Submitted by: Windjammer

from The Advocate
By Robrt Pela

July 30, 1992

A certain crest portrays a woman in a Grecian robe standing on an ocean wave, an anchor in one hand and a man's head in the other. The crest is inscribed with the motto "Garde Bieh." Montgomery adheres to this credo, keeping her private life well guarded and taking care in her dealings with the press. "I grew up in Hollywood," Montgomery observes, "so I've seen what kind of damage loose talk can do."

Her father, the late actor Robert Montgomery, discouraged her from pursuing a career in acting, but after attending the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, she made her debut in 1951 on her father's television show, Robert Montgomery Presents. Her first theater review, for her work in an off-Broadway production of Late Love in 1953, mentioned her "perky nose and two perky buzzooms."

She married twice (to casting agent Fred Cammann and then to actor Gig Young) and worked steadily in movies throughout the '50s. She had stacked up nearly 200 television appearances by the time she met director William Asher in 1963. They married that same year and began shopping for a project on which they could both work. Bewitched debuted in 1964, ran for eight seasons, and made Montgomery a star.

She received five Emmy nominations for her work on the show, a suburban sitcom about a 300-year-old witch who stifles her sorcery to please her neurotic, mortal husband. Asher directed his wife in more than half of the show's 254 episodes. They had two sons and divorced in 1974. HB Editor's Note: They also had a daughter, Rebecca.

Montgomery has had starring roles in numerous television movies since Bewitched left the air in 1972, including her memorable portrayal of the infamous ax-wielding heroine of The Legend of Lizzie Borden in 1974. She met actor Robert Foxworth on the set of Mrs. Sundance that year; they've lived together ever since and occasionally work together, most recently in the 1992 drama, With Murder in Mind.

Montgomery in the 1990s

A longtime supporter of gay causes, Montgomery publicly championed the decision of her friend and Bewitched costar Dick Sargent to come out late last year. "In or out of the closet, I love him," she told The ADVOCATE at the time. On June 28 she and Sargent acted as co-grand marshals of Los Angeles's gay-pride parade.

ADVOCATE: You don't usually do interviews. Why not?

"I have had a couple of run-ins with magazines where the reporters were wildly insensitive and were not very nice. Like People magazine. I think they treat people badly. I never do interviews with people like that."

ADVOCATE: Dick Sargent was outed in an article in the Star.

"That nasty magazine. He's such a wonderful guy, and they treated him horribly. I find that appalling. I wish there was some way I could get to people and say, "Please, if you want to read that kind of nonsense, read it in the grocery store. But don't buy it." Outing Dick was a cruel thing to do, but the end result was OK."

ADVOCATE: Did you always know he is gay?

"From the minute I met him. We didn't talk about it for some time.. and it was never this big conversation. I decided that it was his business, and I wasn't about to intrude or give my opinion. Sometimes, that's what being a friend is all about."

Montgomery and Sargent Were Married on Bewitched

ADVOCATE: Do you think it is easier for actors to come out today?

"I really don't think so. I think it's going to be a long, tedious process. There's still a lot of prejudice out there and a lot of fear and ignorance. It's sad. Add hypocrisy to that list: Hollywood is practically run by gays. Hypocrisy and homophobia aren't only in Hollywood. But in this town, everything is based on earning money. If you are trying to make films or television for the public, there are people out there who are going to say, "I'm not going to see that film if it's got a faggot in it." That's so awful. I wonder sometimes, what if people had heard Rock Hudson or Brad Davis was gay before he died? How would it have affected their careers? What if it hadn't? That would have been great. But their fear kept them from finding out."

ADVOCATE: How do you feel about outing?

People who are open about their homosexuality, who handle being gay better than others, seem to be the ones who are very gung ho about outing people, no matter who it hurts. They think, "Well, I've done it, and others can and should. That annoys me because I think you have to consider the person and their circumstances. I know people in this town that it would be interesting if somebody were to out them."

ADVOCATE: Interesting how?

"Because I think once they were outed, they would be a lot more valuable to society and themselves..."

ADVOCATE: And gay people.

"Exactly. They would be more productive on gay issues than they're being right now. But I bump up against the whole privacy thing, and that's where outing bothers me. I don't know that I have much objectivity there, because I am such a private person myself. Ultimately, I think it isn't anybody's business what anyone else does."

ADVOCATE: If one of your sons told you he is gay, would you support him in coming out?

"I'd probably recommend it. I'd want to know why he wouldn't want to, just as I would with anyone else. With so many of our close friends being gay, the support system would be there."

ADVOCATE: You grew up in Hollywood, where your father must have worked and socialized with a number of gay people. At what point were you first aware of homosexuals?

"I can't even remember. Gay people have always been part of my life. They've just always been there. I mean, I met. Noel Coward when I was 5 years old. I remember sitting on the piano bench between Mr. Coward and my grandmother and singing along with them."

ADVOCATE: Tell me a Coward story.

"Daddy was doing the film version of Private Lives, playing the role that Mr. Coward originated in his play. Daddy was having dinner at Sardi's one night, and in walked Noel Coward. And he screamed across the restaurant at Daddy, "Hello, gorgeous!" and went up and kissed him full on the mouth. People were cheering. I grew up with that kind of thing."

ADVOCATE: Dan Quayle recently bashed Murphy Brown for having a child out of wedlock. But in the '60's on Bewitched, Agnes Moorehead was occasionally shown smoking something out of a hookah. I don't recall Hubert Humphrey issuing proclamations about Endora.

"The vice president then was brighter than the one we have now. Dan Quayle is like Mr. Potato Head. When I first heard about all this Murphy Brown mess, I said, "Oh, the poor fellow. He just doesn't realize that Murphy Brown is a fictional character." But I wasn't surprised. He's trying to get the spotlight, and I wish him well."

ADVOCATE: Where do you think Quayle's press agents are?

"They're ironing his pants. You know, we can sit here and giggle about Dan Quayle, but it's really scary that a person like that is in a position of power. His whole thing about family values...I'm not quite sure where all that's coming from. Family values apply whether you're gay or straight."

ADVOCATE: After all these years, are you tired of talking about Bewitched?

"I know this sounds disgustingly Pollyanna, but working on Bewitched was like being in college for eight years and learning about what I really loved and really wanted to do. How the hell could I not want to discuss it?

We had an incredible cast: Agnes Moorehead, Marion Lorne, Maurice Evans, Paul Lynde...just an incredible group of people. I had a grand old time. I will admit to one thing: I did get a little tired of Samantha being sweet and adorable all the time. That's why I invented Serena."

ADVOCATE: Samantha's groovy twin cousin.

"Yes. Paul Lynde never liked Serena. When I worked with him as Samantha, we got along just great. The minute Serena walked on that set, it was like competition. I asked him once, "Is it her wild wardrobe? You can borrow it any Saturday night!"

Lynde Got his Chance to Camp It up by Playing
the Evil Queen on Storybook Squares

ADVOCATE: Bewitched is sort of a gay allegory: the story of a different person in this case, a witch who's being told that she can't tell anyone who or what she really is. It's the ultimate closet story.

"Don't think that didn't enter our minds at the time. We talked about it on the set certainly not in production meetings that this was about people not being allowed to be what they really are. If you think about it, Bewitched is about repression in general and all the frustration and trouble it can cause. It was a neat message to get across to people at that time in a subtle way."

ADVOCATE: You worked with a number of gay people on Bewitched. Can you talk about the rumors that Agnes Moorehead was a lesbian?

"I've heard the rumors, but I never talked with her about them. I don't know if they were true: It was never anything she felt free enough to talk to me about. I wish, one way or another, that Agnes had felt she could trust me. It would have been nice. She was a very closed person in many ways. We were very fond of one another; but it never got personal."

ADVOCATE: You're sort of a gay icon.

"I am? I have absolutely no idea why. Don't you have to be a hundred years old to be an icon?"

ADVOCATE: Well, you haven't graduated to the point where drag queens are impersonating you.

"Well, how would they dress? Although Harvey Fierstein told me once that he used to do Lizzie Borden in his act."

ADVOCATE: Would you play a lesbian in a film?

"Absolutely. I think it might be very interesting. It's been discussed. Nothing specific, but I've been asked if I'd be interested in playing that kind of role."

ADVOCATE: Are you concerned that your involvement in the gay-pride parade will lead people to believe you're a lesbian?

"[Laughing] I'm really not worried about that. There are bigger things to worry about. Like the presidential election and finding a cure for AIDS. I did the parade in support of Dick. I mean, in the end, didn't we all?"