Submitted by CosmosCotillion


Screen Stars
August 1965


 Liz Montgomery Confesses:
Those TV Ratings Give Me The Willies
     (yes, even when I'm on top of them...)

   By Earle Hesse


"Sure, those darn ratings scare heck out of me, and I don't care who knows it!"

This is Elizabeth Montgomery talking---Liz, star of ABC-TV's sensationally-successful Bewitched, who, one would think, would be the last person to worry these high-flying days about ratings or anything else under the sun.

Bewitched has fluctuated interestingly between the number one and two spots on the polls for months, and to date, doesn't seem to be in for any major dips worth mentioning.

But this doesn't seem to really reassure Liz. "They say," she laughs, "that those authors on the best-seller lists get upset whenever their number changes. A guy can go from six to eight to nine, and that nine hits him as though his book weren't selling at all! Everything is relative, as the philosopher says."

"You mean," a reporter asked her, "that if you go from one to two, it bothers you that much? How could it? So many factors are involved."

"Yes, it gives me the willies," Liz confessed. "But don't get me wrong, now! I'm a happy wife and mother (hubby is producer Bill Asher) and my home life is very important to me, too. Some people say ratings don't give the whole story, anyway. Of course I know people can't stay up there forever; no one does. So nowadays I practice a kind of mental therapy: I just don't look at those ratings, and I don't ask about 'em. That way, everything comes out nice and serene---especially on the home front."

Friends say that Liz and Bill Asher are Hollywood's happiest couple. "They had both been hit hard by life, they were relatively mature when they married, and they came into it with realistic expectations," says one.

And from another. "The nice thing about it is that they are in roughly the same line of work, but in complementing, not competing roles. Liz the Actress and Bill the Producer find they help each other, and there is always plenty to talk about at home."

Agnes Moorehead, who probably knows the witchy, twitchy Liz as well as any co-worker, has paid tribute to her dedication and concentration. "She keeps us all on our toes," Miss Moorehead says. "I play a witch, also, on that show, and it takes some doing to out-witch and out-charm her. She's a born scene-stealer."

How does husband Bill feel about his wife's fantastic success? He reportedly told close pals, "If ever a girl deserved it, Liz did. She's a thorough professional, is always on time, knows her lines, has the imagination and enterprise to give just a little more than the director demands, and she gets on beautifully with her fellow-workers."

No complaints? No black marks? None at all? "Well, she is perhaps a little overly-conscientious---in short, a worrier," says Bill. "But that's a good way to be in a demanding profession like this, if, of course, you don't overdo it! I think she gets her professional attitudes, her capacity for taking infinite pains, from her father."

Liz's father, as everyone knows, is fabulous Robert Montgomery, who was one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's biggest stars back in the thirties. Later he became a TV producer, and one of former President Eisenhower's TV mentors. Liz resembles her father somewhat, but the planes of her face, and her expressions, and voice, have an individuality of their own.

"Fame came late for Elizabeth," says an old friend. "For years she lived in her father's shadow. People said, 'Oh yes, of course---the daughter of Robert Montgomery. She acts, too, doesn't she?'"

The friend adds: "Not that this really griped her. Liz' metabolism has always lent itself to serene acceptance of other people's success, even people in her own family. She was always proud to be her father's daughter, and I doubt if she went through the growing pains that afflict so many of the children of the famous---and if she did, she does no self-pitying griping about it."

There are several schools of thought, though, on Elizabeth Montgomery in relation to her dad's fame. One camp has it that she determined to over-take him; another insists that she merely wanted to make him proud; still another coterie is determined that Individuality and Independence were always her keynotes. So take your pick.

Would she want her own children to follow showbusiness careers?

Reportedly she told her friends, "If they had the talent for it, and the will, and the stamina to resist disappointment and frustration. And there is plenty of that, even if one has a foot in the door via a relative already in the game. It's one thing to get in; another to stay in."

Fans, friends, associates all agree that Liz Montgomery can "stay in" as long as she wishes to.

Here is some of her thinking on various matters:

Wifehood and Motherhood versus Career: "If one is intelligent and sensible and has a sense of proportion, the two can be blended very nicely. It is important to take an objective view. Of course every case is unique; Bill and I are lucky in that we mesh our ambitions and life-purposes surprisingly well."

Fans: "They have given me what I have, and I'm grateful. I like a normal amount of privacy, but I'm not the dark-glasses type who scurries behind hedges or ducks out back doors every time I see a youngster advancing with autograph book in hand. If they are reasonably courteous, I feel I should be also."

Stage Versus Movies Versus TV: "All mediums present their own unique problems for a performer; I have worked in all three, and I enjoy the shifting of gears from one to another, the fresh tactics one must adopt; it is stimulating, it makes for variety. Of course, TV has given me my greatest success, to date, but I don't intend to confine myself to it."

Divorce: "No comment." (Liz was once married to actor Gig Young.)

Children: "They need love, attention, above all a feeling that they are wanted, and needed, and indispensable to their parents' happiness."

Marriage: "I don't believe in talking about mine and Bill's personal affairs. You give out quotes, and often they are distorted out of all proportion. But in general, I am willing to say that to be happy with someone else, you have to give a little, take a little (cliche though that may be); you have to be tolerant and relaxed, and not take things personally. You have to give the other person 'room to breathe', so to speak, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Bill and I are together as much as we wish to be; we can always get off alone somewhere when we want to, and because, as I say, we're an unusually lucky couple, we enjoy each other's company, and that getting-away-from-each-other problem doesn't really figure importantly."

Fellow Actors: "The respect and esteem of one's co-workers is something that every true professional prizes above all else. If the people who work with you don't like you, then that is really cause for self-searching. I told myself at the very start of my career that I wouldn't be a prima-donna, ever; that I would be on time for scenes, be grateful for advice and acting tips instead of being egotistically insulted by them, as so many people are; keep a smile on my face and an atmosphere of serene professionalism and honest teamwork. I may not have lived up to these ideals one hundred percent, but I've tried!"

Housework: "I'm neat, I think, but I can take housework or leave it. Mostly leave it. When you work hard all day under the lights in a busy studio, it's nice to have these things done for you. I plead honestly lazy in this department."

Witches: "I've run out of things to say about them. So don't ask me!"

Her Father: "He's darned proud of me, and I'm darned proud of him."

Hollywood Versus New York as a place to live: "Both places have their good and bad points. I like the climate in California, the friendly, relaxed atmosphere. I like the stimulation and vitality and variety of things to do in New York. It comes out pretty even, I guess."

Reading: "I don't get enough of it, and I love it."

Some gal, this Liz Montgomery. She may worry about ratings, but of one thing she can be assured: those whose love, friendship and respect she truly values will always be in her corner. This is the mark of a thoroughbred.