence or condition caused by a supernatural illness is often used as a plot device. Assistance is often sought from the warlock Dr. Bombay (Bernard Fox) who is summoned by the phrase “Dr. Bombay, Dr. Bombay, emergency, come right away,” and occasionally from the unnamed witches’ apothecary (Bernie Kopell). Dr. Bombay is a womanizer who often has a buxom assistant, and constantly cracks bad jokes. The amorous old apothecary chases witches, including Esmeralda and Samantha.

Other recurring characters

  • Aunt Enchantra and Aunt Hagatha, Samantha's aunts. They occasionally ride in an antique car called "Macbeth" (sometimes driven by chauffeur Rasputin, other times operating sans driver) which enters the Stephens home through the wall. Enchantra was played by three different actresses, while Hagatha was played by five, including Reta Shaw and Ysabel MacCloskey. Starting at the end of season 4, Hagatha sometimes appears to babysit Tabitha, and later Adam.
  • The "drunk guy" (Dick Wilson) shows up in various bars, jail cells and sidewalks to witness acts of witchcraft.
  • Betty, the secretary at McMann and Tate, played by various actresses.
  • Dave (Gene Blakely), Darrin's "best friend" and a Morning Glory Circle councilman in the first two seasons.
  • Howard McMann, Larry Tate's business partner, played by Roland Winters in "Man of the Year" (139) and Leon Ames in "What Makes Darrin Run" (191).
  • Ms. Peabody, Tabitha's 2nd grade teacher (Maudie Prickett), appears in two episodes of season 8, "Tabitha's First Day of School" (248) and "School Days, School Daze" (251).

Historical, fictional, and contemporary characters

Thanks to witchcraft, a number of interesting characters were seen, including Benjamin Franklin, Franklin Pierce, George and Martha Washington, Paul Revere, Sigmund Freud, Julius Caesar, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon, King Henry VIII, Cleopatra, Santa Claus, Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk, Mother Goose, The Artful Dodger, Hansel and Gretel, The Tooth Fairy, the Loch Ness Monster, a Leprechaun, Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty, Willie Mays (playing himself), and Boyce and Hart (playing themselves).


Cast of Characters
Character Actor(s) No. of episodes
Main Characters
Samantha Stephens Elizabeth Montgomery 254
Darrin Stephens Dick York (1964–1969)
Dick Sargent (1969–1972)
Endora Agnes Moorehead 147
Larry Tate David White 166
Recurring Characters
Tabitha Stephens Cynthia Black (1966)
Heidi and Laura Gentry (1966)
Tamar and Julie Young (1966)
Diane Murphy (1966–1968)
Erin Murphy (1966–1972)

Gladys Kravitz Alice Pearce (1964–1966)
Sandra Gould (1966–1971)
Abner Kravitz George Tobias (1964–1971) 55
Louise Tate Irene Vernon (1964–1966)
Kasey Rogers (1966–1972)
Aunt Clara Marion Lorne (1964–1968) 28
Serena Elizabeth Montgomery (1966–1972)
(as "Pandora Spocks")
Adam Stephens unknown (1969–1970)
Greg and David Lawrence (1970–1972)
Phyllis Stephens Mabel Albertson (1964–1971) 19
Dr. Bombay Bernard Fox (1967–1972) 18
Esmeralda Alice Ghostley (1969–1972) 15
Frank Stephens Robert F. Simon (1964–1971)
Roy Roberts (1967–1970)
Maurice Maurice Evans (1964–1972) 12
Uncle Arthur Paul Lynde (1965–1971) 10
The series is noted for having a number of major cast changes, often due to illness or death of the actors. Most notably, the actor playing Darrin was quietly replaced mid-series. The various changes during the series, and untimely deaths of several of the regular actors in the decades following, produced a mythology that the series was cursed. However, a study of the average age of death of the actors, many of whom were past middle aged during the show, reveals no unusual pattern. However, the only surviving members of the regular cast are Bernard Fox and the actors who played the Stephens' children.

Dick York was unable to continue his role as Darrin due to a severe back condition (the result of an accident during the filming of They Came To Cordura in 1959). York's disability caused ongoing shooting delays and script rewrites. After collapsing on the set and being rushed to the hospital in January 1969, York left the show and the role went to Dick Sargent that same month.

Marion Lorne appeared in 28 episodes as Aunt Clara and won a posthumous Emmy Award in 1968. Essentially replacing this character was the similarly magic-disabled Esmeralda (Alice Ghostley) in season 6. Coincidentally, Lorne and Ghostley had appeared side by side in the hotel scene of Mike Nichols' film version of The Graduate in 1967.

Also winning a posthumous Emmy award in 1966 for her role, Alice Pearce was the first to play the character of Gladys Kravitz. After Pearce's death from ovarian cancer, Mary Grace Canfield played Harriet Kravitz, Abner's sister, in four episodes during the spring of 1966, and is said to be taking care of the Kravitz house while they are out of town. Sandra Gould assumed the role of Gladys Kravitz beginning in season 3.

Tabitha Stephens' birth in the season 2 episode "And then there were three" featured infant Cynthia Black in the role. For the remainder of the season, Tabitha was played by twins Heidi and Laura Gentry, followed by twins Tamar and Julie Young. Fraternal twin toddlers Diane and Erin Murphy were cast for the role at the beginning of season 3. In time, they began to look less alike, so Diane was dropped during season 4. Diane made several guest appearances in other roles, and filled in as Tabitha one last time in season five's "Samantha Fights City Hall," due to Erin's mumps.

Alice Ghostley (Esmeralda), Paul Lynde (Uncle Arthur), and Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay) all had guest roles during the first two seasons as mortal characters before being cast as magical regulars.


Season Rank
1) 1964-1965 # 2
2) 1965-1966 # 7
3) 1966-1967 # 8
4) 1967-1968 # 11
5) 1968-1969 # 12
6) 1969-1970 # 25
7) 1970-1971 # 34
8) 1971-1972 # 72

Two of the film antecedents for this series were the 1942 film I Married a Witch (from Thorne Smith's unfinished novel The Passionate Witch and Me), and the John Van Druten play that was eventually adapted as Bell, Book and Candle (1958).

Sol Saks, who received credit as the creator of the show, wrote the pilot of Bewitched, although he was not involved with the show after the pilot. Initially, Danny Arnold, who helped develop the style and tone of the series as well as some of the supporting characters who did not appear in the pilot, like Larry Tate and the Kravitzes, produced and headed writing of the series. Arnold, who wrote on McHale's Navy and other shows, thought of Bewitched as being essentially a romantic comedy about a mixed marriage; his episodes kept the magic element to a minimum, with one or two magical acts to drive the plot but Samantha usually solving problems without using magic. Also, many of the first season's episodes were allegorical, using supernatural situations as clear metaphors for the real-life problems a young couple would face. Arnold stated that the two main themes of the series were the conflict between a powerful woman (Samantha) and a husband who cannot deal with that power (Darrin), and the anger of the bride's mother (Endora) at seeing her daughter marry beneath her. Though the show was a hit right from the beginning, Arnold battled with ABC, which wanted more magic and more farcical plots.

Arnold left the show after the first season (he would later co-create Barney Miller with Theodore J. Flicker), leaving producing duties to his friend Jerry Davis, who had already produced some of the first season's episodes (though Arnold was still supervising the writing). The second season was produced by Davis and with Bernard Slade as head writer, with mistaken identity and farce becoming a more prevalent element, but still included a number of more low-key episodes where the magic element was not front and center.

With the third season and the switch to color, Davis left the show, and was replaced as producer by William Froug. Slade also left after the second season (he would later create another popular Screen Gems series, The Partridge Family, which, like Bewitched, went through a recasting of a role). According to William Froug's autobiography, William Asher (who had directed many episodes) wanted to take over as producer when Jerry Davis left, but the production company was not yet ready to approve the idea. Froug, a former producer of Gilligan's Island, was brought in as a compromise. By his own admission, Froug was not very familiar with Bewitched and found himself in the uncomfortable position of being the official producer even though Asher was making most of the creative decisions. After a year, Froug left the show, and Asher took over as full-time producer of the series for the rest of its run.

Along with Dick Sargent now playing Darrin, the 1969-1970 season also saw a significant decline in ratings. Viewership continued to dwindle the following season, and in the fall of 1971 ABC switched Bewitched from its Thursday 8:30 time slot to Wednesdays at 8:00. The schedule change did not help ratings as the show was now pitted against CBS's popular Carol Burnett Show. In January of 1972 the show was moved to Saturday nights at 8:00 and was now opposite the number one show on television, All In The Family. The ratings went from bad to worse, the show finishing the year in 72nd place.

Montgomery and Asher were contractually obligated to film another season of Bewitched for ABC. Despite the network's encouragement and support for the show, Montgomery did not want to continue the series, and by the summer of 1972, Bewitched left the air after eight years. That fall, Asher created The Paul Lynde Show to fulfill the contract.

Storylines repeated from I Love Lucy

In the episode "Samantha's Power Failure," Serena's and Uncle Arthur's powers are removed by the Witches' Council, and they get jobs in a confectionery factory, with Serena and Arthur tossing and hiding an onslaught of bananas from a conveyor belt which are to be dipped in chocolate and nuts, then packaged. This episode mimics the famous chocolate assembly-line episode of I Love Lucy ("Job Switching"), which was directed by Bewitched producer/director William Asher. Serena's and Arthur's jokes and physical antics are taken from Lucy's (Lucille Ball) and Ethel's (Vivian Vance) playbook.

In another episode Samantha interviews a maid, and the scene is almost identical to one in Lucy. Season 8 featured a European vacation, but was filmed in Hollywood using stock footage, like the "European" episodes of Lucy. Similar to Endora's refusal to pronounce Darrin's name correctly, Lucy's mother always referred to son-in-law Ricky with an incorrect name ("Mickey").

Timely topics

Some episodes take a backdoor approach to such topics as racism, as seen in the first season episode, "The Witches Are Out," in which Samantha objects to Darrin's demeaning ad portrayal of witches as ugly and deformed. Such stereotypical imagery often causes Endora and other witches to flee the country until November. Another episode, "Sisters at Heart" (season 7), whose story was submitted by a tenth-grade English class, involved Tabitha altering the skin tone of herself and a black friend with coordinating polka-dots, so that people would treat them alike.

Sets and locations

The 1959 Columbia Pictures Gidget movie was filmed on location at a real home in Santa Monica (at 267 18th Street). The blueprint design of this home was later reversed and replicated as a house facade attached to an existing garage on the backlot of Columbia's Ranch. This was the house seen on Bewitched. The patio and living room sets seen in Columbia's Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) were soon adapted for the permanent Bewitched set for 1964.

In June 1970, Bewitched filmed on location in Salemmarker, Magnolia and Gloucester, Massachusettsmarker. These location shoots marked the only time the show would film away from their Hollywood studio set, which was being rebuilt due to a fire. The eight so-called "Salem Saga" episodes helped the show's ratings. On June 15 2005, TV Land unveiled a Samantha statue in Salem Massachusetts, to mark the show's 40th anniversary. On hand were stars, Bernard Fox, Erin Murphy and Kasey Rogers.

On the Columbia studio backlot, the Kravitzes' house was actually down the street from the Stephenses' house exterior. Both homes' exterior doors opened to an unfinished eighteen-by-fifteen foot entry, as the interiors were shot elsewhere. The exterior of the Kravitzes' house later became the home of The Partridge Family.

In popular culture

The magical powers of the characters on the show and the sudden switch of actors playing Darrin at the start of the 1969 season without explanation have both been sources of many popular culture references to the show, such as on sitcoms like Roseanne and The Nanny.

In the episode "Trouble with the Rubbles" of Roseanne, new neighbors move in and Jackie asks Roseanne, staring attentively through the window, if she knows anything about them. Roseanne jokingly replies, "Well, okay, the husband, Darrin, he's in advertising, and they have this cute little daughter named Tabitha. But the wife, I don't know, something's wrong with her. I think she's a witch."

In the supernatural child sitcom, Wizards of Waverly Place, the principal of the title characters' prep school is named Mr. Laritate, an obvious reference to David White's character. The series has also featured a similar reference to Major Roger Healey of I Dream of Jeannie, another sitcom featuring supernatural characters.

In the That '70s Show episode, "Class Picture," one basement scene shows the characters at different ages as they debate the merits of Samantha and Jeannie. Once the characters are shown in their proper ages, Hyde comments, "Guys, it feels like we've been talking about this for a really long time."

In the "Charmed" fourth season episode, "Lost and Bound", Phoebe worries about her ability to be a good wife and notes the only married witch she can think of as a model is Samantha Stephens. Subsequently, Cole gives her a ring which causes Phoebe to start behaving like Samantha, spending all her time in the kitchen, while alternating between color and black and white.

Episode availability

Syndication history

After completing its original run, ABC Daytime and ABC Saturday Morning continued to show the series until 1973. Bewitched has since been syndicated on many local US broadcast stations. Cable television syndication had been on WTBS throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The first two seasons, which were available only in black and white at the time, were rarely seen in reruns from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, until Nick at Nite began syndication of the series in the 1990s. The Hallmark Channel aired the show from 2001 to 2003, and TV Land from 2003 to 2006. In October 2008, the show began to air in the US on WGN America. Channel 9 Australia airs the series on its digital channel GO!

On the internet, episodes can be viewed on iTunes, YouTube, IMDB, Hulu, The Minisode Network, and Crackle.

DVD releases

Beginning in 2005, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released all eight seasons of Bewitched. In regions 1 and 4, seasons 1 and 2 were each released in two versions—one as originally broadcast in black-and-white, and one colorized. Only the colorized editions were released in regions 2 and 3.

Spin-offs and remakes

Comic book

Dell Comics published a short-lived comic book for 14 issues starting in 1965. Most comics had photo covers.

Tabitha and Adam and the Clown Family

An animated cartoon made in 1972 by Hanna-Barbera Productions for The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, this featured teenage versions of Tabitha and Adam visiting their aunt and her family who travel with a circus.

See Also List of Animated Spinoffs from Prime Time Shows


In 1977, a short-lived spin-off entitled Tabitha aired on ABC. The show stars Lisa Hartman as an adult Tabitha working, along with her brother Adam, at television station KXLA. There were several continuity differences with the original series, including Adam having inherited none of his mother's abilities. Adam and Tabitha had also aged far more than the intervening years between the two series would have allowed. Supporting witch character Aunt Minerva (Karen Morrow) is said to be like a mother to Tabitha, though she had never been mentioned in Bewitched. Samantha and Darrin never appear in Tabitha, though Bernard Fox, Sandra Gould, George Tobias and Dick Wilson make guest appearances as, respectively, Dr. Bombay, Gladys Kravitz, Abner Kravitz and the "drunk guy."


Bewitched inspired a 2005 movie re-imagining starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. When Jack Wyatt (Ferrell), a failing Hollywoodmarker actor, is offered the chance of a career comeback playing Darrin in a remake of Bewitched; all he has to do is find the perfect girl to play Samantha. He finds that perfect girl in Isabel Bigelow (Kidman), who, it turns out, really is a witch. The storyline bears some similarities to that of the movie Bell, Book and Candle, which had often been cited as one of the primary inspirations for the original series. The film also stars Shirley MacLaine as an actress playing Endora, and Michael Caine as Isabel's father.

The film was poorly received by most critics and was a financial disappointment, earning $22 million less than the production cost domestically. However it earned an additional $68 million internationally. The New York Times called the film "an unmitigated disaster."

International remakes

  • Argentina — A remake called Hechizada, produced by Telefé, aired in early 2007. It starred Florencia Peña as Samantha, Gustavo Garzón as her husband, Eduardo, and Georgina Barbarrosa as Endora. This show adapted original scripts to an Argentinian context, with local humor and a contemporary setting. The show was cancelled due to low ratings after a few weeks.

  • JapanTBSmarker, a flagship station of Japan News Network, produced a remake called Okusama wa majo (奥さまは魔女), also known as Bewitched in Tokyo. Eleven episodes were broadcast on JNN stations Fridays at 10 p.m., from January 16, 2004 to March 26, 2004, and a special on December 21, 2004. The main character, Arisa Matsui, was portrayed by Ryōko Yonekura. Okusama wa majo is also the Japanese title for the original American series.

  • Russia — In 2009, TV3 broadcast a remake entitled " Моя любимая ведьма" ("My Favorite Witch"), starring Anna Zdor as Nadia (Samantha), Ivan Grishanov, as Ivan (Darrin) and Marina Esepenko as Nadia's mother. The series is very similar to the original, with most episodes based on those from the original series. American comedy writer/producer Norm Gunzenhauser oversaw the writing and directing of the series.

  • United Kingdom — In 2008, the BBC made a pilot episode of a British version, with Sheridan Smith as Samantha, Tom Price as Darrin, and veteran actress Frances de la Tour as Endora. A series has not yet been commissioned.

See also

Further reading

External links

Similar supernatural television series of the era

Contemporary supernatural television shows


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