Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery
Herbie J Pilato
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Based on author Herbie J Pilato’s exclusive interviews with Elizabeth Montgomery prior to her death in 1995, Twitch Upon a Star includes insider material and commentary from several individuals associated with her remarkable life and career before, during, and after Bewitched, including her classic feature films The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955), Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed? (1963), and Johnny Cool (1963).
Two of Montgomery’s many popular TV movies, A Case of Rape (which remains one of the highest-rated TV-movies of all time) and The Legend of Lizzie Borden (which will soon be remade as a feature film), were groundbreaking and remain classics. But Twitch Upon a Star also goes behind the scenes to explore Montgomery’s political activism, including her early advocacy for AIDS sufferers and the peace movement; her support for all minorities, including the gay community and the disabled; and her controversial participation as narrator of the1988 feature film documentary Cover-Up and its 1991 Oscar-winning sequel, The Panama Deception (both of which chronicled the Iran/Contra scandal of the 1980s). The book also explores Montgomery's tumultuous relationships with her father, screen legend Robert Montgomery (she was a liberal; he was a staunch conservative), and her four husbands (including actor Gig Young, who later died in a murder/suicide). Through it all—and to family and friends such as fellow performers Ronny Cox, Sally Kemp, and Florence Henderson—she was just Lizzie: down-to-earth and unaffected, just like Samantha, the "witch-with-a-twitch" Stephens, her most famous role.
Although June did not appear with Lizzie in any episodes of Presents, she recalls: I used to watch her work. And I remember seeing her once in rehearsal. She was very professional, and her reputation for always doing live TV was legendary. And the directors that I worked with, who had also worked with her, said she was just a joy and lots of fun. And that was my experience with her when I did Bewitched. Both she and Bill Asher were fun to work with. We shot the episode at the Rancho Golf Course
having invited Bewitched actor David White to join us. He and Elizabeth had not seen one another since the series ended in 1972. At the time, that was approximately eighteen years. Portions of their individual and interlocking commentary from that day, all never before published, now appear in this book. Who would have thought that Elizabeth and David, along with so many other Bewitched luminaries, Dick York, Dick Sargent, Harry Ackerman, Alice Ghostley (who portrayed Samantha’s bubbling witch
York City Center. He wasn’t as impressed with Dalrymple as he was with Lizzie. So, he leapt at the opportunity to be near the future Bewitched star. The Moon revival didn’t spark any interest, but his romance with Lizzie was set afire. Charismatic and confident, her charms were evident wherever she went. As author Eells uncovered in his book on Young, the actor found Lizzie alluring but somewhat intimidating. But she helped to fill a void and loosened him up socially. At times they were like two
Elvis reportedly had a measure of envy. While Asher claimed in 2003, for an interview with Terry and Tiffany DuFoe (today of www.cultradioagogo.com), that such was not the case, because he ‘‘didn’t know Elvis,’’ he did have one issue with him. Apparently, Elvis was supposed to have starred in one of Bill’s films. ‘‘It was a pretty good story,’’ Asher recalled, ‘‘and he had agreed to do it.’’ The motion picture would have apparently given the singing sensation the opportunity to play a ‘‘heavy,’’
replace her—well, then you better do one hell of a good job.’’ More than twenty years after that exchange, I make an earnest attempt to do just that with this book, which could be described as part biography, part media history guide, part psychology book, part mystic primer, part political dossier, all trustingly compelling. But Lizzie placed high expectations on biographies, in particular, referring here to the one-page actor profiles that publicists for the studios and networks put together to