Thursday, August 19, 2010

We Salute Classic TV Icon Elizabeth Montgomery

Classic TV icon Elizabeth Montgomery is best known as "Samantha Stephens," the "witch-with-a-twitch" on ABC's long-running "Bewitched" TV series (1963-1972), which remains immortal in syndicated rereuns, and in an astoundingly-successful DVD release.

The core appeal of Bewitched rested with its star, who went on to appear in some of the most popular TV-movies ever made, including the ground-breaking "A Case of Rape" (which has become one of the Top Ten highest-rated TV-movies of All-Time) and "The Legend of Lizzie Borden."

Before and after "Bewitched," Montgomery made her presence known - on the big-screen and small, in live starge performances, and in live appearances around the world.

But what exactly is it about Elizabeth Montgomery's super popularity?

The Classic TV Preservation Society recently conducted a poll of its Facebook members, and asked them to explain Montgomery's special "magic" appeal.

Below is some of what they said (and please feel free to add your thoughts in the Commentary section).

Greg Ehrbar wrote:

"She was not only a dream woman to those of us who grew up loving her, she was also one the best actresses of the era. She made Samantha Stephens look so easy you could forget that she was playing a role. This may sound dumb, but I often forget that Samantha and Serena were the same person, even though I know it -- know what I mean? When Ms. M appeared on Password, her personality seemed to be a combination of both. And yet when she did dramatic roles, there was yet another dimension not present in the comedic characters. A superb artist and, as Samantha, truly magical."

Neil J. Weiner wrote:

"First real crush!"

Alice Miolée wrote:

"Elizabeth Montgomery and Bewitched are a part of my childhood, my adulthood and that of my children. She had inward and outward beauty, sparkling eyes and a beautiful voice. Her range of dramatic talent knew no bounds. Samantha...a rape victim...a murderess. My current profile pic as taken in Salem. A special, unique, loved and irreplaceable person receives a bronze statue in her most beloved, memorable and 'bewitching' role."

Todd Selsky wrote:

"I always thought of her as a little mysterious. I felt like we never knew much about the real Elizabeth. Sad that she died of cancer at 62. Aside from "Bewitched" I'll always remember her in "The Legend of Lizzy Borden." I was about 11 or 12 when I saw it."

Judith Evers wrote:

"I really liked Bewitched a lot. But I thought Ms. Montgomery did some wonderful work in all of her movies and not just playing the roll of Samantha Stevens. She was one fantastic talent and we lost her much too soon."

Pauline Martindale wrote:

"She is my favorite ever actress! I love her movies and can't wait to see the Samantha Statue in December! And she is a great role model for women and very classy and refined!"

Melissa Byers wrote:

"I've always loved Elizabeth. When I was a kid, I made my own 'witch book' with pictures and articles about Bewitched. I still have it! I watched everything else I could find with Elizabeth in it, as well. She was a woman of talent and great class."

Ray Caspio wrote:

"Bewitched was the first TV show I ever remember watching. It was on a small color television at my grandma's house when I was probably three years old, if that. I was a very precocious kid so it was used to keep me out of everyone's hair. The animated opening sequence combined with the music transfixed me (and I'm still mad the theme from the syndicated episodes wasn't used on the DVD!) and when Elizabeth appeared on the screen, she did the same. I don't know...there was something very accessible, yet private about her, even in that series. I sensed it from an early age. She managed to maintain an air of mystery while portraying such an endearing character. You could tell there was something much deeper going on within her, which is true of all good actors. They're much more than what they present on the surface. Those secrets are part of their charisma. You have to be really good to flesh out a character that's written for a sitcom, in order to present a full person. She did that. Elizabeth, as Samantha, represented possibility to me. Anything I wanted, I could have if I worked for it. She had the abilities to have whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, but she wasn't satisfied with that. Her power was in herself. I wish that would have been more evident in the writing, but hey, it was the '60s and a character like Samantha was a bit revolutionary. I would have ditched the whole 'giving up powers to fit in' mentality...perhaps if it was written today? There are just so many happy thoughts I get whenever I read her name or see her on television. Like Lindsay Wagner's Jaime Sommers or Lynda Carter's Diana Prince, Samantha Stephens influenced me greatly. I learned so much about being a good person from all of them. I also learned that we don't always succeed, but we can always try. Beyond Bewitched, I remember some of Elizabeth's television movies where she really got to shine. I recently watched A Case of Rape and Lizzie Borden. Phenomenal. I'm glad these movies gave her the chance to really delve into what she could give as an actor and a person. In Lizzie Borden, I sympathized with her. She played her, phenomenally, as a person, not as a murderer. Her performance in A Case of Rape is spectacular. I'll cut it off before I ramble too much. As a child, she taught me it was OK to be different. As an adult, through her work, she has given me valuable acting lessons about individual truth and being present. And she stood up for equality for LGBT people. An all around fascinating, empowering, endearing, beautiful, charming, intelligent, well-spoken, mysterious, compassionate, complicated, and complex woman. I wish more of her work was available to the masses."

Vince Staskel wrote:

"I loved watching Elizabeth Montgomery on BEWITCHED. She had such a wonderful way to draw you into her character. You knew right from the start that she was a "good witch" who only wanted to do positive things for people. Samantha has a great deal of power but only used it sparingly for only good purposes. To me spiritually it showed the existance of true love in the world. I followed her career and saw the full range of her acting ability. Yes Ms. Montgomery could also play 'bad' excellently. As her fan who grew so did she as an actor. I was captivated by her. BEWITCHED was and still is a major part of my life experience. As a youngster television was a big part of my life and BEWITCHED was one of my favorite shows. I followed the career of Elizabeth Montgomery and was thrilled to see her starring in her own sitcom. Of course her beauty is one one the first things that catches your eye. But in addition to that her acting versatility"

Steve Randisi wrote:

"If I had to describe Elizabeth Montgomery in one word it would have to be wholesomeness. Beauty aside, she was a remarkably gifted actress who made the impossible seem possible. When she twitched her nose to make magic happen, you actuall...y believed it would happen. Her Samantha was the type of person you'd want for a friend -- kind, understanding, non-judgmental. Yet, she was capable of being firm if and when the situation warranted it. In later years, I found out that Elizabeth was an activist for many causes that I support. Like all spiritual teachers (and I do believe she was one) she left us way too soon."

David Raymond Morris wrote:

"Elizabeth had a combination of grace, beauty, down to Earth charm and sincerity. Much of the success of Bewitched had to do with that critical likabilty factor which she had big time. Her gentle, loyal demeanor played off perfectly against Darrin's caustic and often reactionary behavior. Elizabeth proved beyond that series however that she could also do gritty or unusual roles such as Lizzy Borden or A Case of Rape, which surprised many people who had typecast her in thieir mind as Samantha Stephens. I must confess personally that Liz will always be Samantha to me, she seemed to BE Samantha."

1 comment:

Mel said...

Liz Montgomery was on a complete different level than your average human being. Seriously. Anyone who is spiritual can sense her true power. Believe me when I say.. She had a special spiritual thing going on with her. I don't think she even realized...