Montgomery, Elizabeth (1933–1995)
Montgomery, Elizabeth (1933–1995)
American television actress. Born on April 15, 1933, in Los Angeles, California; died of colon cancer on May 18, 1995, in Beverly Hills, California; daughter of Robert Montgomery (an actor) and Elizabeth (Allen) Bryan Montgomery (an actress known as Elizabeth Allen); attended Westlake School for Girls, Los Angeles; attended the Spence School, New York City; studied acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York City; married Frederick Gallatin Cammann, in 1954 (divorced 1955); married Gig Young (an actor), in 1957 (divorced 1963); married William Asher (a producer), in 1963 (divorced 1974); married Robert Foxworth (an actor), in 1993; children: (third marriage) William, Jr.; Robert; Rebecca.
Selected television roles:
series: "Robert Montgomery Presents" (NBC, 1953–54, 1956), "Bewitched" (ABC, 1964–1972); movies: "The Victim" (ABC, 1972), "Mrs. Sundance" (ABC, 1974), "A Case of Rape" (NBC, 1974), "The Legend of Lizzie Borden" (ABC, 1975), "Dark Victory" (NBC, 1976), "A Killing Affair" (CBS, 1977), "Jennifer: A Woman's Story" (NBC, 1979), "An Act of Violence" (CBS, 1979), "Belle Starr" (CBS, 1980), "When the Circus Came to Town" (CBS, 1981), "The Rules of Marriage" (CBS, 1982), "Second Sight: A Love Story" (CBS, 1984), "Between the Darkness and the Dawn" (NBC, 1985), "Amos" (CBS, 1985), "Sins of the Mother" (CBS, 1991), "With Murder in Mind" (also known as "With Savage Intent," CBS, 1992), "Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story" (NBC, 1993), "The Corpse Had a Familiar Face" (CBS, 1994), "Deadline for Murder" (CBS, 1995); miniseries: "The Awakening Land" (NBC, 1978); television pilots: "The Boston Terrier" (ABC, 1963), "Missing Pieces" (CBS, 1983); episodic: "Robert Montgomery Presents" (NBC, 1951), "Armstrong
Circle Theatre" (NBC, 1953, 1954), "Kraft Theatre" (NBC, 1954, 1955, 1957), "Studio One" (CBS, 1955, 1958), "Appointment with Adventure" (CBS, 1955), "Warner Bros. Presents" (ABC, 1956), "Climax" (CBS, 1956), "Suspicion" (NBC, 1958), "DuPont Show of the Month" (CBS, 1958), "Cimarron City" (NBC, 1958), "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS, 1958), "Loretta Young Show" (NBC, 1959), "Riverboat" (NBC, 1959), "Johnny Staccato" (NBC, 1959), "Wagon Train" (NBC, 1959), "National Velvet" (NBC, 1960), "Tab Hunter Show" (NBC, 1960), "Alcoa Presents One Step Beyond" (ABC, 1960), "The Untouchables" (ABC, 1960), "Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1961), "Theatre '62" (NBC, 1961), "Thriller" (NBC, 1961), "Frontier Circus" (CBS, 1961), "Checkmate" (CBS, 1962), "Alcoa Premiere" (ABC, 1962), "Saints and Sinners" (NBC, 1963), "Burke's Law" (ABC, 1963, 1964), "Rawhide" (CBS, 1963), "77 Sunset Strip" (ABC, 1963), "Eleventh Hour" (NBC, 1963), "The Flintstones" (voice only, ABC, 1965), "Hallmark Hall of Fame" (CBS, 1990).
The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955); Johnny Cool (1963); Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1964); (narrator) Coverup: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair (1988); (narrator) The Panama Deception (1992).
Daniel Blum Theatre World Award (1954); Emmy award nomination, Best Actress in a Single Performance, for "The Rusty Heller Story" on "The Untouchables" (1961); Emmy award nominations, Best Actress in a Comedy Series, all for "Bewitched" (1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970); Emmy award nomination, Best Actress in a Drama Special, for "A Case of Rape" (1974); Emmy award nomination, Best Actress in a Drama or Comedy Special, for "The Legend of Lizzie Borden" (1975); Emmy award nomination, Best Actress in a Limited Series, for "The Awakening Land" (1978).
Elizabeth Montgomery was born on April 15, 1933, in Los Angeles, California, one of two children of actor Robert Montgomery and stage actress Elizabeth Allen . Montgomery grew up in a mansion in Beverly Hills and attended the Westlake School for Girls, where at age five she made her first stage appearance, as the wolf in a French-language production of Little Red Riding Hood. After her parents divorced in 1950, Montgomery moved to New York City with her father, and attended the elite Spence School before enrolling at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She made her television debut in a 1951 episode of her father's NBC series "Robert Montgomery Presents," and had several stageroles as ingenues, notably in the 1953 production Late Love, for which she received Theatre World's Daniel Blum Award for most promising newcomer. By 1953, Montgomery had embarked on a solid television career that would continue for the rest of her life.
In 1954, Montgomery married New Yorker Frederick Gallatin Cammann, who was promptly expelled from the Social Register for marrying an actress. The marriage lasted only a year, ending without acrimony when Montgomery decided she needed to work in Hollywood to further her career. She was married to actor Gig Young from 1957 to 1963, the same year she met producer William Asher on the set of Johnny Cool. After their marriage later that year, Montgomery wanted to quit acting in favor of raising a family, but Asher felt this would be a waste of her talent. As a compromise, he secured her the television series "Bewitched," the production schedule of which was adjusted to accommodate her three pregnancies.
A huge success, "Bewitched" aired on ABC from 1964 to 1972, starring Montgomery as Samantha Stephens, a suburban housewife who happens to be a witch. Her husband, a hapless mortal named Darrin (played by Dick York, then by Dick Sargent), is tormented by his mother-in-law Endora (played by Agnes Moorehead ) and sputters ineffectually as Samantha casts spells with a twitch of her nose. The series was the number one show for four of its eight years, and was ABC's highest rated halfhour prime-time series before the arrival of "Happy Days"; it also garnered Montgomery five of her nine Emmy nominations, and made her a great favorite with television audiences. It has gone on to become a staple of late-night and cable television, earning Montgomery, who owned 20% of the show, millions in the process.
She continued to work regularly in television after "Bewitched" ended, appearing in 19 made-for-television movies over the next two decades. Notable among these are "A Case of Rape" (1974) and "The Legend of Lizzie Borden " (1975), both of which earned her Emmy nominations (although she was nominated nine times, she never received an Emmy). "She always chose roles that challenged her and surprised the audience," her last husband Robert Foxworth told People Weekly in 1995. A very private person, Montgomery rarely divulged personal information, and declined to be interviewed during the last 20 years of her life; indeed, her 1993 marriage to Foxworth, with whom she had lived since the year after her amicable 1974 divorce from Asher, was not disclosed to the public until after her death. Montgomery rarely made show business-related appearances, but regularly used her celebrity to benefit favorite causes, such as the AIDS Project Los Angeles and AmFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. She also provided the narrations for Barbara Trent 's documentaries examining certain incidents from the Reagan-Bush administration, Coverup: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair (1988) and The Panama Deception (1992), which won an Oscar. Shortly after she completed filming the television version of reporter Edna Buchanan 's "Deadline for Murder" (1995), Montgomery was diagnosed with colon cancer. She died eight weeks later at her Beverly Hills home, on May 18, 1995.
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television. Vol. 3. Ed. by Monica M. O'Donnell. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1986.
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television. Vol. 14. Ed. by Terrie M. Rooney. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1996.
People Weekly. June 5, 1995.
Ellen Dennis French , freelance writer, Murrieta, California