Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery was born to actors Elizabeth Bryan Allen and Robert Montgomery on April 15, 1933. The Montgomery's first baby, Martha Bryan Montgomery, was born on October 13, 1930, but died in 1931. On January 6, 1936, the Montgomery family welcomed a son named Robert (Skip) Montgomery, Jr. whom Elizabeth grew up with at the family homes in California and New York state.
Robert Montgomery and Elizabeth Allen circa 1933
Skip and Lizzie Montgomery in the Late 1930s
Liz, as she preferred to be called, started her life in Beverly Hills, CA. She wanted to be an actress from the age of 5, and would often play out scenes with her brother to entertain her parents. Liz's acting debut was when she appeared in a French version of Little Red Riding Hood playing the wolf in a school production. She enjoyed sports and was an equestrian from an early age.
Liz Riding a Horse As a Toddler
Perhaps one inspiration for her future role of Serena on Bewitched was Liz's cousin Panda. As children, the two would frequently fool the adults by switching places and carrying on conversations as if they were the other cousin. Panda would frequently get into trouble and Liz would take the rap for it. Years later on Bewitched, Samantha's wild cousin Serena was up to the same tricks. This may be one reason that Liz took the stage name of Pandora Spocks when playing Serena. Although the play on words with the Pandora's Box mythological tale was the most obvious reason according to Herbie J Pilato in The Bewitched Book: The Cosmic Companion to TV's Most Magical Supernatural Situation Comedy.
Liz's parents were both well known in the entertainment industry and their prominence and wealth afforded her an excellent education. She attended the Westlake School for Girls in Beverly Hills, and the Spence School and American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York. Most of Liz's school vacations were spent in England where her father produced films.
In 1950, Liz's parents divorced and she stayed with her mother and Skip. In 1951, after three years of intensive training at the Academy, Liz got her first acting role on her father's show, Robert Montgomery Presents, where she played his daughter. While this role was certainly no stretch from her daily life, she endured the performance pressure and did a great job on the set. At just 18 years old, she decided to move in with her father and his new wife and seriously pursue her acting career. By 1953, Liz was offered a role on Broadway in a show called Late Love in which Liz won the "Daniel Blum's World Theatre Award" for Best Newcomer of 1953.
Liz Featured in Magazine Articles from 1953 and 1954
On March the 27th, 1954, at St. James Church in New York, Liz married a wealthy New Yorker from a socially prominent family named Fred Cammann. The marriage wasn't a happy one and they divorced the following year. Some insight into this part of Liz's life is chronicled in Dominick Dunne's book The Way We Lived Then as the Cammanns lived in the same apartment building as the Dunnes during their short marriage.
The Father and the Bride in 1954
In the summer of 1955, Liz made her first feature film called The Court Martial Of Billy Mitchell. This is where she met actor Gig Young. Liz started to seriously date Young after her divorce from Cammann was final. After 17 months of courtship, she married Young on December 28, 1956. Young was 20 years older than Liz and he was a successful actor in his own right. Despite his success, he frequently drank and was linked romantically with other women, which took its toll on the marriage. Fortunately, the marriage ended before the couple had started a family. Throughout this marriage Liz continued to work and had more than 200 live TV shows to her credit.
The Cammanns and The Youngs in Happier Times
In the fall of 1962, while Liz was working on the the feature film Johnny Cool, she met director Bill Asher, who had achieved fame for his work on the I Love Lucy show. In January 1963, Liz went to Mexico City and filed for a divorce. While filming Johnny Cool, Liz and Bill started to date and they fell in love with each other.
In the summer of 1963, Liz made her another feature film called Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed with Dean Martin. On October 26th of that year, Liz and Asher married in a small private ceremony. The newlyweds had decided that working on a project together, instead of Liz staying home to raise a family, would be their route. In that same Fall, Liz and Asher were offered the Bewitched TV series when they went to ABC to discuss a project they were developing called The Fun Couple in which an obscenely wealthy girl is married to a gas station attendant. The concept of using witchcraft instead of richcraft appealed to them, and they signed on with Screen Gems.
In November 1963, the pilot episode of Bewitched was filmed shortly after Liz found out she was pregnant. The Bewitched crew worked around her and had to hide her pregnancy since she was just getting married in the first episode of the show. On July 24, 1964, the Ashers welcomed a 7 lb. 6oz. boy, whom they named William Allen Asher, Jr.
The Ashers on the Set of Bewitched
Three weeks after Billy's birth, Liz returned to work against doctor's orders. The schedule was behind and Liz had to go in to get the episodes completed before air date. Everyone working on the Bewitched project during this time had high praise for Liz's ability to juggle motherhood while carrying a weekly show. It was obvious to all that Liz was in her glory. She had never looked better and her performances were consistently brilliant.
Liz As Samantha on Bewitched
On October 5, 1965, Liz gave birth to her second child, a 7lb. 2oz. boy named Robert Deverell Asher, which translated onscreen to the birth of Tabatha (later spelled Tabitha). During the 5th season of Bewitched, Liz became pregnant again. On June 17, 1969, Liz gave birth to her youngest child, a beautiful 7lb. 13oz. girl, whom they named Rebecca Elizabeth Asher. Rebecca's birth coincided with the birth of Adam on the show.
Liz in Rare Publicity Shots with Her Young Sons
Billy and Rebecca Asher As Seen on the A&E Biography Featuring Their Mother
Liz became quite the force in the entertainment industry headlining such an immediately successful prime time show. At one point early in her career, she had considered changing her name to avoid people assuming that she was riding on her father's coattails. With Bewitched, she proved she had the talent to carry a weekly comedy series as few other have done. She even, through the magic of television and the assistance of stand-in Melody McCord, played the role of two popular characters on the show. Despite the fact that she had three children in real life, two children on the show, the infamous Darrin swap, and her husband telling her what to do at work, she juggled all of her roles seamlessly. By the start of the eighth season, the Ashers had formed a production company named Ashmont and had creative control over the series. Unlike many actors of that time, Liz's contract ensured her continuing royalty checks when Bewitched went into syndication. Perhaps Liz was a shrewd businesswoman, or surrounded herself with the right people, as her success at Screen Gems is paramount.
Liz and Harry Ackerman Celebrating Bewitched's Success
By 1971, the Ashers felt Bewitched had exhausted its run and decided to end the show after the 8th season. The final show aired on March 25, 1972. As the show came to an end, so did the Asher's marriage. In July 1973, they divorced amicably and Liz was awarded full custody of the children.
Shortly after her divorce, Liz made a film called Mrs. Sundance. On the set of this TV movie, she met the handsome actor Robert Foxworth. Foxworth was also divorced and awarded full custody of his two children, Krystin and Bo. In 1974, Foxworth and his children moved in with Liz and her three children. Weary of a fourth failed marriage, the couple were companions for many years.
Liz continued working on dramatic TV movies such as A Case of Rape, The Legend of Lizzie Borden, and Belle Starr until 1985, when she decided to semi-retire to be with Foxworth on the set of his weekly series Falcon Crest. After Foxworth left Falcon Crest, Liz decided to go back to work. She and Foxworth made the movie Face to Face together in East Africa. She really enjoyed the time spent on safari and came back to the States spreading the word about the poaching problems and the horrific political climate in that country. Like the human rights initiatives Samantha undertook on Bewitched, Liz stood up for these convictions in her personal life as well. She was not one to sit back and let an injustice go unnoticed.
Liz and Bob on the Set of Face to Face in East Africa
While Liz balked at doing a Bewitched TV show reunion special, she gave another example of her human rights initiatives by reuniting Darrin and Samantha one last time in 1992. When Dick Sargent was asked to grand marshal a gay pride parade in Los Angeles, he called Liz and asked for her help. She proudly rode with him in the parade and publicly supported him throughout his own trials with the press and grave illness.
In that same year, she starred with Foxworth again in With Murder in Mind (aka With Savage Intent). On the press circuit for this TV movie, it was clearly evident that Liz and Foxworth were still smitten with each other after nearly 20 years. On January 28, 1993, the couple married in a private ceremony that many never knew about until after her death.
Liz said in a 1992 interview on The Dennis Miller Show that Bewitched was a great way to make a living and that she enjoyed working on it for the entire eight year run. However, she also admitted in another interview that comedy was much more demanding as one never really knew how others would take a joke, whereas dramatic scenes were much easier to predict the audience's reaction. She went back to her beginnings by seeking dramatic roles after Bewitched and never seriously entertained reprising her role of America's favorite witch. Even when prompted in interviews, she fondly recalled Samantha, but never gave her audience another twitch.
In addition to acting in TV movies, Liz also lent her distinctive voice to many projects, most notably The Panama Deception in which she narrated the Academy Award winning movie. She was also the voice of the barmaid in Batman: The Animated Series (this was actually her second animated role as she played Samantha in The Flintstones Meet Samantha in the 1960s), and she recited the erotic Sleeping Beauty books on tape as written by Anne Rice under the pen name of A. N. Roquelaure.
Liz in the 1990s
In 1995, during the filming of her final film Deadline For Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan, Liz became ill. She thought it was a case of the flu and her heavy workload, and so she carried on filming. In April 1995, after she had completed filming, Foxworth insisted that she get medical attention. She was diagnosed colorectal cancer. On May 18, 1995, she passed on peacefully at home (by her request) surrounded by those she loved.
Throughout Liz's career, she was nominated for nine Emmys. The Academy of Television Arts and Science nominated her five times for Bewitched, once for The Untouchables: The Rusty Heller Story (which features David "Larry Tate" White as one of Liz's love interests), and for three other TV movies (i.e., A Case of Rape, The Legend of Lizzie Borden, and The Awakening Land). She had good humor about losing the coveted award so many times. In The Bewitched Book Liz said, "I think it's funny, I mean if Susan Lucci, who I think is wonderful, has never won, then I'd say I'm in pretty good company. Maybe the two of us should work together, do something really brilliant, and then both lose. That would be hysterical."
On June 19, 2003, the Walk of Fame committee announced that Elizabeth would be receiving a star posthumously for her many contributions to the entertainment industry. This great honor was the direct result of her most ardent fans and her family pulling resources to make a spectacular presentation on her behalf. On January 4, 2008 the star was unveiled in a ceremony at 6533 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA where Elizabeth's children Bill and Rebecca accepted the award on her behalf. Fellow actors, husband Robert Foxworth (Six Feet Under, Falcon Crest) and friend Liz Sheridan (Seinfeld), spoke about her both personally and professionally. Her family, friends, and fans from around the world gathered to watch the event.
See photos and video from
Elizabeth's Walk of Fame Ceremony
Likewise, fans of Bewitched have launched several campaigns to ensure that Bewitched remains on the air for future generations to appreciate the supernatural situation comedy and that special witch with the twitch.
Favorite Elizabeth Montgomery quote about Bewitched as stated in The Saturday Evening Post from March 13, 1965:
"Like most people, I secretly hope that it's true that there are witches like Samantha, and that families like hers really do exist."
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Herbie J Pilato The Bewitched Book: The Cosmic Companion to TV's Most Magical Supernatural Situation Comedy. Dell Publishing, 1992.
Rogers, Kasey and Mark Wood. The Bewitched Cookbook: Magic in the Kitchen. Kensington Publishing Corp. 1996.