In the midst of the turbulent sixties, viewers turned to their televisions to escape the unrest and the violence around them. There were a lot of escapism shows like “The Munsters” and “I Dream of Jeannie,” but one of the most endearing was “Bewitched.” For eight years, the world watched the antics of the Stephens family. Darrin Stephens fell in love and married Samantha. Viewers could sit back and laugh as Darrin tried to deal with his wife’s kooky family. I think that the term meddling mother in law came in to vogue with this show. Darrin’s mother in law really was a witch. She was played brilliantly by the late , classic actress Agnes Morehead. The great Shakespearean actor Maurice Evans played , Maurice. A show way ahead of it’s time, Bewitched had some of the most colorful and flamboyant characters. Paul Lynde played the flamboyant Uncle Arthur. Miss Montgomery , herself was cast in the double role of Samantha and her trouble making , man hungry cousin, Serena. She used the pseudonym Pandora Spocks for Serena. Marion Lorne was the eccentric Aunt Clara, who sadly passed away in the course of the series. Who could also never forget Larry Tate? Why Bewitched was the original Mad Men! Darrin worked at McMahon and Tate and most of his advertising ideas were a result of Sam and her crazy family. Does this mean Don Draper could have used Sam’s ideas? Hmmm I remember Bewitched because we were to visit Salem Mass in the summer of 1970 when the show was to film there. But due to technical difficulties, we never got there until cast and crew had left. But it was exciting to drive around town and then look for the sites when Bewitched premiered that fall. All of the signs had previously had the stereotypical witch on them. Now they had the lovely image of Samantha on them.
Bewitched is a wonderful example of a show that is never dated. Yes, it is true that some of the clothes come from the psychedelic sixties. It was also a time when color was new to television. In fact, the first seasons of the show were shot in black and white. You can actually watch online Elizabeth Montgomery urging viewers to stay turn for Bewitched now in color. Eager to show off this new medium, costumers and set designers utilized bright colors for television. Bewitched could also be a show that was ahead of its time with it s messages about prejudice Yes they were mortals , but the witches made fun of them. And this was very timely in the time of the civil rights movement. There was actually an episode that addressed this topic that was called “Sisters at Heart.” In it the Stevens had their daughter have a black friend, and Tabitha couldn’t understand why not everyone liked her friend. She wants to be sisters with her new friend and a lady says that she can’t because she isn’t the same color. Poof! Tabitha becomes black. Now that is timely. The show wasn’t just entertaining, but also it’s own morality play. So if you want to celebrate Halloween in a comical, rather than scary way, rent or down load some episodes of Bewitched.
Classical actress, Agnes Morehead played the irrepressible Endora. Coincidentally many actors on the show were gay , including Miss Morehead, Maurice Evans, who played Sam’s father, Paul Lynde as Uncle Arthur , and finally Dick Sargent playing heterosexual husband , Darrin.